RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
North Carolina Central Eagles
High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454/FieldTurf)
Thursday, September 1 • 7:30 p.m. • ESPN3.com
ESPN3.com — Dave Popkin and Rob Harley
WOR-AM 710 (flagship)
Thursday’s game will be the first meeting between Rutgers and North Carolina Central … Rutgers has won its last seven games against opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision, outscoring its opponents by a combined 311-20 margin.
Greg Schiano (Bucknell ’88)
59-63, 11th season
Rutgers looks to 17 returning starters to help the Scarlet Knights return to the postseason after the team saw a five-year streak of bowl appearances end with last season’s 4-8 record … The Scarlet Knights won four of their first six games last season, but closed the year with a six-game losing streak … Head coach Greg Schiano, who enters his 11th year in 2011, is the longest-tenured BIG EAST head coach and the ninth-longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision … Rutgers hired former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti to run the Scarlet Knight offense … The offense returns 10 starters from last year, including QB Chas Dodd, who made eight starts as a true freshman and threw for 1,637 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Mark Harrison was the leading receiver with 44 catches for 829 yards and nine touchdowns … WR Mohamed Sanu is a versatile player who had 44 receptions for 418 yards and two TDs to go with four rushing touchdowns … The top returning rusher is RB Jordan Thomas, who had 417 yards and a touchdown, though RB Jeremy Deering — who was a wideout last year — and freshman RB Savon Huggins could challenge for a starting spot … The defense is led by LB Steve Beauharnais, who had 79 tackles, six tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries last season … DT Scott Vallone is the lone returning starter on the defensive line, but is a solid All-BIG EAST candidate … K San San Te returns for his third year as the Scarlet Knights’ placekicker … Rutgers’ special teams units blocked nine kicks last season and have 15 blocks in the last two seasons.
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (0-0)
Henry Frazier III (Bowie State ’93)
0-0, first season at North Carolina Central
69-54, 13th season as collegiate head coach
North Carolina Central turned to veteran head coach Henry Frazier to turn around a program that went 3-8 last season … The Eagles compete as an independent in the Football Championship Subdivision … Frazier was the 2009 Eddie Robinson National FCS Coach of the Year after taking Prairie View A&M to a 9-1 season and a SWAC championship … Frazier went 32-9 in his last four years at Prairie View A&M … The Eagles return 13 starters from last season, including eight on offense … North Carolina Central features a spread offense and operates from a 4-2-5 base defense … QB Michael Johnson threw for 1,179 yards and six touchdowns last season … WR Geovonie Irvine had 53 catches for 758 yards and five TDs … LB Roger Stewart finished 2010 with 50 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.