Scouting South Florida

RutgersEarlier this year, I took notes on South Florida’s play against Big East competition (I believe I was watching their game against Cincinnati, but I can’t say with certainty. I’ve watched far too many college games this fall). I paid particular attention to their defense since their offense is essentially predicated on the play of Matt Grothe. Here’s what I have written down in my notepad:

Offensive Play
They ran the ball a lot up the middle on first down. There was not a lot of action outside the tackles and most of the run plays gained very little yardage. They did mix it up on a few plays, trying misdirection runs with Grothe out of the shotgun and a few reverses. But, for the most part, they tried pounding it up the middle with little success. With the recent play of Tverdov and Silvestro, I feel confident we can stop them if they try to do the same against us.

Their wide receivers looked like they would fit in at Rutgers. From what I remember, there were some drops on a few throws that should have been caught. One thing to note though: 6 different players recorded a pass. They spread the ball around.

Obviously, Grothe is what makes their offense go. We need to make sure we’re always aware of what he’s doing in the pocket. Getting pressure on him is going to be key, and I definitely think we’ll be able to do it. Force him into mistakes and capitalize. There will be instances where he’ll throw balls into coverage, just begging to be picked. We need to make sure we’re always prepared in the secondary. If a ball can be intercepted, we need to come up with it.

Defensive Play
The defensive line used quite a few stunts from what I recall. Led by George Selvie, they were fast, agile, and swarmed quickly. Protecting Teel and giving him time will be key, as it is for almost all our games. On one play, South Florida blitzed, but gave up a huge play down-field to Gilyard. Cincy’s offensive line did a great job picking up the blitz, giving Tony Pike time to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball downfield.

And speaking of Gilyard, he had a big game, which makes me think Tim Brown could do the same. The Bulls’ new corners are nowhere near as impressive as their predecessors, so we should be able to air the ball out quite a bit on Saturday.

Cincy used a hurry-up offense in the 2nd quarter and it worked quite well. At times this year, we’ve seen how good our hurry-up can be, so I wouldn’t be shocked if we used it on a drive or two or more.

Additionally, the short pass was there all day for Pike. Whenever Cincy was in 3rd and manageable, they succeeded in picking up the first down fairly consistently. That might be something to pay attention to.


Betim Bujari Commits

BujariIt didn’t take long for Greg Schiano to receive his first verbal commitment for the class of 2010. Offensive lineman Betim Bujari of Secacus (NJ) committed to the Scarlet Knights late last night, making him the first commitment for the class of 2010. His oral agreement to play for Rutgers comes only two months after official scholarships were permitted to be mailed to high school juniors. Bujari was recently named to the Rivals 250 Watch List for 2010. It’s important to note that these early lists are essentially blind guesses by the recruiting services. Aside from the obvious five star players, a lot of the players on the list are relatively unknown. As summer approaches and players begin to attend camps and combines (where they will have a chance to be fully evaluated), new players will enter the 250, while others will drop out. This is significant because it is highly unlikely that Bujari will attend many (if any) camps now that he has already committed (think of Mohamed Sanu’s situation this year). As a result, don’t be surprised if he drops out of the 250 over time. Nevertheless, this is rivals’ early analysis:

Bujari is very versatile as he’s played guard, center and tackle as well as defensive tackle in his high school career. Bujari plays basketball to help his footwork and won a section gold medal in both the discus and shotput in track. He originally hails from Albania.

The fact that Rutgers offered Bujari this early is a good indicator of how much they like him. (The only other known player in New Jersey to have an official offer from Rutgers as of now is QB Brandon Hill from Audubon, the same town Joe Flacco hails from). Bujari will probably end up playing at either guard or center at RU.

Some other important players on the early Rivals 250 are: OL Brent Benedict (Bolles – FL), RB Giovanni Bernard (St. Thomas Aquinas 0 FL), OL Seth Betancourt (St. Joes – PA), RB Corey Brown (Cardinal O’Hara – PA), RB Eduardo Clements (Booker T. Washington – FL), LB Khairi Fortt (Stamford – CT), WR Shakim Phillips (DePaul Catholic – NJ), RB Silas Redd (King & Low Heywood Thomas – CT), OL Mark Shuman (Fork Union Military Academy – VA), and DT Dante Weaver (New Brunswick – NJ). Rutgers has offered all except Phillips, Redd, and Weaver.


