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Rutgers at Tulane season opener: What we learned

rutgersR092411_optBY SAM HITCHCOCK
NEWJERESYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

Rutgers’ offense is not high-octane, but it can be explosive. Rutgers’ defense is not run by former Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson (Johnson was renown for being ultra-aggressive with blitzing), but it can be explosive as well.

In many ways, this description also fit the reigning 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giants last year, and while the Scarlet Knights’ 2012-13 squad may not ascend to the same kind of success as Big Blue did a year ago, they certainly have a few gifted players who may reach the NFL.

Kyle Flood is taking over the wheel for current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. The hope by all invested in the Scarlet Knights is that he will continue to maintain the success that Schiano accrued with New Jersey’s biggest collegiate football power, and that Rutgers will continue to see its best players earning big paychecks professionally.

Schiano is in the NFL, Mohamed Sanu, the very physical Scarlet Knights receiver who in 2011-12 had 115 receptions (a Big East single-season record), got drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. And the best running back in the NFL, Ray Rice, was once bursting through holes in front of the Piscataway faithful.

This past Saturday night, in front of over 26,000 fans at the Superdome, reigning Big East defensive player of the year, linebacker Khaseem Greene, and mammoth receiver Brandon Coleman, continued to show the high-talent ceilings both have as they aspire to become NFL players.

Greene was an itinerant Saturday, using his instinctive football IQ and speed to cover the length of the field and record a game-high 11.5 tackles. He was also one of the biggest reasons Tulane was unable to break any big plays on the ground; his rush defense skills were proficient and Tulane only mustered eight yards total rushing. With the Green Wave finding success on intermediate passes, Greene (along with the secondary) was able to position himself for tackles and prevent Tulane from gaining long pass plays.

The longest play for Tulane came on a 32-yard reception by Ryan Grant, as the Scarlet Knights exhibited defensive fortitude by bending (they allowed a 50 percent conversion rate of 8-16 on 3rd downs), but not breaking (Tulane’s lone touchdown came with five minutes and several seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and cornerback Brandon Jones had a pick-six).

Coleman, the massive 6-6, 220-pound physical specimen, showed his well-documented big-play ability (he averaged 32.5 yards a catch as a freshman), as he beat his man on a slant and never broke stride for a 43-yard touchdown strike. With the well-documented success of gigantic NFL targets like Calvin Johnson (6-5, 236) and Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230), a large frame can dominate inside the numbers and extend the secondary for a stretch pass along the edges is crucial in the increasingly pass-friendly NFL. Coleman got off to a great start in the opener, and his size and yards after catch will get a lot of attention from NFL scouts in the future.



 

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