With a packed recruiting lounge and Bowl implications on the line, head coach Greg Schiano leads the Scarlet Knights on Senior Day against a West Virginia team that he has never beaten and Rutgers has not defeated since 1994. Photo courtesy of The Daily Athenaeum
GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION BY MATTHEW STEELE
G A M E DAY
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
DECEMBER 4, 2009
KnightsGameday RUTGERS VS WEST VIRGINIA
GAME 11: Rutgers Stadium, Noon TV: ESPN RADIO: 1450 AM FAVORITE: Rutgers by 1.5
RU aims to break 14-game skid
INSIDE the NUMBERS
SCARLET KNIGHTS (8-3)
WEST VIRGINIA (8-3)
PASSING CMP YDS TD INT. AVG. T. Savage 54.5% 1,764 11 4 176.4
CMP YDS TD INT. AVG. PASSING J. Brown 64.7% 2,013 11 8 183.0
RUSHING NO. J. Martinek 178 59 J. Brooks
RUSHING N. Devine J. Brown
NO. YDS TD LNG AVG. 5.9 209 1232 11 88 3.9 100 387 5 26
RECEIVING J. Sanders A. Arnett B. Starks N. Devine
NO. 65 40 26 20
YDS TD LNG AVG. 874 9 61 4.9 278 4 57 4.7
RECEIVING NO. YDS TD LNG AVG. 51 1,051 8 81 20.6 T. Brown 41 437 1 37 10.7 M. Sanu 10 94 1 28 S. Graves 8.5 7 48 0 26 K. Young 6.9 TKL SCK 0 74 1 67 40 6.5
ANDREW HOWARD/ PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
West Virginia’s senior quarterback Jarrett Brown has two wins over the Scarlet Knights to his name, including a 317-yard output in the triple-overtime thriller that closed out the 2006 season.
BY STEVEN MILLER CORRESPONDENT
In one small sentence, Kevin Haslam summed up what this game is about. “That’s a long time, but it’s different people playing now,” the senior left-tackle said. It has been a long time since the Rutgers football team beat West Virginia — 15 years to be exact — but the different people include the most decorated senior class ever for the Scarlet Knights. The 15 seniors that will be honored before their final game at Rutgers Stadium tomorrow is the first class of fifth years that went to a bowl each year, while the true seniors ended every season with a bowl win. Still, none of them beat the Mountaineers — something even the true freshmen are aware of. “We haven’t beaten them in a while, right?” freshman quarterback Tom Savage asked. Right, as long as a 17-12 RU victory in 1994 qualifies as “a while.” Although Savage is up on his history, freshman linebacker Steve Beauharnais is aware of the challenge presented by No. 24 West Virginia in a different way. “I used to use [tailback Noel Devine] in NCAA [Football] all the time before I thought about coming to Rutgers,” Beauharnais said. “He’s a good player and it’s going
to be a pleasure playing against him. I used a lot of Jarrett Brown, too. Threw him and Pat White and the triple option and no one could stop me.” Not many stopped Devine and Brown this season, either. The junior tailback is second in the Big East in rushing, averaging 5.9 yards per carr y. Although Brown is also a running threat, the senior quarterback is second in the conference in passing yards. In 2006, starting for the injured White, Brown ran for 73 yards and threw for 244 in the triple-overtime win — the closest the Knights came to a Big East title. “When he started chucking the ball a lot in the ‘06 game, it wasn’t a shocker,” said head coach Greg Schiano. “He is a good quarterback and a good athlete. If he was ‘the guy’ with a bunch of solid guys it would be different. But he is ‘the guy’ next to ‘the guy’ [Devine], with another guy [junior wideout Jock Sanders]. That is tough.” It is especially tough when Devine draws comparisons to Barry Sanders. “Barry led the league in negative plays because he was so quick and so confident in his cutting ability and speed that he would make some cuts where I am sure the Oline coach would say, ‘What are you doing?’” Schiano said. “After a while you stop saying that because every eighth one he pops it. [Comparing
someone] to Barry Sanders doesn’t happen much, but Noel Devine does it the same way.” Devine is at the head of a team that averages 185.5 rushing yards per game — the best in the Big East — and has speed to burn. “They’re going to be tough for our defense,” said junior safety Joe Lefeged. “They have four or five guys that look like they run a 4.3 on tape. It’s going to be a big challenge for our team and we just have to do a good job swarming to the football.” The level of RU’s success could impact their postseason fate, although just as much hinges on the virtual Big East Championship between No. 5 Cincinnati and No. 14 Pittsburgh. Should the Bearcats remain undefeated, the Scarlet Knights could be headed to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., to face Miami — where Schiano once coached. Return trips to the PapaJohns.com Bowl or International Bowl are also options. Cincinnati might control RU’s destiny more than the Knights do, but the first win over WVU in 15 years would certainly help. “I wouldn’t say it’s motivation, because I really haven’t looked at [the bowl options],” Haslam said. “I guess for some people it can be motivation, but I think most people on this team are more focused on West Virginia. Really, it’s just an honor to go to a bowl.”
D. McCourty R. D’Imperio G. Johnson
INT 1 1 0
YDS 612 536 375 149
TD 3 3 2 1
LNG AVG. 9.4 38 46 13.4 58 14.4 7.4 20
TKL SCK 71 1 54 0 49 1.5
P. Lazear K. Tandy S. Glover
INJURIES Probable — WR Tim Brown (ankle) Doubtful — WR Mark Harrison (head), DE Justin Francis (lower extremity)
INJURIES Probable — RB N. Devine (lower body) Questionable — NT J. Taylor (back)
SCHEDULE Sept. 7 Sept. 12 Sept. 19 Sept. 26 Oct. 10 Oct. 16 Oct. 23 Oct. 31 Nov. 12 Nov. 21 Nov. 27 Dec. 5
SCHEDULE Sept. 5 Sept. 12 Sept. 19 Oct. 1 Oct. 10 Oct. 17 Oct. 24 Oct. 30 Nov. 7 Nov. 13 Nov. 27 Dec. 5
L, 47-15 Cincinnati W, 45-7 Howard W, 23-15 FIU W, 34-13 Maryland Texas Southern W, 42-0 L, 24-17 Pittsburgh W, 27-10 Army W, 28-24 Connecticut South Florida W, 31-0 L, 31-13 Syracuse W, 34-14 Louisville West Virginia TBA
Liberty East Carolina Auburn Colorado Syracuse Marshall Connecticut South Florida Louisville Cincinnati Pittsburgh Rutgers
INT 0 3 1
W, 33-20 W, 35-20 L, 41-30 W, 35-24 W, 34-13 W, 24-7 W, 28-24 L, 30-19 W, 17-9 L, 24-21 W, 19-16 TBA
Key Matchup RU Coach Greg Schiano vs. WVU Coach Bill Stewart Greg Schiano has never beaten West Virginia and RU hasn’t won since 1994. With the recruiting lounge operating for the first time and a potential berth in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on the line, Schiano has to pull out all the stops against second-year head coach Bill Stewart.
