Sunday, August 16, 2009


It's mid-August and that can only mean two things. 1) Everyone with an internet connection has started predicting possible bowl matchups for the 2009 NCAA Football Season and 2) We are less than one month away from Tony Siragusa's nonsensical sideline rants.
We all know by now that Sports Illustrated has picked Rutgers to win the Big East and has predicted that they will earn a Sugar Bowl berth vs. Ole Miss. The only thing I am willing to predict is that it is too early to predict anything. It does make me wonder though. I think back to that night on December 2, 2006, in Morgantown. No Rutgers team before or since has ever come that close to a BCS berth. How does this year's team compare to that one, and more importantly, can this team be the first ever Rutgers team to play football on New Year's Day? Let's take a look, position by position.



2006 - Statistics don't lie. Mike Teel is the best quarterback in the history of the program. He showed signs of greatness at times - we all want to remember him as the quarteback that tied a Big East record tossing 7 touchdown passes vs. Louisville last year. But there were plenty of times that he looked more like Garo Yepremian than Johnny Unitas - think of his first start, at Syracuse in 2005 (3 interceptions in a winning effort) or the drubbing he took at Louisville later that year. The 2006 Mike Teel was not the same Mike Teel that broke all of the school records. He managed the game, and played well enough not to lose.

2009 - The only thing that we know about the 2009 quarterback battle so far is that Steve Shimko will probably not see any significant action. Wherever the Natale, Lovelace, Jefferson, Savage merry-go-round lands, one thing is certain - none of them have any experience.

Slight Advantage - 2006 Team


2006 - Ray Rice. Enough said.

2009 - Joe Martinek is creating some separation between himself and Jourdan Brooks. Both are tremendous runners. The injury-plagued Kordell Young could also be in the mix, if he ever gets healthy. True freshman De'Antwan Williams will also be given a look, but it's too big of hill for an 18 year old to climb. The safe money is on Martinek, with Brooks occasionally spelling him.

Advantage - 2006 Team, of course, but these guys can run.


2006 - If any one person, other than Greg Schiano, can be credited with turning this program around, it's Brian Leonard. Whether he carried the ball, or paved the way for Rice, he was the lynch pin of the offense. Not only did he produce, but he was a leader on and off the field. He was the ultimate teamate.

2009 - It's unfair for anyone to expect Jack Corcoran to be the next Brian Leonard. Those shoes are too big to fill. Corcoran has proven to be a capable receiver out of the backfield and certainly has done well picking up blitzers that get through the line.

Advantage - 2006 Team

Wide Receiver

2006 - By the end of the year Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood were the top two receivers. Both of those guys will be playing on Sundays this fall.

2009 - Tim Brown is the top receiver this year with true freshman Mohammed Sanu right behind him. Sanu has shown signs of greatness in the first five days of camp. If you think he's a good reciever, you should see him return punts. This kid is talented and will help the team immediately.

Advanatge - 2006 Team, it's too early to tell what Sanu will bring and Brown has been too inconsistent throughout his career.

Tight End

2006 - Clark Harris followed in the footsteps of Marco Battaglia and LJ Smith, writing his own chapter in the legacy of Rutgers tight ends.

2009 - Shamar Graves has had some great moments, but has also been very sloppy at times. I have not been impressed with the incoming freshamn class, led by Malcolm Bush, through the first five practices.

Advantage - 2006 Team

Offensive Line

2006 - Sosa, Zuttah, Fladell, Stephenson, Stapleton. That looks more like a Who's Who list of NFL rosters, and even includes one Super Bowl ring.

2009 - Davis (now that he made weight), Haslam, Forst, Ruch, Blasczyk. This could be one of the Top 5 offensive lines in the country. This unit was solely responsible for the 1-5 start last year, as well as the fantastic finish. When they finally geled, the team rode their backs to seven straight victories. And all 5 are coming back this year.

Advantage - 2009 Team, though the '06 team is riddled with NFL players, they did not have the continuity or solidarity of this year's line.


Defensive Line

2006 - Eric Foster was not only the leader of his unit, he also took on the unofficial title of team cheerleader. The rest of the team fed off of him. Foster, Ramel Meekins, Jaamal Westerman and William "Papa" Beckford were a four man wrecking crew.

2009 - George Johnson, Alex Silvestro and Jonhathan Freeny have cemeted their place on the line. This group is deep as well. Eric LeGrand, a healthy Charlie Noonan, Blair Bines and true freshman Andre Civil should also compete for playing time. Frehman Scott Vallone and junior Sorie Bayoh are further down the the depth chart, although Bayoh will probably see some time on special teams.

Advantage - 2009 Team, it's much deeper than the 2006 team.


2006 - The linebacking corps was anchored by Devraun Thompson, whose 4th and Goal stop at North Carolina set the tone for the rest of the season. His supporting cast included Quintero Frierson, Kevin Malast and Brandon Renkart, among others.

2009 - Ryan D'Imperio and Damaso Munoz have locked up starting jobs. Manny Abreu and Antonio Lowry have not yet lived up to their potential.

Advantage - 2006 Team. Although the 2009 team is more talented, they are too inconsistent.

Defensive Backs

2006 - Girault, Greene, and Collins were solid all year. Derek Roberson, Glen Lee and Jason McCourty also saw action.

2009 - Zaire Kitchen and Joe LeFeged are the safeties. Devin McCourty is firmly entrenched at one corner. Brandon Bing, Khaseem Greene and highly-touted newcomer Darrel Givens will compete for the other.

Advanatge - 2009 Team, as long as LeFeged still keeps hitting hard and Givens lives up to his billing.

You don't have to be Albert Einstein to see that the 2006 team fared better in most categories than the 2009 team, but there is still one more category that has not yet been discussed - the favorable Big East Schedule. The 2009 team has defending champs Cincinnati at home, along with Pitt, South Florida and West Virginia. Conference road trips include Louisville, Connecticut and Syracuse. If the quarterback, whoever that may be, is capable enough not to lose, the Knights may just celebrate the New Year in style.


True Blue Liberal said...

A small point of French language: Déjà vu means "already been seen" and is the common term I think you're looking for in your heading (Déjà vous would mean "already you", which is sort of meaningless). We Rutgers blogs need to keep our grammar (even if foreign) above reproach (I'm also known as , you can NEVER have too many Rutgers football blogs!)

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