The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are aiming for their first 4-0 start in six years as they prep to up against Arkansas on Saturday night.
After scoring 10 points in the final three minutes of last Thursday’s game against Big East opponent USF, the Scarlet Knights cruised to a 23-13 victory and their first league win of the 2012 season.
The Rutgers rushing game continues to lead the squad’s offense, paced by sophomore Jawan Jamison, who set a school record with 41 rushing attempts for 151 yards. It was his third straight 100-yard game of the season, and his fourth straight since 2001, making him the first Rutgers running back to recorded the stat since Ray Rice in 2007.
It was quarterback Gary Nova, though, who had the breakout game, completing a season-high 23-of-42 passes, racking up 277 yards in a turnover-free performance.
"I think it's experience in the system and you can only get experience by playing," Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said of Nova in Monday morning's press conference. "So hopefully every week Gary will continue to get a little bit better as he gains more experience."
Thanks to extra practices following last week’s Thursday night game, the Scarlet Knights have a slim time advantage going into Saturday's first-ever meeting with the Razorbacks.
"Extra preparation is always a positive," Flood said. "I think preparation is an advantage regardless of who your opponent is, and you'd better approach every football game with a very healthy respect for whoever your opponent is."
Following Arkansas’ 52-0 loss to Alabama and subsequent (1-2, 0-1) drop from the national polls, this week's matchup with the Scarlet Knights offers Rutgers the chance to officially break into the national scene.
Even with the possibility for nationwide success, the Scarlet Knights are approaching Saturday night's game with the intent of a well-rounded performance, a characteristic that has been dominant in their first three games of the season.
In addition to crucial performances by Nova and Jamison this weekend, the Scarlet Knights will need continued success of the defensive side of the ball; something that has yet to be an issue any time they step onto the field.
Led by Khaseem Greene, who recorded his fifth consecutive 10-plus tackle game in last week’s victory over USF, the Rutgers defense has been a gritty, force to be reckoned with in 2012 and they’ll have to stay that way against this week’s SEC opponent.
"He's been every bit the playmaker that we need him to be in our defense," Flood said of Greene. "He is the difference-maker for us."
With almost a week of practices still in front of them, the Scarlet Knights are depending on those extra days to allow them to fine tune their game plan and understand their opponent almost perfectly.
"They are as physically talented a group as any group we'll play all year," said Flood. "Right now, our focus is on just being 1-0 this week."