Rutgers remains perfect with win over Ohio U.


Staff Writer

JIM O'CONNOR/NJ SPORT PICS Sophomore Ray Rice continues to emerge as one of the top running backs in the nation, and is the catalyst to a Scarlet Knight offense that is scoring in bunches this season.JIM O’CONNOR/NJ SPORT PICS Sophomore Ray Rice continues to emerge as one of the top running backs in the nation, and is the catalyst to a Scarlet Knight offense that is scoring in bunches this season. When Greg Schiano was quoted at the end of last season saying that he had a plan, and that his football program at Rutgers was right where he expected it to be, some people laughed.

Well, no one is laughing at him now, but rather with him, as his team has looked very impressive these first three weeks of the season.

At a perfect 3-0, the Rutgers University football team is off to its best start since 1981. A crowd of 41,102 witnessed the Scarlet Knights blow past Ohio (2-1) Saturday, 24-7, after falling behind 7-0 early on.

One of the reasons Rutgers has performed so well on offense so far this year has been the great play of sophomore running back Ray Rice. Rice amassed another 190 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns in the win against Ohio. Rice has gained a total of 509 yards in three games on just 83 carries, compiling just over 6 yards per carry. Rice’s two touchdowns on Saturday give him six touchdowns on the young season.

“I think the way he’s been able to perform is a positive response to how big of a role he plays offensively,” Schiano said.

After the Ohio game, Rice was concentrating on the team victory, rather than his own personal achievements.

“Overall, I felt we played well today,” Rice said. “Ohio was a very tough team physically. They kept pushing us and fighting us. I give them a lot of credit. Even after the mistakes we made on offense, we just moved on and kept playing. We are all playing like a team, and I feel we have a very strong chemistry here.”

It is the offense line, along with Rice’s partner in the backfield, senior Brian Leonard, that has led to much of the success of Rutgers’ rushing attack. Leonard and his unselfish play has led to many of the big gaps Rice has been able to plow through. Leonard has no problem sacrificing his body to give his teammate that little hole that sends Rice flying. Leonard’s attitude has seemed to spread to the rest of the Rutgers’ offense line, and they all seem ready to do what they can to create a hole.

Leonard believes it is hard work in practice that has led to game-time success on the field.

“We have a good team here, and we’re only getting better. We prepare so hard each and every week,” said Leonard.

Along with making some great blocks against Ohio, Leonard also had four carries for 19 yards and four catches for 64 yards. He also was able to perform his patented “leap over the defender” move.

The only chink in the armor for Rutgers at this point has been the inconsistent play of quarterback Mike Teel Jr. Although he is only in his first full season as Rutgers quarterback, he seemed to take a step back last week. Teel completed only six of 16 passes for a total of 83 yards against Ohio. This was a far cry from the first two games, where he completed a total of 28 of 44 passes for 290 yards.

But still, Teel did not seem too discouraged about his play Saturday, and made it a point of saying he will try to work this week to figure out how to cut down on his mental mistakes.

“It was good to get the win today. I did have some mental mistakes and felt I had a bad day,” he said. “But I plan to watch the game film this week and learn from my mistakes. I will take that and learn from it, in preparation for next week’s game.”

Schiano seemed confident his quarterback will bounce back.

“Mike didn’t have his best game, but as a whole, the offense couldn’t find a rhythm. We thought about putting Jabu Lovelace into the game and get him some playing time, but, because of where Mike is in his development I wanted him to play through,” the coach said. “After the interception, we could have put Jabu in, but Mike needs to be able to make changes and play through those situations.”

Much like the past two games, Rutgers did not win this game solely on its offensive play. The defensive and special team units played exceptionally well Saturday, as they have done all season so far.

“Today, our defense was in some tough spots,” Schiano said. “I’m really enjoying what I’m seeing in them. Even when they went out on the field in a bad spot, they have this look in their eyes when we send them out there. They’re just ready to go out and do what they have to do.”

Junior Ron Girault had an interception runback for 39 yards, which paved the way for Rutgers’ first score of the day – a Shawn Tucker touchdown catch from Teel. Girault also blocked a field goal later on in the game, showing how versatile a player he truly is.

Junior James Townsend blocked a punt attempt, which was later recovered in the end zone by freshman Kordell Young, leading to a Rutgers field goal. Quintero Frierson sacked Ohio quarterback Austen Everson on the goal line, while also jarring the ball loose and allowing Brandon Renkhart to jump on it and score a touchdown.

Sophomore Courtney Greene made a great leaping interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter, which sealed the deal.

Frierson and Greene each had eight total tackles to lead Rutgers.

Senior Devraun Thompson added seven stops, but more impressively, he was able to shove the Ohio lineman sparring against him and get to the quarterback twice, resulting in two sacks.

Rutgers next plays home against Howard on Saturday at 2 p.m.