Basketball Recruiting Update (10/30)

CheekDominic Cheek is likely Coach Fred Hill’s only remaining target for the Class of 2009. And surprisingly, it looks like the St. Anthony guard is still considering the Scarlet Knights. ZAGSBLOG has indicated that Cheek might take an official visit to Rutgers at some point this winter. He has already taken officials Kansas and Villanova (his two perceived leaders) and will take two more visits to Pitt and and Memphis. Now, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’m pleasantly surprised he’s still considering us. Just for a second now, think about this . . . Corey Chandler / Mike Rosario / Dominic Cheek / Greg Echenique / Hamady N’Diaye.

Anybody else salivating at the potential of that lineup? But, like I said, I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s time to focus on the 2010 class. And speaking of the juniors, Kyrie Irving’s offer list has exploded; he now holds offers from the likes of Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, Notre Dame, and Villanova in addition to his offer from Rutgers. You can bet the RU staff is putting the full court press on Irving, as it appears Isiah Epps and Taran Buie are both lost causes. A 2010 class of Irving, Tobias Harris, and Markus Kennedy would be tremendous.


Recruiting Update (10/22)

HodgesTom Savage: Tom had a very rough game last week against St. Joe’s Prep. For those that watched the game on ESPNU, you saw a lop-sided battle between the two schools. You also saw Tom running for his life on almost every single play. Cardinal O’Hara’s offensive line, who I believe was without a usual starting guard, did not have a good game and blocked basically no one on the night. The result: a 10 for 27 performance for a measly 71 yards and 8 (yes, eight) sacks for Savage. Corey Brown is still out with a torn MCL and did not play in the game. O’Hara was also without their back-up tailback.

Aaron Hawyard: Hayward had an average game against Buena Regional. He rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries. Penns Grove lost the game 13-6.

Duron Harmon: Harmon’s Caesar Rodney team remains undefeated on the season as they beat Sussex Tech, 35-0. Harmon rushed for 107 yards on 10 carries, including one touchdown. He also had a 44 yard touchdown reception.

This and That: Gerald Hodges took an unofficial visit to Penn State last weekend for their game against Michigan. As of now, he’s still undecided between Rutgers and PSU and he hopes to have a final decision in two weeks. I feel confident that we will retain his commitment . . . After losing Desmond Scott to Duke earlier in the year, Rutgers is beginning to heat up their recruitment of tailback De’Antwan Williams from Virginia. Williams has held a Rutgers offer for quite some time. Apparently, he has a current top four:

The other day I talked with Woodbridge volunteer assistant coach Scott Enlow, who has been a close friend and mentor to Vikings star running back De’Antwan Williams since the coveted recruit was 4.

Enlow said the top colleges on Williams’s list are now Alabama, West Virginia, Maryland and Rutgers — which entered the picture only recently but has come on strong. Rivals.com rates Williams as the No. 13 overall running back prospect in the Class of 2009; they also list him as the top “inside runner” in the country (Rivals likens Williams to Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew).

The 5-foot-9, 197-pound Williams plans to take official visits within the next month to Alabama and West Virginia. Enlow said Williams would like to take more official visits if time in his schedule permits.

Ever since the recruiting process started, Williams has made it clear that he would like to play for a Southern school. Alabama has been his perceived leader for quite some time, but they currently have two running back commitments for the Class of 2009, including Trent Richardson (in my opinion, the top back in the class). Additionally, Maryland and West Virginia also have two backs committed. DJ Adams (GA) and Caleb Porzel (MD) are on board for the Terps (Rutgers had recruited DJ Adams but stopped once Desmond Scott committed). Both are fairly highly rated. West Virginia’s two commits are Daquan Hargrett (FL) and Shawne Alston (VA). I don’t know how much influence the other backs will have on Williams’ decision, but the fact that we didn’t bring in any RB for 2008 and currently don’t have one committed for 2009 has to be an advantage. One thing’s for sure: we need to get him on campus for an official visit.


Toughness Is Savage’s Best Quality

SavageTom Savage is garnering even more national publicity as his high school season wears on. Earlier this month, Sports Illustrated released an article on the gunslinger, and this week, Tom is on the cover of the latest edition of the “ESPN Rise” magazine, which covers high school sports from across the country. Here is the latest article, and here are some nice tidbits to encourage everyone to read it:

As a precaution, Savage visited the doctor that weekend and received the dismal news he had broken the sesamoid bone in his left foot. He came into school on Monday wearing a protective boot.