STARTING LINEUP: OFFENSE
TIM BROWN Wide Receiver
ANTHONY DAVIS Tackle
ART FORST Guard
RYAN BLASZCZYK Center
HOWARD BARBIERI Guard
KEVIN HASLAM Tackle
D.C. JEFFERSON Tight End
MOHAMED SANU Wide Receiver
TOM SAVAGE Quarterback
JACK CORCORAN Fullback
JOE MARTINEK Running Back
Senior 5’-8”, 210 lbs
Junior 6’-6”, 325 lbs
Sophomore 6’-8”, 310 lbs
Senior 6’-4”, 295 lbs
Junior 6’-5”, 300 lbs
Senior 6’-7”, 295 lbs
R-Freshman 6’-6”, 245 lbs
Freshman 6’-2”, 215 lbs
Freshman 6’-5”, 230 lbs
Senior 6’-1”, 230 lbs
Sophomore 6’-0”, 215 lbs
JOE LEFEGED Strong Safety
ZAIRE KITCHEN Free Safety
DEVIN McCOURTY Cornerback
Junior 6’-1”, 205 lbs
Senior 6’-2”, 215 lbs
Senior 5’-11”, 190 lbs
STARTING LINEUP: DEFENSE
GEORGE JOHNSON Right end
CHARLIE NOONAN Tackle
SCOTT VALLONE Tackle
ALEX SILVESTRO Left end
DAMASO MUNOZ Linebacker
RYAN D’IMPERIO Linebacker
DAVID ROWE Cornerback
Senior 6’-4”, 260 lbs
Junior 6’-2”, 270 lbs
R-Freshman 6’-3”, 270 lbs
Junior 6’-4”, 260 lbs
Senior 6’-0”, 220 lbs
Senior 6’-3”, 245 lbs
Freshman 6’-2”, 230 lbs
Sophomore 6’-0”, 195 lbs
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
DECEMBER 4, 2009
KNIGHT NUGGETS BY THE NUMBERS With 320 receiving yards in his last two games, senior wide receiver Tim Brown can pass Kenny Britt’s school record in receiving yards in a season, set in 2008 with 1,371 yards.
The Mountaineers won their last 14 games against the Scarlet Knights, dating back to 1994 when current WCTC color announcer Ray Lucas was the starting quarterback for Rutgers.
Before the game, the Rutgers football team will honor 22 graduating seniors in the last home game of the season, including eight fifth-year seniors and nine starters.
West Virginia sophomore safety Robert Sands leads the Big East with five interceptions this season. The Mountaineers’ 15 picks this season are also tops in the conference.
Can the Rutgers defense contain West Virgina RB Noel Devine again?
WVU RB NOEL DEVINE
Rutgers held the speedy running back to 2.9 yards per carry last season and kept him out of the end zone in both of his career games against the Scarlet Knights.
THE ADVANTAGE GOES TO ... OFFENSE
Jarrett Brown beat RU once before, as a true freshman in 2006 in a triple-overtime, season finale thriller.
Rutgers still has the best statistical defense in the Big East and has the fifth-most takeaways in the country.
Bill Stewart’s decision to QB sneak out of the shotgun on fourth down last year almost cost WVU the game.
ANDREW HOWARD/ PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Senior wideout Tim Brown needs 320 yards and two touchdowns to tie a pair of Rutgers football records set by Kenny Britt and Marco Battaglia. Brown racked up 124 yards and a score last week vs. Louisville.
West Virginia has 14 consecutive wins against Rutgers. Enough said.
BIG DREAMS Undersized wideout Brown sets sights on pro career BY SAM HELLMAN ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR
The Mountaineers head to Piscataway fresh off beating No. 8 Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl.
If the Big East’s second-leading rusher breaks out against Rutgers, the game will be a walk in the park.
RUTGERS WINS IF...
WVU WINS IF ...
IT DOES NOTHING
IN THE PREVIOUS
Though stats may not show it, Jarrett Brown and Noel Devine coupled to tear apart the Knights each time they squared off.
WVU won by a combined 41 points in its last two trips to Rutgers Stadium, including a 31-3 massacre in 2007.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If everyone was like [senior cornerback Devin McCourty], I could see this team being undefeated and going to the National Championship.”
RYAN D’IMPERIO SENIOR LB
WEST VIRGINIA 34-17 The 15th time is not the charm for RU as Jarrett Brown beats the Scarlet Knights again.
Like all college students, Tim Brown is a man with many dreams. The senior wide receiver has dreams of the NFL, of making a name for himself, of graduation and of being a good father. But one of his dreams will never come true. “Every day I wake up, I think I’m 6-foot-2 or I feel like I’m 6-foot3,” the 5-foot-8, 165-pound native of Miami said. “It’s a short guy’s dream to be tall, but I wasn’t blessed to be tall so I have to work with God’s gifts, so that’s what I do.” In fact, his size is the only thing keeping him from being an early pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has the speed, widely considered the fastest wideout in the Big East. He has the hands, making 110 catches in his fouryear career. And he certainly has the production. Brown is the Rutgers football team’s all-time leading receiver in terms of touchdowns (19). He has nine career 100-yard games. His 2,158 career yards are good for fifth all-time with the Scarlet Knights, and his 1,051 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season put him within 320 yards and two touchdowns of school records in the two categories. “I know this: There are not a lot of people on the planet that play the game of football that run as fast as Tim Brown,” said head coach Greg Schiano. “Speed is one thing, but Tim has shown that he is a receiver as well. He is not just a deep-ball catcher. He has made some incredible catches. I fully anticipate he will be playing on Sundays like the rest of those guys.”
