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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer

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So Rutgers is finally moving on up - but will it take the next step, or only have a harder fall back into the cellar?

PAST FIVE SEASONS: 19-39 (7-27 Big East) / 2005: 7-5 (4-3 Big East), Lost Insight Bowl
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 14 (7 Offense, 7 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: Wow, expectations! Encore, Greg Schiano, encore! Really, do it again...or else...
WHAT'S THE SAME: Schiano, suddenly sitting pretty with a huge chunk of the offensive production from last year back - even without last year's top passer and receiver, the offense still returns 159 catches and more than 2,000 yards from last season. Ultra-productive (3,926 career yards from scrimmage, 40 touchdowns) fullback Brian Leonard returns for Year Eight along with sophomore Ray Rice, improbably emerging as the team's top back as a freshman.
Along with all that, though, this: none of those numbers got the Knights past a winning team. That, at least, hasn't changed yet.
THE YOUNG AND THE INACCURATE: Mike Teel played in nine games but was 1-2 as a starter with a horrible ten picks to just two touchdowns. His appearance against Louisville, especially - 12-24, 91 yards, two interceptions, and a season-low, by far, five points - ensured it was the only game the Knights were truly blown out of last year. And now he's the guy.
FINALLY, OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE HAS COME TO AN END: Leonard and Rice may not quite be "one of America's most talented backfields," but Rice was the first 1,000-yard rusher the Knights produced in more than a decade, since Terrell Willis in 1994, which must be one of the longest such streaks in the nation. Whether that will continue - without Ryan Hart to keep the focus on the pass, without the best lineman, John Glass - could have a lot to do with whether Rutgers winds up back in another bowl.
INSESRT 'EXCELLENT PENETRATION' JOKE HERE: The defense was middle-of-the-pack - though bad to mediocre is an improvement - yet sensational at getting into the backfield (top five nationally in sacks and tackles for loss). Problem is, 20 of those sacks are gone with ends Ryan Neill and Val Barnaby, who along with departed tackle Luis Rivas made up the best Rutgers line, on either side of the ball, in recent memory. Ramel Meekins was solid inside but will be surrounded by mostly newbies.
REASON(S) FOR HOPE: Overall, an experienced team with a lot of production back that may have legitimately turned a corner into respectability.
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: New starters with one-to-five touchdown-to-interception rates are not ideal for a team that still relies on consistency in lieu of explosive big play threats.
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... Lech Walesa's "Solidarnosc," only a few months after it was considered unthinkable, suddenly swept into power in the midst of a crumbling superpower's demise following years of withering under its despotic rule, now wondering: has too much grain ripened for them?
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: 6-5. The pivotal year for Schiano, whose program's immediate future rests, with the talent returning, on proving it's turned itself around, and isn't a perennial doormat with one aberration.

Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal

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9:58 PM

fyi, permalink on USC is bad... has a space - "pr emature" - which is messing up the URL.

"Random! Premature!" says the NYT.
Have you guys already done an absurdly premature assessment of Dorrell's troops? If you have it'd be great if you share a link or even better yet feel free post a diary at BruinsNation excerpting parts of it.

We are anxious to see what the SMQ thinks of KD and the UCLA football program.
This is completely magnificent. Keep it up. That is an order.
good stuff, but the team has 12 games, so 7-5 sounds around the area RU is expected to finish
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