|Rutgers kicks off post Ray Rice era vs Fresno St|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 31 August 2008 09:08|
The Scarlet Knights, coming off an 8-5 campaign capped by an International Bowl win, kick off the season Monday against Fresno State at Rutgers Stadium in what could be a game where the scoreboard turns numbers like a slot machine.
The Bulldogs were 9-4 last season, including an impressive win over Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl. Quarterback Tom Brandstater returns to lead an offense that gained 571 yards in the that game against one of the nation's top defenses.
up is certainly potent.''
Fresno State, one of the favorites to win the Western Athletic Conference, is going to face a tough task on defense.
Rutgers lost Rice, its all-time leading rusher, to the NFL, but returns record-setting quarterback Mike Teel (20 touchdowns) and 1,000-yard receivers in Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood.
The job of replacing Rice falls to Kordell Young, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, and Mason Robinson.
``I don't think they're going to give up on the run game,'' Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. ``That's part of their personality. They are a physical downhill running football team. We're gonna be prepared for both run and pass. The QB and receivers are a talented group and they'll add a whole new dimension to their game that will be improved from last year.''
The one area that will be a question mark for Rutgers is the offensive line, which gave up 18 sacks last season. Tackles Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah graduated and the line will have three new starters. Only center Ryan Blaszczyk is playing at the same position as a year ago.
Sophomore Anthony Davis moved from guard to left tackle.
``In college football, you don't have preseason games, so everything is right off the bat,'' Schiano said. ``We have a lot of situations where we have to face some of the best right off the bat, so we better be ready. I don't know if our best is good enough, but anything less we're not going to have a chance.''
There is also going to be pressure on Fresno State, which has long lived by the motto, ``Anybody, anytime, anywhere.''
Many experts think the Bulldogs have the talent to become the next Hawaii or Boise State and earn a BCS bowl berth.
However, that also means not losing.
``We've had a couple runs but we've never finished it from start to finish, undefeated,'' Hill said. ``We really can't talk about being undefeated now. We have to talk about being 1-0 after the first. One year we got as high as eighth in the nation but lost a game and that was it.''
That was 2001, and Fresno State lost two games late in an 11-2 season.
Hill believes it is too early to say whether this might be his best team.
``I think it's got a chance to be a very good football team but they've got a lot to prove early in the season and they'll have a chance to show what they're like against some very good football teams on the road,'' he said. ``We're on the road seven times this year and we travel three time zones three times in the first seven weeks. We have a lot different tests than most people have.''