Brown has NFL aspirations, he said, and whenever he hears questions about his size, he just points to examples of other players. “Like I’ll tell any scout, I’m not a big target, but I definitely try to play like I’m 6-foot-4,” he said. “The guy who’s opening everybody’s eyes right now is DeSean Jackson. I look at that guy and I say, ‘Wow, that guy could be me some day.’ He’s not far away from me and that’s what I’m saying — speed kills.” Because of his days in Miami, Brown knows many NFL standouts that he plans to look to for advice after the season ends.
“It’s a short guy’s dream to be tall, but I wasn’t blessed to be tall so I have to work with God’s gifts.” TIM BROWN Senior Wide Receiver
“That’s who I work out with when I go home for the summer,” Brown said. “Santana [and Sinorice] Moss, Willis McGahee, they’re close friends of mine. I had a brother that played high school and he got to know those guys, and those guys saw me coming up and got to know me. The one I really work out with is Willis McGahee. He’s a special friend of mine.” The question for Brown at the beginning of the year was whether the small receiver could handle the workload of a No. 1 receiver.
“I’ve played through whole seasons without sitting out any games, so it’s not like I got injured and had to sit out three or four games. I played ever y game,” Brown said of the knocks on his toughness. “The hits are going to come and they’re something that I wait on. I like to feel it sometimes. I like to be hit.” If there were still any questions about Brown’s toughness going into last week, he answered them with 124 yards and a touchdown against Louisville on one ankle. Brown said he’s working to be 100 percent for Senior Day tomorrow against West Virginia but is not sure if the speed will be there. “I knew it was going to hurt me a lot, but I just went out there and played,” Brown said. “In my mind I already knew it was going to hurt me a lot after the game, so I just had to go and do my all and that’s what I did. I’m getting close. I’m getting better and better.” Brown’s shining moment at RU came Oct. 31 of this season against Connecticut. In the first home game for the Huskies since the death of Jasper Howard, Brown honored his fallen friend before the game when he joined in a moment of silence and made him proud four quarters later when his 81-yard reception with less than a minute left gave the Knights a 28-24 win. “I just looked up into the sky and knew that he was looking at me,” Brown said after the game. “He probably would have called me right now and been like, ‘There’s nothing he could have done about it.’ It was a great ball and a great catch. “I don’t know if he would have thought he would have caught me or not. Jazz was a guy that always thinks he’s so fast. He probably would have said he would have caught me.”
DECEMBER 4, 2009
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
T HE DAILY TARGUM’S
DEVIN M CCOURTY
Targum’s Sports Editor Matthew Stein chats with the senior captain about sibling interaction, making vanilla pudding his school lunch and raising the sword for the alma mater ... Matthew Stein: I remember last year, I asked you what the sibling rivalry was like with your brother Jason lining up at the opposite cornerback position. Do you still sort of have that now, where he looks at your college games and you look at his NFL games and rag on each other? Devin McCourty: He does it a lot because he is able to watch more of my games, and it’s something he’s already done. So when something happens he’ll text me and we’ll joke, and if I watch something I’ll text him. So yeah, we go back and forth. MS: So what about when he introduced himself on Monday Night Football as from the “University of Rutgers?” DM: At first I didn’t notice because I was so excited to see him in the starting lineup. We had talked about that like a week before. MS: He knew ahead of time he was going to start? DM: No, we were watching a game and texting each other, and he said, “I wish one day I could get on that and do that.” And then I actually saw him do it. So I didn’t really make fun of him for it. MS: You didn’t get on him about it later on? DM: He was starting. I couldn’t say much.
JOHN PENA/ SENIOR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The Scarlet Knights defeated North Carolina State in last season’s PapaJohns.com Bowl 29-23. The Rutgers football team can go to a higher-tier postseason game by defeating the Mountaineers.
Season finale creates perfect storm
ear International Bowl, PapaJohns.com Bowl and Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Please, don’t take Rutgers. I know they travel well and have the New York market thing going for them, but no one really wants to see RU come in and stomp all over a Mid-Atlantic Conference team like Central Michigan, Temple or Ohio. Toronto tried that two years ago with Ball State, and it was pathetic. Also, Bowl destinations are supposed to be nice. Toronto is cold, boring and expensive. Detroit is cold, boring, crimeinfested and dirty. Alabama … well it wasn’t cold, but it was Alabama. That should say it all. If the Knights lose to West Virginia and fall to fifth in the Big East, please pass and let it fall to St. Petersburg, where the weather is warm, we can take a break from finals and — even though the Knights would still massacre a Conference USA opponent — it would be in Florida in December. Sincerely, Ever y Rutgers fan across the country. It must be hard to stay focused on the task at hand when two great forces are colliding to create the perfect storm in Rutgers football. Tomorrow’s regular season finale directly determines where the Scarlet Knights go bowling for the fifth consecutive season. Also, it’s West Virginia. A team the Knights have not beaten since Vanilla Ice was still relevant 14 years ago.
