BIGEAST.org will be previewing all eight BIG EAST teams leading up to the start of the season. Team previews will be released in inverse order of the preseason media poll - today's preview will be of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who were picked third.
Kyle Flood, who had served as Rutgers’ offensive line coach, was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano stepped down to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rutgers was picked eighth in last year’s BIG EAST media poll, but had a chance to win the conference title in its last regular-season game and returned to postseason play for the sixth time in seven years. The Scarlet Knights beat Iowa State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
The Scarlet Knights return 15 starters from last year’s team — the most of any BIG EAST squad.
Rutgers relied on two quarterbacks regularly last year. QB Chas Dodd made eight starts, while QB Gary Nova started five games as a true freshman.
Rutgers returns its top three rushers from last season, including RB Jawan Jamison, who went for 897 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Scarlet Knights will have to replace WR Mohamed Sanu, who shattered the BIG EAST single-season record with 115 catches last year. WR Brandon Coleman averaged 32.5 yards per catch last year and leads a deep group of returning players at wideout.
The offensive line returns just two starters, but TE D.C. Jefferson is one of the nation’s top blocking tight ends.
Rutgers has eight starters back, including three All-BIG EAST picks, from last year’s defense, which ranked 13th nationally in yards allowed (314.4 ypg) and 12th in scoring (18.8 ppg).
LB Khaseem Greene became the first Rutgers player to be named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Greene, who led the BIG EAST with 141 tackles last year, looks to bounce back from an ankle injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
S Duron Harmon joined Greene on the All-BIG EAST First Team. Harmon was second in the conference with five interceptions last year.
CB Logan Ryan, an All-BIG EAST Second Team pick last year, led the conference with 16 passes defended.
Rutgers’ special teams units blocked nine kicks last season and have 24 blocks in the last three seasons. The Scarlet Knight had just one of their own kicks blocked last year.
P Justin Doerner earned All-BIG EAST Second Team accolades last year after he averaged 40.3 yards per punt.