Rutgers' ground game needs heavy workload vs. Army
Who: Rutgers vs. Army
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Michie Stadium, West Point (NY)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Rutgers -5
Matchup to watch: Kemoko Turay vs. Ahmad Bradshaw
The Rutgers pass rusher hasn’t had the season many thought he would. Turay hasn’t racked up the sacks without Darius Hamilton to take away double teams, but he still has shown an ability to get to the quarterback. He’ll have one of the more mobile quarterbacks to deal with. The Black Knights’ signal-caller is also the team’s leading rusher. Bradshaw is certainly a run-first guy that will keep the ball plenty running the option. Turay’s patience will be needed against Army’s ground attack. If he can get in the backfield early and force a fumble or rack up a big tackle for loss, it could change Bradshaw’s decision-making.
Thing I’m excited to see: Janarion Grant in special teams
There hasn’t been a ton for Rutgers fans to get excited about this year, but Grant is certainly one of them. The junior leads the country with four touchdown returns, three of which came on kickoffs. The playmakers on this team are lacking on offense, which means there’s an extra emphasis on Grant to hit a home run in the return game. Army is actually one of the better teams defending returns in the country. It’ll take a disciplined effort to slow down a speedster like Grant in the open field.
Number to remember: 5.45
That’s the amount of yards per carry the Scarlet Knights tailbacks averaged this year. Not bad, right? Josh Hicks, Robert Martin and Paul James have been a formidable trio. James should see a more significant role after being banged up the last two weeks. They should all see a more significant workload. Why? Because maybe for the first time since the Kansas game, Rutgers won’t dig itself an early hole. Game flow has prevented Rutgers from establishing much of a ground attack. Especially with Leonte Carroo likely still not at 100 percent, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kyle Flood run it early and often.
Prediction: Rutgers 34, Army 31
I actually think a run-first offense is actually what Rutgers needs to see. Steve Longa might rack up 20 tackles the way Army pounds the rock. Rutgers hasn’t been particularly stout against anything, but I like its chances a lot better against a one-dimensional offense than the balanced attacks its faced in B1G play. I don’t think this is a game in which either quarterback looks particularly polished, but I do see the Laviano-Carroo connection playing much better than it did last week. The Scarlet Knights stop the bleeding in New York.