Mind of Stein MATTHEW STEIN “It’s definitely going to be an emotional game,” senior linebacker Damaso Munoz said. “It’s our last game as seniors, and we want to go out and win the game. I think the young guys know that and understand that it’s our last game, and it’s ver y important.” Couple the concept of beating the hated Mountaineers for the first time in head coach Greg Schiano’s tenure with the desire to go to a better postseason game than either the International Bowl or the PapaJohns.com Bowl, and you get a fired up Rutgers squad anxious to send itself to Charlotte. “I want to go to a better Bowl game than we’ve been to the past couple of years,” said senior wideout Tim Brown. “We’re going to do whatever we can to come out with a win. After Saturday, we’ll see whatever the result is going to be. We take it one game at a time. If you want to make it to a good 13, you have to take care of this one.” Luckily for Schiano, he outclasses West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart in every aspect of the
coaching game — shocker, I know — and will not have his team come out flat like in 2007. RU only averages one of those a year, and that already happened against Syracuse. So with that, it comes down to Bowl destination. “I would love to go to a better Bowl, but every Bowl experience is something new to me,” said senior safety Zaire Kitchen. “We gain experience with a lot of different cultures, but any individual you ask the question to would say ‘Yes, we want to go to a better Bowl.’” Of course, that could all change tomorrow. The Meineke Car Care Bowl takes the Knights, pits them against Miami, Schiano faces off against the team he spurned to stay in Piscataway, and RU finally goes to a quality Bowl game. The story lines are set. A win over West Virginia gives RU third place in the Big East, a trip to Charlotte and — finally — a great game to send out the most storied class in Rutgers history. Maybe more importantly, down the road, it lifts the burden of having not beat the Mountaineers. “We’re down to the end,” said junior defensive end Alex Silvestro. “We’re 8-3; this is our last game against a good, tough team. It’s going to be a battle honestly, for either team it’s going to be a big win.” — Matthew Stein accepts comments and criticism at firstname.lastname@example.org
MS: What was the hardest hit you ever took on a football field? DM: Probably last year against Louisville, I got crack-backed on a kickoff. I never saw the guy coming. It was towards the end of the game — some guy just came and blindsided me. MS: Who have become your best friends on the team, since you lost a lot of your classmates last season? DM: I’ve become closer with Brandon Bing, Joe Lefeged and Pat Brown. Pat and Bing are my roommates, so those three guys are my best friends now. MS: What was your elementary school lunch of choice? DM: Vanilla pudding. MS: That’s not a lunch. DM: That was my lunch. Vanilla pudding, and I used to have a ham sandwich or something. MS: Are you a hoagie or a sub type of guy? DM: I call them subs. MS: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? DM: I have no idea. I don’t like Tootsie Pops. MS: What’s something we don’t know about you? DM: Every game I play in, I have No. 30 and No. 21 on my cleats — Jay’s number and my number. MS: What do you do for fun, outside of football? DM: I’m just now starting to play some video games, so that’s been a new hobby. I haven’t played for really my whole college career. I’m playing NCAA, and then I’m waiting to get “Call of Duty” because I hear it’s really addicting. MS: Say you beat West Virginia and you are crowding for the alma mater. Three years ago it was Brian Leonard and last year it was Mike Teel. Who gets the sword? DM: I would have to say Tim Brown gets the sword. An offensive guy, the top receiver, he’s done things that people didn’t think he could do. MS: That’s funny, because he said you. DM: I would give him the sword. MS: What did you learn about yourself through this exercise? DM: I guess that everybody has answers to some weird questions.
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
DECEMBER 4, 2009
T HIS W EEK ’S FOOTBALL A CTION
TA R GUM S P O R TS S TA FF No. 24 West Virginia at RUTGERS No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 14 Pittsburgh No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Florida No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 25 Clemson No. 3 Texas vs. No. 21 Nebraska
ANDREW HOWARD/ PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
The Scarlet Knights may have to adjust their protection of freshman quarterback Tom Savage, who was sacked nine times vs. Syracuse.
No. 24 West Virginia at RUTGERS No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 14 Pittsburgh No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Florida No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 25 Clemson No. 3 Texas vs. No. 21 Nebraska
MATTHEW STEIN SPORTS EDITOR OVERALL: 14-11
Texas West Virginia Cincinnati
STEVEN MILLER CORRESPONDENT OVERALL: 14-11
West Virginia Cincinnati Florida
SAM HELLMAN FOOTBALL BEAT WRITER OVERALL: 22-3
KYLE FRANKO ASSOC. SPORTS EDITOR OVERALL: 12-13
WR S U S P O R TS S TA FF
Unique 3-5-5 takes o-line out of place I n this week’s edition of Football 101, we take a look at West Virginia’s unusual 33-5 defense. The Mountaineers employ three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs, rather than a typical sevenman front. “It’s different,” said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. “Everything about the defense is a little different than what we’ve seen. We may have to adapt some blocking schemes. We’ll see.” The Mountaineers defense leads the Big East with 15 interceptions, headed by safety Robert Sands. The sophomore’s five picks are also the best in the conference. But the defense poses the greatest challenge to the offensive line.
“Just the uniqueness of it — it changes your combination blocks,” Schiano said. “We have some shades that usually we don’t have most other weeks. By ‘shades’ I mean how they line up on your offensive line.” The Scarlet Knights’ offensive line, which allowed the secondmost sacks in the conference, has to adjust to the defense that plans to get after freshman quarterback Tom Savage. “I see a youngster that is doing absolutely awesome,” WVU head coach Bill Stewart said of Savage. “He has ‘it.’ We have to rattle him. I don’t know if we can. He has been hit and knocked down, but he just makes plays and throws balls on the money.” — Staff Report
LEFEGED, NOONAN END LONG DRAUGHT AGAINST MOUNTAINEERS The streak ends now. Well, that’s if NCAA Football 2010 has anything to say about it. In The Daily Targum’s weekly simulation, the Rutgers football team downs 24th ranked West Virginia 23-11 to close out the regular season. Thanks to eight tackles, three sacks and an interception by safety Joe Lefeged, the Scarlet Knights held West Virginia without a touchdown, amounting just three field goals and a safety. Quarterback Jarrett Brown could not renew his 2006 magic, throwing three picks and completing just 12-of-32 passes. Standout tailback Noel Devine continued to struggle against the Knights’ defense, amounting 73 yards on 17 attempts with a long of just seven yards. Offensively, quarterback Tom Savage completed 15-of-39 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Savage’s touchdown pass came on a 19-yard strike to receiver Tim Brown, who finished with six catches for 59 yards in his final game on the Banks. Sophomore running back Joe Martinek ran for just 21 yards on 17 attempts, but still punched his way into the end zone from a yard out. Defensive tackle Charlie Noonan provided the other RU touchdown when he returned a fumble 14 yards for a touchdown. Though the wins and losses are different, NCAA 2010 predicts a berth in the Meineke Car Care Bowl and a rematch with Russell Wilson and North Carolina State. After the season, Lefeged and left tackle Anthony Davis left early for the NFL Draft, tight end Tony Trahan transferred to Buffalo and lineman Devon Watkis transferred to New Mexico. — Staff Report
No. 24 West Virginia at RUTGERS No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 14 Pittsburgh No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Florida No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 25 Clemson No. 3 Texas vs. No. 21 Nebraska No. 24 West Virginia at RUTGERS No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 14 Pittsburgh No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Florida No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 25 Clemson No. 3 Texas vs. No. 21 Nebraska
DANNY BRESLAUER GENERAL MANAGER OVERALL: 15-10
Florida ARMANDO MARTINEZ WRSU OUTLAW OVERALL: 17-8
Ga. Tech Texas
ADAM HELFGOTT SPORTS DIRECTOR OVERALL: 16-9
Florida Georgia Tech Texas
JEFF TILLERY PROGRAM DIRECTOR OVERALL: 16-9
DECEMBER 4, 2009
Fifth-year sen to make postse BY SAM HELLMAN ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR
RAMON DOMPOR/ ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Senior Ryan Blaszczyk (61) started 37 games at center for the Rutgers football team, a streak that is likely to continue through his fifth consecutive postseason appearance. Blaszczyk is one of three captains on the Scarlet Knights.
