So How Exactly Does UConn Beat Now-Ranked Rutgers This Weekend?
The Connecticut Huskies are traveling to Rutgers to face their first ranked opponent of the season in the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers entered the season unranked, but with an unblemished 4-0 record that includes victories over USF and Arkansas (which may or may not be extremely overrated), it has jumped into the top 25. This is what UConn needs to do if it wants a win over its bitter Big East rival.
Get the Offense Going - The offense did a better job of maintaining balance and efficiency against Buffalo. The Huskies have a tougher test on tap in the Scarlet Knights defense that is 10th in the nation in points allowed. The non-conference slate is for teams to get their game together and work out any kinks before conference play begins. That means it’s time for Lyle McCombs and Chandler Whitmer to prove that the improvement in offensive performance wasn’t just because of the opposition’s weakness.
Get after Gary Nova - Rutgers does a great job protecting its young quarterback Gary Nova, who’s only been sacked twice this season. His ability to stay upright is a big reason why the Scarlet Knights are undefeated heading into this match-up. Fortunately, the Huskies have pass rushers aplenty. Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore need to keep consistent pressure on Nova and force him into mistakes. A few sacks and takeaways at a hostile environment will give a suspect Connecticut offense some good opportunities to steal a win.
Get Nick Williams Return Opportunities – Some of Nick Williams’ most productive games as a return specialist have come against Rutgers. His statistics include a 100-yard kickoff return in 2010, and 158 total return yards last season. A big return day by UConn’s all-time leading return man could tip the scales in favor of the Huskies.
Play with Heart and Passion- The Husky- Scarlet Knight rivalry has grown in recent years, with each game adding to the lore. Recent memorable match-ups include Rutgers’ stunning defeat of the Huskies in 2009 on an 81-yard touchdown catch. This game was the first game the Huskies played since Jasper Howard’s death, and the winning pass was caught by Jazz’s hometown friend Tim Brown. In 2010, another late comeback by the Knights was capped by Connecticut-native Mark Harrison’s touchdown catch to sink the Huskies yet again. However, last season went the Huskies’ way, as an incompetent offensive team blew out Rutgers at the Rent to deny the Scarlet Knights a share of the Big East Crown. This rivalry demands heart and passion, and the Huskies better bring it if they want a shot to take down the Scarlet Knights at home and take the series for a second year in a row.