The O-line has responded by providing Nova with significant time in the pocket to make his reads and progressions, and has made good use of the Knights’ blocking schemes, sparking Jamison and Huggins for some of their biggest offensive plays of the first two games.
But Rutgers’ 26-0 victory over the Howard Bison came at a cost, as right guard Andre Civil suffered a lower-body injury and will be out for this evening’s clash with South Florida. Scarlet Knights’ center Betim Bujari is expected to play against the Bulls, but he also suffered a lower-body injury in the victory over their FCS opponent.
Rutgers’ O-line’s health joins the list of concerns before their first Big East conference game. Will they be able to cut down dramatically on unforced penalties? And will they be able to consistently move the ball if USF commits to stopping the run and forces Nova to beat them? Aside from Brandon Coleman, which Knights’ receivers will step up and make big plays against a defense that continually struggles to get off the field?
In order to counter Rutgers’ bellicose front seven, South Florida head coach Skip Holtz will try to run screen passes and draws using his running backs, Demetris Murray and Lindsey Lamar. Both tailbacks are swift-footed and slippery to wrap up, and Holtz may combat the point of attack by Rutgers’ defense if his team can create space for these ball carriers.
Historically, the gunslinger Daniels has never had great success against Rutgers, with a combined 31-68 passing and three touchdowns to four interceptions (over three games he is 1-2). If USF can sustain drives instead of trying to go over the top for stretch passes, then maybe they will be able to generate some points against a Knights’ secondary that has clamped down on offenses to suffocating degrees in their first two games.
At some point this season, Nova will be forced to win the game for Rutgers by leading them to victory. The sophomore quarterback has been good enough in the early going, but against the best teams Rutgers will face, he will have to be able to consistently spread the ball around and let his playmakers make plays. What better time to start then in front of a national audience on the Worldwide Leader in Sports?