At first glance, it appeared Savage’s season was finished. But what happened next exemplified his toughness and team-first attitude, two integral traits that have helped the Rutgers-bound signal-caller become one of the nation’s top recruits. Now a senior, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, who participated in the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp this summer, is rated Pennsylvania’s No. 1 quarterback and the nation’s No. 8 signal-caller in the ESPNU 150.

After the loss to North Penn, Savage was forced to miss the following game against nationally ranked Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), which dominated the Lions, 56-7. But the next week against Bonner, there was Savage racking up 178 passing yards and three touchdown tosses in a 33-8 Lions victory.

“I knew deep down inside that I could seriously hurt it, but I just really wanted to play,” Savage says.

A lot more went into Savage’s remarkable comeback than just suiting up. He wore the boot the entire previous week except for the 20 minutes of practice he was allowed to participate. Come game time, metal plates were placed in his shoe, which was then taped up so he couldn’t bend and injure the foot even more.

After his dramatic comeback performance against Bonner, Savage then passed for 190 yards and two scores against North Catholic. But in the next game against Roman Catholic, Savage’s injury-induced lack of mobility caught up to him. Teams figured out that he couldn’t move and began sending blitzes in waves. One Roman Catholic defender crushed Savage on a blitz and knocked him out of the game with a concussion.

At that point, O’Hara head coach Danny Algeo decided his star quarterback was at serious risk if he continued to play, so he sat him out for the next four weeks. But once again, Savage made sure he’d see the field as he returned in time to guide O’Hara in the PCL Red Division playoffs. He threw a touchdown pass in a first-round win over La Salle, but the Lions bowed out to St. Joe’s Prep in the semifinals, ending a season that had started with such high hopes.

Despite missing five games and playing only the season opener at full health, Savage still copped All-Catholic League honorable mention honors from the Philadelphia Daily News after passing for 809 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for three more scores. He also earned enormous respect from his teammates by playing through pain for the good of the team.

Now that sounds like a leader to me. Is there anybody out there that isn’t waiting for the day this kid arrives on campus? For me, that day can’t come soon enough.

And an extra reminder: you can catch the Cardinal O’Hara vs St. Joes Prep game tonight at 6:00 PM on ESPNU. The Philadelphia Inquirer has a nice preview of the match-up. Savage’s stud junior teammate, Corey Brown, is still out with a torn MCL and will not play for O’Hara.


Kordell Will Play; Will Natale Join Him?

YoungKordell Young is feeling no soreness after playing last week against Cincinnati. Needless to say, that’s a good thing, especially after he saw about 5-7 more carries than expected. Say what you want about the potential of Brooks, but Young is by far our best running back right now. He has the best vision and patience out of all the backs, and he seems to be the only one who hits the hole with any sort of explosiveness. Robinson and Young may have similar speed, but Young is able to at least break a few tackles and carry defenders with him; Robinson seems to get knocked over by a small gust of wind. Brooks is still playing quite hesitantly, as if he is afraid of fumbling the ball (his difficulty holding onto the ball in practice has been well document). He is running straight up and is carrying the rock with both hands, something that is severely limiting his quickness, flexibility, and lateral movement. Until he gains confidence in himself to hold onto the pigskin, he won’t be as effective running the ball as Kordell currently is.

Furthermore, Young is the best back at pass-blocking and picking up blitzes, and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and work in space cannot be matched by the other three tailbacks. He’s our best option, and quite honestly, I’m expecting a bit of a break-out game this week.

And what about a break-out game for Dom Natale? Will the junior actually see some time at quarterback this week? Schiano just adds to the rumors that the Michigan State transfer will play on Saturday. There’s no denying the fact Greg is at least thinking about pulling Teel if he falters.

Also, Scott Vallone is out for the year. It seems like he was rushed back a bit too early from his foot injury. He will get a medical red-shirt. To state the obvious, this isn’t good news, especially considering out opponent this week. Donald Brown is more of a power back and he will pound it up the middle, meaning Tverdov and Silvestro are going to be working quite a bit. If they get tired or injured, we’re now dangerously thin at defensive tackle.


MidKnight Madness Tonight

RutgersDon’t forget to check out the MidKnight Madness event tonight at The Barn. It will run from 10:00-11:00 with doors opening at 9:30, so there’s plenty of time to attend the event and rest up for Saturday’s homecoming game. The first 500 fans to arrive will get a FREE MidKnight Madness t-shirt. This will be the first event for the “RAC PAC” student section to show their support of the men’s basketball team.

August 2018
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