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There were so many good things going for the Rutgers football team’s defense early on in the season, and all of it surrounded the standout play of its defensive line. The Scarlet Knights’ front four players were so successful that in order to motivate each other, they would compete amongst themselves for who would have more tackle, sacks and tackles for loss.
Senior left guard Kaleb Johnson (center) insists the Knights need to focus more on the details of run blocking and pass protection in order for Rutgers to compete on a higher level with Big Ten opponents. The Knights allowed six total sacks the last two weeks against Ohio State and Nebraska.
Sophomore right guard Chris Muller (right) and Rutgers’ offensive linemen are looking to combat Wisconsin’s 3-4 front seven with swift communication up front.
Kyle Flood likes to keep it simple when evaluating what makes Wisconsin’s defense so efficient, even without dazzling individual talents.“They play tremendous 11-man defense,” Rutgers’ head football coach said. “If you look at them statistically ... their leading tacklers are in the middle with their two middle linebackers and their safety, but the leading TFL guys on their defense are on the outside, so they’re getting production in a lot of different areas. And I think that speaks to me that they play team defense.”
Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood praised the Badgers’ top-ranked conference defense during Tuesday’s weekly Big Ten Teleconference, calling it a great 11-man unit.
At the beginning of October, head coach Gary Andersen and the Wisconsin football team seemed to be on track for a rough year.The Badgers had dropped their Big Ten opener at Northwestern, 20-14, their second loss of the season, and appeared to have serious issues at quarterback, with then-starter Tanner McEvoy being pulled after just four drives against the Wildcats.
Rutgers hosts the Big Ten’s top rushing offense Saturday on Homecoming. Wisconsin is averaging 338.4 yards per game on the ground through seven games this season.
Going to “The Horseshoe” in Columbus in front of a sold-out Ohio State crowd that featured 106,795 Buckeye fans was difficult. Following that up with yet another sold-out stadium when it traveled to Nebraska to play in front of the 338th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium was also challenging. But the Rutgers football team finally comes home — and it couldn’t have come any sooner.
The Rutgers football team’s defense might be reluctant to admit it, but this week likely serves as somewhat a breath of fresh air for the Scarlet Knights.
Senior strong safety Lorenzo Waters and the Knights are looking to fix issues in communication and fill the right gaps to stop the run Saturday against Wisconsin.
Sophomore Janarion Grant has dealt with adversity during the past two weeks with a fumble at OSU and suspension from the first half Saturday at Nebraska.
An often unsung but integral component of the Rutgers football team, Janarion Grant has had a tough going the past two weeks.
The only occasions that redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Laviano played early this season were spot fill-in roles when the Rutgers football team was either winning by several points, like against Howard, or when it was trailing by a significant amount, like against Ohio State.
Three months ago, Robert Martin faced a predicament.
True freshman running back Robert Martin rushed for 32 yards on six carries against Nebraska. He is in line for more work this week as a newly annointed co-starter.
Quarterback Gary Nova left Saturday’s game with a lower body injury. He is listed questionable this week on RU’s injury report.
Junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo said he is not surprised by Laviano’s speed. Carroo knew Laviano was athletic from when the pair played basketball in the offseason.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Laviano earned his most significant amount of playing time in the loss to Nebraska. Laviano will likely make his first career start against Wisconsin if Gary Nova is not healthy enough to play.
Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah returns a kickoff and rushes ahead of a swarm of Rutgers defenders. Abdullah collected 341 all-purpose yards, including 225 rushing yards. Abdullah scored three touchdowns on 19 carries and broke free for a pair of runs exceeding 48 yards in the second quarter.
Two members of Rutgers' training staff help senior quarterback Gary Nova off the field. Nova suffered an apparent right knee injury falling to the turf late in the second quarter Saturday and did not return to the game. Head coach Kyle Flood said Nova's status is unknown for possibly a couple days.