Friday, October 1, 2010
Savage, Martinek should play vs. Tulane
By Kieran Darcy
Rutgers starting quarterback Tom Savage and starting runnning back Joe Martinek were both listed as probable on the Big East's official injury report on Friday, so both should be in the lineup when the Scarlet Knights take on the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday afternoon.
The game is at 2 p.m., and can be viewed exclusively on ESPN3. ESPNNewYork.com will also cover the game, with a live blog during the game and a postgame story afterwards.
Rutgers will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 17-13 loss to North Carolina last Saturday. The Scarlet Knights had a great chance to go 3-0 on the season, but the offense wasn't up to the task, as Savage threw two critical interceptions in the UNC red zone.
Savage also suffered bruised ribs against the Tar Heels, but only missed one series in the game. And he has maintained all week that he would be able to play on Saturday.
The question is, how effective will he be? After an impressive freshman season, Savage has had a rough start to his sophomore year -- he has completed barely more than 50 percent of his passes, with just one touchdown and three interceptions.
"It's frustrating when you know you can do it. It's frustrating when you've made the throws before. It's frustrating when you know the guys are open," Savage said after the North Carolina game. "I know my talent and I know I can make the throws and that's it. And I will."
Martinek, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury in the second game of the season, versus Florida International. He did play against North Carolina, but in a limited role, with just five carries for 30 yards.
"I thought Joe ran hard," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said earlier this week. "I know he is not 100 percent, but he is a gutsy guy."
Rutgers used its wildcat package extensively against North Carolina, with wideout Mohamed Sanu under center. It wasn't particularly effective last week, but don't be surprised if it is a major part of Rutgers' game plan again this week -- especially considering Savage isn't 100 percent.
Tulane comes in at 1-2 on the season, with a 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana, followed by a 27-13 loss to Ole Miss and a 42-23 loss at Houston. The Green Wave's starting quarterback, Ryan Griffin, is also banged up -- he suffered a sprained shoulder last week, but is expected to start on Saturday as well.
On defense, Tulane plays very agressive. "They blitz. They even blitz maybe a little more this year than they have [in the past]," Schiano said. "They are going to come after us. In the run game and the pass game, they bring people. It is going to be very important, up front, we do a better job of staying on our blocks."
Rutgers' defense, as opposed to its offense, is off to an excellent start this season. The Scarlet Knights are No. 2 in the country in points allowed per game, at 10.3 -- only top-ranked Alabama is better (9.8). The Scarlet Knights are also giving up only 12.3 first downs per game, which places them fourth in the country, behind only West Virginia, Iowa and Ohio State. And they've given up only one rushing touchdown on the year.
Special teams has been a strong point as well. The Scarlet Knights have blocked four punts, and are No. 2 in the country in return yards allowed per kickoff (14.1) -- only BYU is better (10.3).
So the pressure lies squarely on the Rutgers offense, along with Schiano -- this Saturday, and for the remainder of the season. Can they get it figured out?
The time to do so is now -- Big East play begins a week from today, when the Scarlet Knights host UConn.