‘Old Reliable’ not center of attention STAFF WRITER
build on a lot of the things he taught me.”
Just call Rutgers senior center Ryan Blaszczyk “Old Reliable.” He started 37 consecutive games for the Rutgers football team over the past three seasons. He was named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top center, each of the past two seasons. Yet with stars like Kenny Britt, Ray Rice and Anthony Davis playing alongside him on of fense, Blaszczyk flew under the radar in terms of garnering attention from fans and the media. But this seems to fit his workmanlike approach to the game. The former Shawnee High School standout moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore for the first time as a Scarlet Knight. Blaszczyk attempted to fill the mighty big shoes of Rimington Trophy finalist Darnell Stapleton, and some wondered if the redshirt sophomore was up to the task. However, by the end of that season, any doubts about his ability to anchor the offensive line were erased. “Darnell took me under his wing and we spent a lot of time together on and off the field,” Blaszczyk said. “Since he left, I’ve tried to
Blaszczyk’s career at RU has come full circle. He went from student to teacher, aiding the progression of the younger members of the offensive line. “Ryan always knows just about ever y detail of whatever it is we’re working on,” said sophomore guard Ar t Forst. “He was really great last year
BY TYLER DONOHUE
with helping me become acclimated as a freshman, and he’s still there to help me when I need it.” Over the past three years, the Knights’ offensive line was a revolving door. Some players moved on to the National Football League, while others succumbed to injury. The unit’s mainstay in the middle, however, remained the same. Blaszczyk is the only member of the team’s offense to start every game since 2007, which his teammates say is a testament to his character. “He’s definitely been the one constant for us as an offensive line,” Forst said. “He’s always reliable if anyone has a question about schemes, and he has a ver y high football IQ.” With a bevy of games under his belt, Blaszczyk pinpoints RU’s 2007 victor y over secondranked South Florida as the highlight of his career thus far. But he is quick to point out that tomorrow’s contest against West Virginia is ver y important to him. A former teammate is the toughest defender he has gone head-to-head with at the collegiate level, Blaszczyk said without hesitation. “It has to be [former RU nose guard] Ramel Meekins,” he said. “Going up against him as a mem-
ber of the scout team was a great challenge. I attribute a lot of the way I play to him because he made me a more physical player.” In his senior season, Blaszczyk spent his first year with a quarterback not named Mike Teel. True freshman quarterback Tom Savage won the starting job in the second week of the season and has 1,764 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. “The way the seniors helped us out, we’re going to do the best to help them out and end their season on a great note and end their career on a great note,” Savage said. “This is the game ever yone’s looking for ward to.” When he breaks the of fensive huddle shor tly after noon tomorrow, it marks the 38th straight game in which Blaszczyk is the first Knight to touch the ball on of fense. At some point in the next month, he will star t in his third consecutive bowl. Offensive linemen traditionally stay out of the limelight and Blaszczyk is no exception. Rice, the McCourty twins and Tiquan Under wood will likely always overshadow him when fans recall the Knights’ 2005 recruiting class. Whether he was snapping the football to Teel in the shotgun or freshman wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the Wild Knight, Blaszczyk was at the center of things for the majority of the team’s most successful era to date.
Five seasons, five bowl games. Before the 2005 Insight Bowl, it looked more like 136 seasons, one bowl game for the Rutgers football team. For the first time in school history, the Scarlet Knights have five consecutive bowl appearances, and seven fifth-year seniors were a part of all of them. “I think sometimes as you have the quest to be best, you can lose sight of some achievements,” said head coach Greg Schiano. “During the year is not the time, but I will make sure at the conclusion of this year that I do make a bigger deal of it. “This is a program that is eventually going to be the best. I am not saying people shouldn’t have heightened expectations, but when you do look at this senior class and see fivestraight bowl games, that is a heck of a feat.” Fifth-year senior cornerback Devin McCourty, who started in the last three RU bowl games, acknowledged the significance of the achievement, but said it’s the kind of thing that won’t sink in until it is over. “I think that will be good talk for our annual football banquet,” McCourty said. “As a senior class, both those guys that came in and are no longer here, and the guys that are still here, I think that shows the kind of work ethic that we came in with. Following the older guys like Brian Leonard and Eric
Linebacker Damaso Munoz is one of seven fifth football team to five consecutive Bowl games f
DECEMBER 4, 2009
niors first class eason each year Foster and Shawn Tucker and being able to continue what they started, I think that shows where the program is headed.” Fifth-year senior Kevin Haslam, a starter at right tackle in the PapaJohns.com Bowl, attributes the historic mark to having the right mindset and determination. “You never go into a season and think we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “Things change. Every team goes out onto the field with the mindset that they’re going to win. I don’t think any team enters the season and thinks they’re not going to a bowl.” Andrew DePaola, starting long snapper in the PapaJohns.com Bowl and holder in the International Bowl, said that the best part is seeing players’ roles evolve throughout the bowl games. “I guess that means that all of our hard work and preparation truly pays off,” the fifth-year senior from Parkton, Md., said. “In 2005, the first bowl game that started it off, we were on the scout team preparing the starters and now we’re actually playing in them. It’s nothing we aimed to do, but this is just icing on the cake.” Against West Virginia, win or lose, the Knights are going bowling immediately afterwards for the fifth straight time in school history. “It’s been pretty cool,” said fifth-year senior walk-on Billy Anderson. “Considering the past that Rutgers has had, it’s nice to be a part of history.”
