Rutgers at Army 10-23-09

October 23, 2009


Rutgers (4-2) at Army (3-4)

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 23rd, 8:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Michie Stadium (39,929) — West Point, New York. Television:ESPN2. Home Record: Rutgers 3-2, Army 2-2. Away Record: Rutgers 1-0, Army 1-2. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, Army 0-0. Conference Record: Rutgers 0-2, Army 0-0. Series Record: Army leads, 18-17.

GAME NOTES: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights wrap up their non-conference slate this weekend, as they head to West Point to take on the Army Black Knights at Michie Stadium.

The Scarlet Knights have had all of their success against non-league opponents, going 4-0 compared to 0-2 versus Big East foes. This past Friday, Rutgers was in conference action against Pittsburgh, which captured a 24-17 in the Knights’ own backyard. The loss brought an end to the team’s four-game win streak, and Rutgers now heads to the road, where it defeated Maryland (34-13) in its lone game away from home.

As for Army, it snapped a two-game slide with a shocking 16-13 overtime triumph over SEC member Vanderbilt on October 10th. The team, unfortunately, wasn’t able to build off that upset and instead fell 27-13 at Temple this past weekend. The loss dropped the Black Knights to 3-4 overall, although the club has posted two of those wins at home.

Army is clinging to an 18-17 edge in the all-time series with Rutgers, which has won the past five meetings.

Rutgers’ offense struggled last week versus Pitt, as the unit managed only 286 total yards, including a dismal 38 on the ground. The Scarlet Knights are by no means an explosive offense, averaging a modest 351.2 total ypg, but they have the talent to performer much better than they did versus Pitt. Quarterback Tom Savage wasn’t all that bad in the defeat, as he completed 23- of-39 pass attempts for 248 yards and a touchdown. It was the first career Big East start for the true freshman, who has thrown for 941 yards, with five touchdowns against just one interception on the season. Tim Brown is clearly his go-to-guy, as he paces the Scarlet Knights with 28 catches, 548 receiving yards and three scores. Against Pitt, Brown was a factor for Rutgers and he made seven catches that went for 96 yards and a score. In the backfield, Joe Martinek heads Rutgers with 434 yards and five scores, but he was limited to just 23 yards and on nine carries last week.

The Scarlet Knights have one of the more talented defenses around, but the unit had their issues last week against Pitt, allowing 376 total yards. The real shocker was that Pitt was able to run for 223 yards against a defense that was allowing under 66 ypg on the ground heading into the bout. The Scarlet Knights did come up with a pair of turnovers as well as two sacks, so their were some positives to take from the team’s performance. Zaire Kitchen and Antonio Lowery each had 12 tackles in the losing cause and they have combined for 67 stops on the year.

Despite gaining 181 yards on the ground, the Black Knights were unable to put enough points on the board to win, as the team committed 14 penalties and went just 1-of-11 on third downs in failing to move the ball consistently. Army’s option attack is gaining an above average 222.6 ypg on the season, but the ground game hasn’t helped on third downs, as the team is converting just 30 percent of the time. Quarterback Trent Steelman heads a list that includes three 300-yard rushers, as he paces Army with 407 yards and three scores. In last weekend’s game, Steelman was limited to just 67 yards on 19 carries, but he did have one of his best passing games, going a perfect 5-of-5 for 56 yards and his second touchdown of the campaign. Ali Villanueva was the recipient of the touchdown and he has caught all four of the team’s passing scores.

Army has been surprisingly good on the defensive side of the ball this season and is limiting foes to 285.9 total ypg. The unit has also generated 14 turnovers and that includes nine interceptions. Against Temple, the Black Knights turned in a sound defensive effort, holding the Owls to a measly 195 yards, including just 80 on the ground. Army also came up with five sacks, pushing its total for the season to 17 in that category. Josh McNary was outstanding in the loss and he accounted for four of the team’s sacks. He now has 9.5 sacks, to go with 15.5 TFLs and 40 stops, displaying terrific tackling and pass rushing skills along the way.

Rutgers is simply the bigger and more athletic team and although Army won’t go without a fight, the Scarlet Knights’ speed and talent will make the difference in this one.

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