Nitro offense poses threat to Rutgers

<p>Junior weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene compiled a career-high
11 tackles in the Scarlet Knights’ Week 2 loss to North?Carolina.
Greene and the Rutgers defense face a three-headed Ohio
backfield.</p>

Junior weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene compiled a career-high 11 tackles in the Scarlet Knights’ Week 2 loss to North?Carolina. Greene and the Rutgers defense face a three-headed Ohio backfield.


Junior weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene had a difficult time finding a way to describe Ohio’s no-huddle offense once he saw it on film.

When the Rutgers football team’s defense takes the field against the Bobcats, it probably will not be able to depict the up-tempo attack, either.

“The tempo of their game — I have to find another word to call it,” Greene said. “It’s not up-tempo or high-octane. It’s nitro, or something like that.”

But the Scarlet Knights (1-1) face a more dynamic challenge than simply keeping pace with the play clock, said head coach Greg Schiano.

“It’s not just the up-tempo. If it were just the up-tempo, I’d feel better,” Schiano said. “It’s the multiplicity of their scheme. That, on top of the tempo, is what we have to prepare for.”

Ohio head coach Frank Solich’s offense sports a variety of looks, including runs from the shotgun and pistol formations, as well as the old-fashioned option.

While the Knights have experience against Army and Navy’s triple-option-oriented offenses, Ohio’s backfield depth provides a new wrinkle.

Three Bobcats running backs carried the ball at least 24 times through three games, and sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton rushes for 32.3 yards per game.

But Solich faces a similar dilemma on the other side of the ball, where he must prepare for Knights freshman Savon Huggins despite a lack of film.

“There is not a lot of tape on him, but you look at their style of offense and that’s what you try to prepare for,” Solich said. “Obviously, Savon’s a great young running back and will have a great career there.”

Huggins figures to warrant more reps in the Rutgers backfield after junior De’Antwan Williams left the program during the Knights’ bye week.

Along with Huggins, redshirt freshman Jawan Jamison will likely earn more carries despite not playing in Week 2 against North Carolina.

Solich has the Bobcats off to the program’s best start in 35 years, and Ohio reached a bowl game three times in six years under his guidance.

Now, Ohio is arguably the best team in a Mid-American Conference that shrank the margin between itself and the nation’s six power conferences, Schiano said.

“The MAC Conference has caught up,” he said. “The gap has closed. You just look. Last week Temple almost upset Penn State. You look at what’s going on. There’s not a big separation anymore. There used to be. There isn’t anymore.”

With Ohio State struggling under new leadership in Columbus, the Bobcats are arguably the most stable program in the Buckeye State.

They picked apart Marshall, 44-7, in their last outing and rank second nationally with nine interceptions.

Knights junior safety Duron Harmon counters with three picks to his name, and Rutgers created five takeaways of its own against North Carolina.

“[Rutgers has] a good combination of things and we’re going to have to play exceptionally well to make this thing work,” Solich said.

Judging by Ohio’s recent revelation, that is a distinct possibility.


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