ANDREW HOWARD/ PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Senior cornerback Devin McCourty owns the school record for blocked kicks, including this rejected field goal right before halftime two weeks ago against Syracuse. The captain is the first Scarlet Knight to return a kick for a touchdown since Willie Foster in 2005 against Villanova.
King of versatility raising draft stock BY STEVEN MILLER CORRESPONDENT
RAMON DOMPOR/ ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
h-year seniors that helped take the Rutgers or the first time in program history.
Sometime during his senior season, people started asking about Devin McCourty. It might have been the teamhigh tackles, the blocked kicks or the return for a touchdown, but the senior cornerback caught some eyes. “I have people back home asking about No. 21 who want to know all this about him,” said sophomore cornerback David Rowe, from Cocoa, Fla. “He’s really making a name for himself. When you’re out there playing, you don’t really get to see what other people are doing. But when you come in and watch film, just sit back and watch, it’s amazing what he’s done.” After all the questions, the answers are amazing too. Rowe called him a great player, clarifying that he’s great, not good. Redshirt freshman safety Khaseem Greene called M c C o u r t y “Superman,” and head coach Greg
Schiano called him a playmaker that does thing he’d never seen in 21 years. Fellow senior captain Ryan D’Imperio is impressed as well. “He’s someone that you look at as a leader and you want younger kids to follow — he’s the prime example,” D’Imperio said. “If ever yone was like him, I could see this team being undefeated and going to t h e
National Championship.” The Rutgers football team is not headed to the BCS title game, but it is bowl-bound for the fifth straight season, each of which McCourty was a part of. Ask McCourty about himself and he brings it back to the team. Ask him about the team and the pride is obvious. “There’s just a buzz that we created around here in New Jersey,” McCourty said. “You’ll
have people come up to you and say, ‘Good game,’ or how proud they are. Just talking to young kids and hearing how the first thing they say is, ‘I want to go to Rutgers so bad.’ That’s from them watching us and reading about us and knowing what we did around here. That has to make you proud as a person.” Although he redshirted in 2005, the first year RU went to a bowl since 1978, McCourty was part of the turnaround from the beginning. “He’s been a really productive player since the day he stepped on the field,” Schiano said. “He was fortunate that he got to redshirt — I wish we could have redshirted [his twin] Jason too — because this year has been big. That fifth year there’s more maturity, experience, strength and speed. But the first time he stepped on the field for us in ’06 he was intercepting passes and making plays.” McCourty intercepted four passes in his first two years and only one since, but this year is far-and-away his best.
His defense is not flashy, but his special teams play is. McCourty’s seven tackles, three blocked kicks, forced fumble and touchdown return on special teams make his defense an afterthought — if 67 tackles,
seven for a loss and an interception could be ignored. “His big plays are mostly on special teams, but people forget he’s also our shut down corner,” said junior safety Joe Lefeged. “He’s the leading tackler on the team and he covers the best receiver every week. He does a great job limiting their best player to minimal catches.” McCourty’s 74 tackles are a team high — an uncommon feat for a cornerback. “It’s not something you see on a regular basis,” McCourty said. “Just in our scheme I’ve been able to be in places to make plays, then with all my special team’s plays that adds some tackles in. On the team we’re all spread out with tackles, we don’t have just one guy who is dominant.” Both Devin and Jason were natural leaders that stepped up as captains, Schiano said, and the McCourty brothers were as important to the rejuvenation of the Knights as anyone. The last two years the starting cornerbacks were the McCourty brothers, and this was their first year apart. “I think we’ll always be the McCourty brothers,” McCourty said. “I still get questions about him and being apart from each other. It’s just me this year but we’ll always be connected.” And while they might still be connected, something changed. People star ted asking about Devin McCour ty.
G A M E DAY
DECEMBER 4, 2009
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
DAN BRACAGLIA/ MULTIMEDIA EDITOR
Senior linebacker Ryan D’Imperio returned from injury to play 11 games in the 2007 season with screws in his leg and eventually started the season finale. The Sewell, N.J., native ranks second on the Rutgers football team with 67 tackles from the middle linebacker position and scored a defensive touchdown against Florida International.
Work ethic leaves lasting impression BY STEVEN MILLER CORRESPONDENT
Ryan D’Imperio does not listen to Devin McCourty. Maybe it is because they are both senior captains or maybe the middle linebacker is just stubborn, but D’Imperio has yet to take McCourty’s advice. No matter how many times the cornerback tells D’Imperio to take a break, it never happens. “He’s played hurt and he’s practiced hurt, no matter what happened,” McCourty said. “You’ll be like, ‘Ryan, what are you doing? Sit down for a second.’ But he doesn’t. He’s a guy whose motor is always running, and that rubs off on the guys around him.” The motor ran from day one, as D’Imperio played in ever y game as a true freshman. He only recorded two tackles, but made enough of an impact to be the projected starter at middle linebacker his sophomore season. Then, during spring practices in April, he broke his leg. “That leg injury, as incredibly resilient as he was … changed his trajectory a little bit because it was months of getting back just to where he was,” said head coach Greg Schiano. “But that’s part of football too. You can’t say the ‘what if’ game. It could have been worse and he could never play again. So I think you just take the cards you’re dealt, and I think that’s what Ryan’s done.” D’Imperio began to develop the reputation that he since earned: a fighter.
