Freshman Quarterbacks Will Lead Rutgers & Louisville Friday Night


Two Games Friday as WVU (5-1, 1-0)  visits Syracuse (4-2, 0-1) on ESPN while Rutgers (5-1, 2-0) plays at Louisville (2-4, 0-1) on ESPN2. 

 Rutgers coach Greg Schiano says he’ll stay with freshman quarterback Gary Nova Friday night as the Scarlet Knights play at Louisville.    It will be Nova’s third consecutive start.

Nova finished 23-31 for 271 yards and two touchdowns as Rutgers edged Navy 21-20 last week.  Nova also threw two interceptions including one with under 7:00 to play that gave Navy the ball at the Rutgers 23.   But about two minutes later, Rutgers cornerback Brandon Jones blocked a potential go-ahead field goal from 34-yards out with less than 5:00 to play.   With that game saving play, Jones was named Big East Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.  

The Rutgers offense had one of its more balanced games of the season.  The total of 423 yards was the most gained so far by Rutgers.   Nova threw for 271 yards and the Scarlet Knights rushed for 152.    Freshman Jawan Jamison was the first Rutgers player to rush for 100+ yards this year as he finished with 101 yards.   Mohamed Sanu had another very good game with 10 catches for 100 yards.  Sanu leads the league with 55 catches. 

Schiano continues to shuffle his offensive line as senior Art Forst started at right guard.  Forst, who has the most starts of any current Rutgers offensive lineman with 33, was relegated to backup duty early in the season. 

The match up Friday night with Louisville will be the 11th all time between the two teams.    Rutgers leads 7-3 in the series, but the teams have split the last six games. 

Rutgers is 2-0 in Big East play for just the second time.  The other 2-0 start came in 2006.  The Knights, picked to finish last in the pre-season poll, already have surpassed last year’s conference win total. 

Louisville is has lost three in a row including a 25-16 setback at Cincinnati last week in the conference opener for both teams.  

"We played hard but we didn’t play smart," lamented Louisville coach Charlie Strong.   "We have to work on eliminating those penalties, the turnovers and the third down mistakes." 

Louisville managed just 61 total yards in the second half of the game.  The second half stall was nothing new for the Cardinals, a team averaging just 18 yards rushing per game during the second half of contests. 

"Rutgers has a lot of confidence and we are lacking that confidence right now," Strong said.  

Rutgers continues to lead the nation in turnovers gained with 24 in six games.   The Scarlet Knights are also second in the nation with 24 sacks.   That will certainly be a tough assignment for Louisville’s freshman starter at quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. 


South Florida (4-2, 0-2) Takes a Two Game Losing Streak into Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0)

The only other Big East game this week occurs at Raymond James Stadium as South Florida hosts Cincinnati.   The Bulls have lost two in a row  Cincinnati comes in on a four game winning streak.  

South Florida’s offense has fired blanks of late despite impressive numbers overall.   Overall, the USF offense is ranked second in the league only to the Mountaineers with an average of 476 yards per game.   But the Bulls have scored just three offensive touchdowns in back to back losses to Pitt and UConn.  

South Florida out gained UConn by 86 yards last week, but finished -2 in turnover margin which was the difference.   South Florida is also one of the most penalized teams in the Big east with 44 penalties through six games and an average of 60 penalty yards per game.    

"So many of our problems are self-inflicted," lamented South Florida coach Skip Holtz.   "When we can stop turning the ball over and eliminate some of the penalty yards, we’ll continue to get better.   We have to continue to work hard to eliminate some of the things that have prohibited us from winning the last two weeks." 

Cincinnati went 4-8 last year in the first year under coach Butch Jones.   This season, the Bearcats have raced off to a 5-1 start as they ranked in the top 20 in the country in most defensive categories .   Cincinnati has held its last three opponents to a combined 41 yards rushing and the Bearcats have outscored their last three opponents 59-7 in the second half. 

"The formula for winning never changes," Jones said.   "It’s scoring touchdowns in the red zone.  It’s making critical plays when you need to make them.   And it’s taking the ball away on defense."

Cincinnati has forced 19 turnovers and it is second to Rutgers in the country in turnover margin. 

Cincinnati has won the last two games of this series played in Tampa.   And the road team has won two in a row in the series as the Bulls snapped a four game overall losing streak to the Bearcats with a 38-30 win at Nippert Stadium last year. 


 Pitt, UConn Get Bye Weeks

Pitt has lost two in a row and four of five as it sits at 3-4.

"We’ve been very close to breaking through," Pitt coach Todd Graham said.   "It just hasn’t happened yet.  But we’ve got five conference games left and our guys are very focused.  I hear the guys picking each other up and the message has been let’s not finish the race but let’s go win a championship."

The Pitt passing game continues to struggle despite the presence of one of the nation’s leading rushers in Ray Graham.  Graham has averaged 134 yards per game which leads the Big East and is third in the country.   But Pitt is last in the conference and 96th in the country in passing offense with just 184 yards per game. 

Pitt’s receiving corps did not catch a pass during last week’s 26-14 loss to Utah.  Pitt had just 50 yards passing.   Pitt quarterbacks have thrown two interceptions for touchdowns with no touchdown passes in the last two games, losses to Utah and Rutgers.   Trey Anderson replaced starter Tino Sunseri in each of the last two games.   Todd Graham says he’ll continue to stick with Sunseri as the starter next Wednesday when Pitt plays again at home against Connecticut.  

"We have had very inconsistent play at that position," admitted Graham.   "We have not performed the way we need to at that position, but Tino, by far, has the biggest grasp of what we are doing offensively.  We have to get it out of him. 

"Switching the quarterbacks in and out has created more distraction that it has positives,"  Graham continued.  " I think (the switching) really hurt us in our last game.    Our focus is to get it out of Tino." 

Graham says with just one league loss at this point, the goals are still out there to achieve. 

"The bottom line is that we have to win out," Graham said.  "We have to go 5-0 and if we do we can still win a conference championship." 


Connecticut freshman Byron Jones was named BIg East Defensive player of the week following UConn’s suprising win over South Florida last week.   UConn won that game despite getting an offensive touchdown.  Jones returned a fumble 10 yards for a score.  Jones also had seven tackles as part of a defensive effort that forced four turnovers and held South Florida to just 339 yards.    

Connecticut and Pitt will play one week from Wednesday.  


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