EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the first of eight team previews leading up to the 2011 football season. The previews will be released in reverse order of the preseason poll.
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RUTGERS' 2011 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Rutgers saw its streaks of five consecutive bowl appearances and four straight bowl wins snapped last season.
The Scarlet Knights have a combined 17 starters returning from last year’s team.
Rutgers started last season with four wins in its first six games, but dropped its last six to close the year.
The Scarlet Knights held each of their first five opponents to 24 points or fewer, but held just one of their last six opponents below 24 points.
New Scarlet Knight offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti — formerly the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh — finds 10 returning starters in the fold for 2011.
QB Chas Dodd made eight starts as a true freshman last year and had two 300-yard games as a rookie.
Jeremy Deering, who was the Scarlet Knights’ second-leading rusher last year as a wildcat receiver, moves to running back for the 2011 season.
WR Mark Harrison was third in the BIG EAST in receiving yards (69.1 ypg) and had nine touchdown catches in 2009 (the most among returning players in the league). He joins WR Mohamed Sanu to produce one of the more dangerous receiving tandems in the BIG EAST.
The offensive line is expected to improve in 2011 with the development of four returning starters.
Five starters return from last year’s defense. The Scarlet Knights return just one starting defensive lineman from last season (DT Scott Vallone).
DE Manny Abreu (48 tackles last season) moves to the line in 2011 after spending last year at strong-side linebacker.
Third-year starting LB Steve Beauharnais is the top returning tackler from 2010 (79).
FS David Rowe, who moved to safety this spring after playing cornerback in his first two years, is a third-year starter who lends experience to an otherwise young defensive backfield.
Rutgers’ special teams units blocked nine kicks last season and have 15 blocks in the last two seasons.
K San San Te returns for his third year as the Scarlet Knights’ placekicker. Te ranked ninth in the BIG EAST in scoring last year (5.7 ppg).