The Sewell, N.J., native played the 2007 season with screws in his leg, returning to the field for the third game, increased his playing time and started the finale. But in his time out, D’Imperio made the most of his opportunity. “In a way it hurt, because I missed the on-field experience,” D’Imperio said. “But it also helped, because I got to look at things from the coach’s view. I could sit back and watch things from a distance, and that actually went a long way.”
“He’s a guy whose motor is always running, and that rubs off on the guys around him.” DEVIN MCCOURTY Senior Cornerback
For the last two seasons, D’Imperio started at middle linebacker, making the calls and taking advantage of his time from the coach’s perspective. Two years later, the Washington Township High School product recognizes the benefits. “It helped more knowing the defense,” D’Imperio said. “I got to sit back and watch the captains and leaders at that time and see how they performed and acted. It definitely gave me a good look at things.”
Now D’Imperio is one of those leaders, setting an example with his work ethic, despite the fact that he was banged up since training camp. “He plays [middle linebacker] and has a physical job, but he’s a tough guy,” said senior linebacker Damaso Munoz. “At this point, we’re all banged up, but he keeps fighting through it. It’s just how you deal with it. You put it aside, play and go full blow on Saturday.” As a junior, D’Imperio finished second on the team with 93 tackles. This year, he is again second with 67. The tackles for loss, sacks and fumbles are not there, but D’Imperio is doing his part in a defense that created more takeaways than all but four teams in college football. All of those teams played one more game than the Scarlet Knights. Clearly, he learned to put the injuries aside. “When you think about it, that’s how you alter the way you play or act differently on the field,” D’Imperio said. “Over time, you just learn to play with it. You’re going to get nicked up; you’re going to get hurt. You just have to get used to it.” B u t injuries are not the only things D’Imperio forgets about.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker intercepted two passes in his career. One came on the goal line against Nor th Carolina State in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. The other he retur ned 38 yards for a touchdown — the
deciding score — against Florida International. Most would look at those plays as highlights of a career, but not D’Imperio. “I guess I’m a different breed — stuff like that and the good things that you do, you have to put behind you,” he said. “The bad things that you do and mistakes you make you need to correct, get better on and not make again.” D’Imperio does not view Senior Day as a time to reflect on a career, either. “Ever ything I wanted when I came here just fit perfectly,” D’Imperio said. “I took my visit — it was my only visit — and ever ything just clicked. I committed on my visit and never looked back. Where I’m at now is just by treating it one game at a time, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.” And with just two games remaining, the linebacker will continue something else. He will not listen to McCourty. “That’s the funny thing about him,” McCourty said. “Any time he gets hurt, you just ask him if he’s alright, but you don’t want to ask him if he’s playing. You know there is no way he would miss a game.”
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
BIGEAST GAME OF THE WEEK AT No. 5 CINCINNATI
DECEMBER 4, 2009
SOUTH FLORIDA at CONNECTICUT
Any team that loses to South Florida after the middle of October has no right going to a Bowl game. After toppling Notre Dame and Syracuse, the Huskies are fighting for their Bowl lives. PREDICTION: Connecticut, 17-10 SYRACUSE, LOUISVILLE
No. 14 PITTSBURGH
Marked on the calendars weeks ago as the de facto Big East championship bout, the victor will go to the Sugar Bowl as the conference’s BCS representative. Cincinnati is also playing for its slim national title hopes, while the Panthers risk dropping into the depths of the Big East’s postseason pecking order.
Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe was removed after three awful seasons just as Greg Robinson was exiled from Syracuse after three of his own. It’s rebuilding time for two historical powers in the Big East.
BIG EAST POWER POLL Football
DAN BRACAGLIA/ MULTIMEDIA EDITOR
Pittsburgh’s true freshman phenom running back Dion Lewis leads the conference in rushing yards.
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. the BCS computers
No. 5 CINCINNATI, 42-26
The Big East’s lone undefeated team still sits fifth in the BCS standings, behind Florida, Alabama, Texas and TCU. With much help, a win over Pitt could vault the Bearcats into the National Championship game.
Tony Pike is too much to handle as Cincy cruises into the Sugar Bowl.
TEAM RECORD BIG EAST POINTS 1. No. 5 Cincinnati 11-0 6-0 40 2. No. 14 Pittsburgh 9-2 5-1 34 3. No. 24 WVU 7-4 3-3 31 4. RUTGERS 8-3 3-3 25 5. Connecticut 8-3 4-2 20 6. South Florida 6-5 2-4 14 7. Syracuse 4-8 1-6 10 8. Louisville 4-8 1-6 6 * Eight points awarded for first place, seven for second place, etc. * Five members of The Daily Targum’s sports desk submitted ballots
DECEMBER 4, 2009
T H E DA I LY TA R G U M
WVU heartbreaks still beget lasting memories
f you are a Rutgers fan, you hate yellow and blue, think the West Virginia Mountaineer is a dumb mascot and especially hate the song “Country Roads.” There were many blowouts, a few heartbreakers and very few wins for the Scarlet Knights all-time against WVU, but here are my top five most memorable games against the Mountaineers. Honorable mentions: November 10, 1984 — RU beats No. 18 WVU 23-19 at Giants Stadium. November 11, 1989 — RU loses to No. 19 WVU 21-20 on a last-second field goal as the Mountaineer’s musket goes off before the ball makes it through the posts. October 27, 2007 — The “black uniform” game. Pat White dismantles RU 31-3 on a rainy afternoon on national TV. 5) October 30, 2004 — No. 13 WVU 35, RU 30 The Chris Henry game — Ryan Hart threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, but it was the West Virginia showboat Henry who stole the show at Rutgers Stadium. Henry got two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and was tossed from the game. Henry scored after jumping over Rutgers corner Joe Porter for a 39-yard touchdown. Henry stood up, kicked Porter’s leg and threw the ball at him. As Henry was leaving the field, he taunted the Rutgers bench and then tried to go into the stands looking for a fight. After the game, angry head coach Greg Schiano made his feelings clear. “Don’t worry about the team downstairs,” he said. “Don’t worry about this coach. Contrary to some of the popular opinion in the great state of New Jersey, people — instead of trying to build this thing — they are trying to tear it down.” 4) September 10, 1994 — RU 17, WVU 12 “This was the Scarlet Knights’ last win over the Mountaineers. It was the year Rutgers Stadium reopened, Doug Graber was the coach, Ray Lucas was the quaterback and Alcidis Catanho had the interception to win the game.
