As Big East teams begin practicing again, I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. We continue with ...
Start date: Today.
Predicted finish at media days: Third.
Biggest storyline: How does coach Kyle Flood do in his first year as a head coach? There is no question Rutgers has the talent this year to win a Big East title, so you understand why Flood and his players are saying the time is now to win championships. The defense should be dominating, starting with co-Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene. There are supremely talented players on offense who now have the opportunity to live up to their potential. There also has been a dramatic shift up at the top, with Rutgers going from control-freak Greg Schiano and his 11 years as the head coach, to a man who has never been a head coach on the collegiate level. The good news is that Flood has learned from Schiano, and many other terrific head coaches he has worked under (some are on his current staff). He has kept the offensive and defensive schemes the same. The biggest change is in personalities at the top. So now we wait and see how he does, and how Rutgers responds.
Biggest question marks: Quarterback is the biggest one, with Chas Dodd and Gary Nova competing for the starting job. Flood hopes to make a decision seven to 10 days before the opener, at the very latest. Flood also is the first to tell you the biggest questions he still has in his mind are on the offensive and defensive lines, particularly at guard and end. The line shifted around a little bit in the spring, and Flood changed his depth chart after practice ended. Flood does have several players capable of playing guard, from Antwan Lowery, Andre Civil, David Osei, Taj Alexander and Betim Bujari. Flood said, "I would hope that no later than the second week in training camp, we’ll know who the five guys are. For us to continue to get better on the offensive line -- we made some strides last year -- but we need continuity. Having the ability to play next to the same guy all the time. We’ve had that in the past, then we lost it, but we still have a long way to go." At end, Rutgers wants to see how highly touted true freshman Darius Hamilton fits in. The Scarlet Knights also have Michael Larrow, Marcus Thompson, Ka'Lial Glaud and Marvin Booker competing for spots at end.
Who needs to step up: Mark Harrison. Everybody is looking at the 6-foot-3, 230 pound Harrison to step into the big shoes Mohamed Sanu leaves behind. Harrison has shown flashes of greatness, but he has yet to play consistently. Rutgers really needs him to do that this year to help the receiving group make big plays.