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Lost in the murky waters of its worst season in five years, few could fathom the Rutgers football team having one of the nation's best linebackers on its roster. But the Scarlet Knights do possess one who is currently in the midst of staging the finest performance at the position in the last 25 years of the program.Steve Longa is a tackling machine, sweeping sideline-to-sideline to bring down any ball carriers on his radar.
As his teammates slugged their way through the Rutgers football team’s third blowout loss in three weeks, Paul James was helpless as he watched it all unfold from the sidelines.The senior running back dressed for last Saturday’s game at then-No. 16 Michigan, but didn’t see the field as the Scarlet Knights eventually went on to drop the Big Ten road contest, 49-16, to the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium.Head coach Kyle Flood said after the game that James, who was listed as questionable in the most recent injury report leading up to the game last Friday with a lower body injury, would have only entered the game on offense in an emergency situation.But as the battle spiraled out of control, James remained a spectator.“It hurts a lot.
Junior wide receiver/returner Janarion Grant ran a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown in the 49-16 loss at Michigan Nov. 7. Grant also returned a punt 67 yards en route to posting 263 all-purpose yards in the loss.
Janarion Grant is back.And he chose the biggest of stages to prove it, showcasing his returning talents in front of 109,789 fans clad mostly in Michigan's trademark maize and blue. One week after setting the school record for kick return yards (now 2,235 yards) —just eight games into his junior season — Grant returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and set up a field goal with a 67-yard punt return on his way to 263 all-purpose yards on the afternoon."It feels great,” Grant said two days after setting the record.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On the first play from scrimmage, the Rutgers football team was pretty much destined to not have luck in its favor.With a crowd of 109,789 — the largest Rutgers has ever played in front of — dominated by maize and blue settled in at “The Big House,” No. 16 Michigan looked like it had just handed the Scarlet Knights a welcoming gift to Ann Arbor.Out of the shotgun, Jake Rudock’s toss to Drake Johnson fell to the ground before Rutgers came up with it.
It’s been a little more than a year since the a Blackout crowd at High Point Solutions Stadium poured out of benches and onto the field after the Rutgers football team’s historic 26-24 triumph past Michigan.The first Big Ten win in the Scarlet Knights’ inaugural season came against a reeling Wolverines team that spiraled out of control and fired former head coach Brady Hoke after a 5-7 year in Ann Arbor. But that didn’t change the magnitude of the victory in Piscataway.As the party began on the Banks, it eventually paved the way for an 8-5 finish where the Knights claimed the sixth bowl championship in program history with a dominant 40-21 win over North Carolina at the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.But one year later, a complete 180-degree turn ensued for both teams.When Rutgers (3-5, 1-4) heads out to the Great Lakes State this time, similar bowl implications are on the table in its rematch with Michigan.But the No. 16 Wolverines (6-2, 3-1) present a far greater challenge than the shadow of a team that limped into Piscataway last October.
The image is forever ingrained in the minds of those who witnessed it. Through a sea of outstretched arms and black jerseys with pink accessories last October, No. 58 for the Rutgers football team almost jumps out of the photo itself. He is the most prominent figure in this iconic image — body fully extended, triceps bulging, along with seemingly every other muscle in his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame — focused on getting his fingertips to the football.
Sophomore defensive end broke out in last year's 26-24 win over Michigan, securing Rutgers first ever Big Ten victory with a blocked field goal. In the second ever meeting between the two schools, Turay is eager to equal his impact.
Head coach Kyle Flood said the biggest threat from Jabrill Peppers in the Wildcat is not the pass, but the two-back run out of a one-back set. The Knights will face their second straight two-way player at Michigan on Saturday, after Wisconsin's Tanner McEvoy had a career game in the 48-10 over Rutgers last week in Madison.