Scarlet Pulse ADAM HELFGOTT Rutgers was off to a 2-0 start but finished the year 5-5-1. 3) November 14, 1992 — RU 13, WVU 9 Ray Lucas got the start instead of Brian Fortay, and it was Marshall Roberts who tackled WVU fullback Jim Freeman inside the 10 yard line as the Mountaineers looked to score in the last minute at the old Rutgers Stadium. It was the first time all year West Virginia was held without a touchdown. RU running back Bruce Presley had 105 yards and The New York Times ran a headline the next day “Rutgers has shot at bowl.” 2) November 3, 2001 — No. 19 WVU 80, RU 7 At home, the Mountaineers punted on their first drive and then scored on their next seven. WVU had 59 points at the half and probably could have scored 120 at the game’s end. Ryan Cubit threw three interceptions for the Knights, who suffered their worst lost since 1883. 1) December 2, 2006 — No. 15 WVU 41, No. 13 RU 39 (3OT) It wasn’t the end that Rutgers fans hoped for. The Knights had a chance to earn the conference’s Bowl Championship Series berth and first ever Big East title, but Mike Teel’s two-point conversion was batted down in the end zone and Louisville earned the BCS bid. Backup quarterback Jarrett Brown started for the injured Pat White, and Steve Slaton had 112 yards and two touchdowns. James Townsend dropped a touchdown pass that would have put the Knights up 2720 with four minutes to play. Instead, Jeremy Ito made it 23-20 and Pat McAfee tied the game at 23 with just 53 seconds left. — Adam Helfgott hosts “The Scarlet Pulse” on 88.7 WRSU FM and is an employee of the University as an announcer for “Knight Vision.”
ANDREW HOWARD/ PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Billy Anderson walked on to the Rutgers football team five years ago and developed into a reliable role player in his final two seasons on the Banks as both a cornerback and on special teams.
Many seniors deserve recognition
cour the papers this week and you’ll see plenty of mentions of Tim Brown or Devin McCourty playing their last games at Rutgers Stadium. You’ll see a story here or there about Ryan Blaszczyk, Ryan D’Imperio or Damaso Munoz. And rightfully so. They were all great members of the Rutgers football team and key contributors to RU’s football renaissance in the later stages of the decade. But there are 22 graduating seniors on the roster and each one of them deserves mention for the parts they played on the Scarlet Knight team that is 42-20 since 2005.
THE DAILY TARGUM
Ray Rice and the Rutgers football team lost a heartbreaker in the 2007 season finale to West Virginia in triple overtime.
story of a walk-on that didn’t have a prayer of seeing the field when he first got here. Cornerback Billy Anderson (West Orange) didn’t care what the odds were when he walked onto the team five years ago, and he’s translated into an extremely reliable role player. “It takes a lot of determination,” Anderson said of being a walk-on. “It’s a real wake-up call because when you come here, you might have been a star in high school and then you realize quickly that ‘Wow,’ everyone’s that good. You always want to be remembered as a heads-up player and through hustle, hard work and a little bit of luck, it worked out for me.” Anderson’s heads-up plays the last two weeks were crucial for the Knights. Though RU got stomped by Syracuse, Anderson’s alert snag of an
my birthday in 2006. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Hell’s Kitchen SAM HELLMAN onsides kick set up the lone offensive touchdown for the Knights. He followed it up against Louisville with another smart play on special teams when he sensed a muff by punt returner Mohamed Sanu and fell on it before the Cardinals could capitalize. “I think that’s a product of fifthyear senior experience,” said head coach Greg Schiano. “There’s something about grown men playing on the field for you. They’re just more mature and they have more savvy. They’ve just been around it more. Billy has done that for us. Billy is as good a teammate you’re going to find.”
WOULD BE NO TALK
of a chance for a fourth straight Bowl win if it wasn’t for fullback Jack Corcoran (Atlantic City). He may not have gotten the role he deserved on offense this season, but in the PapaJohns.com Bowl last season, there would have been a different ending without Corcoran’s hands — or hand.
ONE-HANDED GRAB IN
the 29-23 win over North Carolina State was one of six catches for 61 yards. “It’s hard to believe it’s almost over,” Corcoran said. “It flew by. I still remember getting here on
2008’s 1-5 start for the Knights is, without question, a field goal that bounced off the uprights for Connecticut. But RU wouldn’t have had its 12-10 lead in the first place if senior defensive tackle Blair Bines (Shirley, N.Y.) didn’t obliterate current Indianapolis Colt Donald Brown for the goahead safety and a seven-game winning streak.
Lovelace (Tenafly) had a strange but memorable career at RU. The centerpiece of the “Jabu Package,” Lovelace excelled as a scrambling quarterback and laid the groundwork for the highly successful Wild Knight package run by Sanu. He wasn’t the same after breaking his leg last season, but he will always be remembered for the 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Army in 2007 when Mike Teel could not play with a thumb injury.
SCOUT TEAM MAY NOT
get any credit, but if the starting offenses and defenses didn’t have anyone to prepare against, practices wouldn’t exist. Alan Ajamian, Remo Fioranelli, Ryan Gluekert, Stephante Kent, Jeff Minemyer and Ramy Nubani all gave to this program and all played a key role behind the scenes. — Sam Hellman accepts comments and criticism at email@example.com
LAST RIDE Saturday’s season finale against West Virginia will be the final time 22 seniors emerge from the Rutgers Stadium tunnel
TINY TIM Senior Tim Brown overcomes 5-foot-8 frame to become one of most prolific receivers in school history pg. G3
DEFENSE CURL Ryan D’Imperio follows hard-nosed mentality to success through four years in scarlet and white pg. G8 RAMON DOMPOR/ ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR