Sunday, October 25, 2009

12 Hours Later (+ Another 12 Hours-) Rutgers Wins; Pitt, Bearcats Dominate; WVU Edges UCONN In A Heartbreaker

This entry is part of ongoing series following Rutgers football in the 2009 season.

So....Friday night I was watching a new episode of MONK. Adrian Monk, a detective suffering from OCD and various phobias, is cleaning his home, when his new "self cleaning" vacuum cleaner spits a cloud of dust in his face. He opens his eyes, and standing before him is his former nurse Sharona Flemming, whom he hasn't seen in five years.

Then a puzzled Adrian asks Sharona, "What year is it?". I know that feeling myself.

"What year is it?" was a question I was asking myself on Friday night while watching the Rutgers- Army game early in the second half. Rutgers lead was cut to one touchdown, 17-10 after Army scored on a quick series. RU struggled running the ball early in the game and I kept thinking that this version of Rutgers resembled the 2004 edition that went 4-7 much more than the program that has gone to four straight bowl games and won three in a row.

After thinking about the 27-10 Rutgers win for more than 24 hours, I'll compare this win to the formula at Maryland a few weeks ago- big plays on defense that disguised an offense that sputtered for long stretches, turnovers that led to Rutgers points, and Joe Martinek running the ball down the throats of a worn out defense in the fourth quarter.....all done in sloppy wet game conditions.

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. It wasn't the domination we have seen by Rutgers over Army the past few years, like Ray Rice running wild for 240 yards back in '07 (a game played in rain, sleet, snow, wind, and 35 degree temperatures- froze me little butt off that night). But they got the job done, and that's what matters.

The Rutgers defense held Army to 213 total yards, 197 on the ground. Army completed only 2 of 9 passes for 16 yards. An option offense cannot turn the ball over- Army lost three critical fumbles, and had a punt blocked, recovered, and scored on by RU freshman Steve Beauharnais. Army ran the ball at a 4.9 yards per carry clip, only to watch too many drives end in turnovers and subsequent short field Rutgers points.

Tom Savage was an efficient 10 for 20 for 164 yards, no TD's, no INT's, and Tim Brown had four catches for 101 yards...but it is alarming how ineffective Rutgers running game is during early stages of games. Martinek had 139 yards on 24 carries for 2 TD's and a 5.6 per carry average, and Jourdan Brooks had four carries for 30 yards...but as said, most of the damage came in the late stages of the game.

I'm a fan of RU coach Greg Schiano, but I have to ask....what were you thinking on that fake punt early in the third quarter when punter Teddy Dellaganna threw an incomplete pass just inside Army territory, turning the ball over at midfield and setting up Army's lone touchdown?

And these other gadget plays, the "wildcat" variation isn't fooling too many people. Other than Jabu Lovelace's pass, where he threw for a first down when everyone thought there would be a run, there's just too much gimmickry and not enough good north/south running and effective run blocking.

RU is 5-2, but now its back to Big East play, where they are 0-2. Next up they play the UCONN Huskies, who yesterday played the most inspiring game of any Big East team in 2009, if not of any football team in the country.

West Virginia 28- UCONN 24

To me, this was the most memorable football game played this season by any two teams in any conference. It was the first game played by UCONN since the death of starting cornerback Jasper Howard last Sunday, who died in a teammates arms after being stabbed outside of a sanctioned university dance on campus.

It was an amazing game with seven lead changes, a stellar performance by WVU's RB Noel Devine ( 178 yards. 1 TD) and UCONN's receiver Marcus Easley (157 yards, 1TD).

But this game was more than about heroics on the field. It was about Jazz, and how he was honored by those love the game he loved.

Jazz Howard's #6 jersey was on the UCONN sidelines at Morgantown yesterday, and his number six could be seen in the stands, not just by those wearing UCONN blue, but Mountaineer blue and gold. West Virginia fans get an unfair rap for being inhospitable to visiting fans and teams (though I've been to games there and have never experienced it).

But yesterday WVU fans were absolutely stellar- 58,106 West Virginia fans stood and gave the UCONN Huskies a standing ovation as they took the field. During the moment of silence for Jazz Howard, there was hoots or hollers, or chants from the student section.

West Virginia fans you did yourselves, your state, The Big East Conference, and the college football community proud. Coach Bill Stewart is one of the classiest gentleman in a game that has more than a few unsavory characters.

To the UCONN Huskies...I'm a guy that bleeds Rutgers Scarlet, but your courage and resolve is amazing....I salute you. Coach Randy Edsall has been so eloquent and strong in this crisis- no coach should ever be asked to to do what he has had to do this past week.

Jazz was one of yours.....and he belonged to the greater community of college football as well. His loss is a shared by all.

More on the UCONN-WVU game here.

Some other games
Cincinnati 41-Louisville 10- It doesn't matter who's back there at QB for Brian Kelly...the Bearcat Juggernaut rolls on, now 7-0 overall, 3-0 in conference, and ranked #5 at game time. And how far has the Louisville program fallen? Was it only January 2007 when Louisville won the Orange Bowl? Just an incredible fall from grace.

Pitt 42, South Florida 14. Yes Pitt IS THAT GOOD. They're in the Top 20, and deservedly so. And USF...its time for their annual midseason El Foldo. They started at 5-0, lost the last two, with each loss a little worse....and they look lost on offense, defense, and make too many mistakes. The USF vaunted defense? Torched for 24 second quarter points at Pitt, down 31-7 at the half.

Iowa 15, Michigan State 13. I didn't see the game, but did catch the highlights. A last second TD wins the game for Iowa on a fourth down pass. Hawkeyes go 8-0 for the first time ever, and 4-0 in the Big Ten. They're in the driver's seat for a Big Ten title, and the Rose Bowl.

Clemson 40, Miami 37 (OT) There were 12 lead changes and it took overtime to decide, it was indeed the wackiest game of the day, and one of the most entertaining of 2009. When it was all over #10 Miami went down to defeat at home to the Tigers. There were so many big plays in this one I can't do it click here for a recap of the game and some video.

Just on thing....if Rutgers beat Maryland, and Maryland beat Clemson, and Clemson beat Miami, shouldn't Rutgers get more than one vote in the AP poll?

Just curious as to who the voter is....and I don't think The Daily Targum has a vote.

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