With 52 points surrendered at Indiana, 49 yielded against No. 1 Ohio State and 48 relinquished at Wisconsin, the Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) have given up at least 45 points or more in three consecutive contests for the first time in the program’s 146-year history.To one of the newest members of the units young secondary group, that nugget is enough to drive the defense insane.“It just messes with the head because you feel like you’re around the ball, and then you seek out and then you just look up and it’s just 40, 50 yards down the field,” said redshirt freshman Kiy Hester.
Junior free safety Anthony Cioffi said he will embrace the opportunity to take the field at Michigan Stadium, treating the Big House as his own.
Junior right guard Chris Muller was recruited by Michigan out of high school. The 6-foot-6. 310-pounder insists he is happy he chose to attend Rutgers.
Junior wide receiver and return man Janarion Grant has been quieted for Rutgers in recent games. Opponents have refrained from kicking to him.
Tallying just 68 yards on 22 carries in the next three games after his 21 touches for 113 yards against Kansas on Sept. 26, sophomore running back Josh Hicks stalled out for Rutgers on offense. But Hicks showed signs of life at Wisconsin with 72 yards on 15 attempts.
Janarion Grant isn’t used to this.After taking the attention of the college football world by storm with his three electrifying touchdown returns in the first two games of the season, the dynamic junior wide receiver and kick returner has largely gone missing in the Rutgers football team’s last six contests.Despite his 42-yard kick return last Saturday in the Scarlet Knights’ 48-10 loss at Wisconsin, sending him atop the program’s record books with 2,065 kick return yards and a 24.9 average per return, Grant knows he’s been bottled up now for some time.“They’ve been keeping (kicks) away from me,” he said.
Nearly 13 months after its first conference game against Penn State last October at High Point Solutions Stadium, the Rutgers football team will truly find out what it means to be a member of the Big Ten Conference on Saturday when the Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) travel to Michigan Stadium to take on Michigan in Ann Arbor.Both the Wolverines (6-2, 3-1) and their stadium represent the goal Rutgers is striving for as a program. Michigan serves as a model institution for the State University of New Jersey to emulate, not only in terms of athletics, but academics as well."I've been thinking about that all (Sunday) and (Monday)," said junior tight end Nick Arcidiacono.
Through the first six games of the season for the Rutgers Football team, stories of success were in abundance up and down the roster.From the impressive play of the starting quarterback and top wide receiver to the performance at the tight end position and on special teams, there was a lot for fans of the Scarlet Knights to be excited about. But during a losing skid that includes back-to-back lopsided losses and three defeats in four games, Rutgers has regressed in areas that were seen as a strength a mere three weeks ago.After returning from an indefinite suspension as a result of a domestic assault charge being dismissed, senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo lit the college football world on fire. Carroo, an offensive captain for the Knights, posted consecutive games with three touchdowns--first against then-No.4 Michigan State and then through three quarters in the historic comeback at Indiana. But since landing awkwardly on his third touchdown catch versus the Hoosiers, Rutgers all-time leader in receiving touchdowns has been relegated to splitting time while he nurses a lower body injury that limited him in the 49-7 rout by No. 1 Ohio State and kept him out of the 48-10 whitewash by Wisconsin last Saturday.“It was pretty hard,” the senior wideout said of having to watch the blowout by the Badgers in street clothes.
Senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo caught nine touchdown passes in the Knights first six games of the season, but after a lower body injury in the third quarter against Indiana Oct. 17, the senior captain has been slowed on the field. Carroo sat out for the 48-10 loss at Wisconsin Oct.31.
As the Rutgers football team slugged through another blowout for the second consecutive weekend, all Hayden Rettig could do was watch.Restricted to the sideline as he has been for much of his first year of eligibility after transferring from LSU, the sophomore quarterback stood around with his teammates in the cold rain as Wisconsin buried the Scarlet Knights, 48-10, last Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.From the jump, it hasn’t been the ideal season for Rutgers (3-5, 1-4). “It’s tough for everybody, I guess,” Rettig said on Saturday.
Entering the matchup against Wisconsin, the Rutgers football team had several question marks to address, beginning with the status of each team's best player.