RUTGERS (0-0) at FRESNO STATE (0-0)
Thursday, August 29 • 10:30 p.m. • ESPNU
Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network
(710-WOR; 1450-WCTC; 610-WIP)
Live Stats: ScarletKnights.com
Series: Fresno State leads 1-0
• Rutgers opens its 144th year of football in the state of California for the second time in school history Thursday, August 29 at Fresno State.
• The only other time RU opened a season in California was at California in 1999 (L, 21-7).
• Kickoff is set for 10:32 p.m. with live national television coverage on ESPNU. Dave Flemming (play-by-play) former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti (color) and Lewis Johnson (sideline)have the call.
• Coverage on the Rutgers IMG Sports Network begins at 9:30 p.m. with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas and Anthony Fucilli calling the action.
• Rutgers faces Fresno State for the second time in school history and the first visit to Bulldog Stadium in Fresno. The Bulldogs traveled cross country to defeat Rutgers 24-7 on Labor Day to begin the 2008 season in Piscataway on ESPN.
• The Bulldogs were ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 the last time the two schools met. In the 2008 meeting, neither school managed to score in the first half before the Bulldogs scored the game’s first 10 points en route to the 24-7 victory. San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Matthews rushed for 163 yards and two scores in the win.
With a Victory …
• Rutgers would capture its fourth straight season-opening victory. The Scarlet Knights shutout both Norfolk State (31-0) in 2010 and North Carolina Central (48-0) in 2011 and won at Tulane (24-12) to open the 2012 season.
• For just the second time since 2006, Rutgers opens the year on the road. The Scarlet Knights are 2-0 in road games to start the season since 2006 (24-12 at Tulane in 2012 and 21-16 at North Carolina in 2006).
• With a win, Rutgers would even its all-time record against Mountain West competition. RU is 2-3 vs. the MWC (1-1 vs. Air Force; 0-1 vs. Fresno State; 1-1 vs. Hawaii).
The Opening Act
Rutgers is 73-61-9 all-time in season openers, including a 9-4 record since 2000. The Scarlet Knights are opening the year on the road for the second straight year after winning at Tulane 24-12 in the 2012 opener.
Opening Day Notes
Rutgers has scored 50 or more points in a season-opener four times, including a 68-6 victory over Colgate on Sept. 4, 1993. The school record for most points in the first game of the season was 79 after the Scarlet Knights defeated U.S. Merchant Marine 79-6 on Sept. 24, 1949.
Rutgers has posted 35 shutouts all-time in season-openers.
Earliest Start Date in School History
Rutgers opens the season on August 29, the earliest date to begin a year in school history. The Scarlet Knights have played seven times in the month of August to begin a season, going 5-2.
Among the five victories in August to open a season for the Scarlet Knights was the first game played in the Big East Conference in 1991 - a 20-13 triumph over Boston College.
August Season Openers
8/30/07 Rutgers 38, Buffalo 3
8/30/03 Rutgers 24, Buffalo 10
8/31/02 Villanova 37, Rutgers 19
8/30/01 Rutgers 31. Buffalo 15
8/30/97 Virginia Tech 59, Rutgers 19
8/31/96 Rutgers 38, Villanova 28
8/31/91 Rutgers 20, Boston College 13
Home games in bold
Memorable Season Openers
Here is a look back at some of the most memorable season openers for the Scarlet Knights:
Rutgers 24, Tulane 12 (9/1/2012 at Tulane)
Cornerback Brandon Jones returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown to help Rutgers surge past Tulane 24-12 to notch the first win of head coach Kyle Flood’s career “On the Banks” in the Superdome. The Scarlet Knights put the pesky Green Wave away with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Gary Nova to Brandon Coleman in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers 38, Buffalo 3 (8/30/2007 at RU)
Rutgers cruised to an easy 38-3 victory over Buffalo as junior WR Tiquan Underwood set a school record with 248 yards receiving. The New Jersey native hauled in 10 receptions on the night, including a pair of touchdowns in the 35-point victory.
Rutgers 21, N. Carolina 16 (9/2/2006 at UNC)
Rutgers’ historic 2006 season began with an All-America performance by Ray Rice as the sophomore running back rushed for 201 yards to lead the Scarlet Knights to a 21-16 victory on the road in Chapel Hill. The victory propelled Rutgers to a 9-0 start in 2006 en route to an overall record of 11-2 and a 12th place finish in the final national rankings.
Rutgers 19, Michigan St. 14 (9/4/2004 at RU)
In front of an ABC television audience and a sell-out crowd at Rutgers Stadium, Rutgers stopped Michigan State 19-14 to open the 2004 season. PK Jeremy Ito connected on four field goals and DE Ryan Neill returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the win.
Rutgers 31, Buffalo 15 (8/30/2001 at UB)
The first game of the Greg Schiano era finished in the win column for the Scarlet Knights. RB Dennis Thomas rushed for 177 yards on 30 carries and QB Ryan Cubit threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as a Scarlet Knight to help secure the victory.
Rutgers 20, Boston College 13 (8/31/1991 at RU)
Rutgers and Boston College played the inaugural BIG EAST conference game as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Eagles 20-13 at Rutgers Stadium. RB Bill Bailey scored the first touchdown in league history just 1:17 into the game while QB Tom Tarver threw for 275 yards and a touchdown.
Rutgers 17, #15/14 Michigan St. 13 (9/10/1988 at MSU)
The 1988 season began with a bang as Rutgers upset Michigan State 17-13 in East Lansing. QB Scott Erney completed 25-of-36 passes for 239 yards and LB Doug Kokoskie recovered a MSU fumble at the RU 10-yard line with 5:32 remaining to seal the upset over the defending Rose Bowl champions.
Rutgers 28, #3 Florida 28 (9/14/1985 at UF)
Backup QB Joe Gagliardi came off the bench to rally Rutgers and complete a two-point conversion pass to Curtis Stephens with 35 seconds remaining as the Scarlet Knights, trailing by 21 points at one point, tied third-ranked Florida, 28-28 in Gainesville.
#11/7 Penn St. 15, Rutgers 12 (9/8/1984 at PSU)
In his first game as head coach at Rutgers, Dick Anderson returned to State College to face Penn State, where he spent 11 years as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno. Anderson’s Scarlet Knights were tied at 10 at halftime versus the nationally-ranked Nittany Lions, but a second-half safety and field goal proved too much as the Scarlet Knights lost 15-12.
Rutgers 16, Princeton 13 (9/30/1961 at PU)
An 83-yard pass play from Bill Speranza to Lee Curley, and a two-point run by Dave Brody with 3:27 to play gave Rutgers a 16-7 edge en route to a 16-13 victory over Princeton, Rutgers’ fourth straight win over the Tigers. The win was the first as the Scarlet Knights finished the 1961 season 9-0 - the first undefeated season in school history.
Rutgers 6, Princeton 4 (11/6/1869 at RU)
The first college football game was played at College Field in New Brunswick as Rutgers came away with a 6-4 victory.
This Week’s Opponent: Fresno State
Fresno State, which finished its first season of Mountain West play as tri-champions with a 7-1 mark (9-4 overall) in 2012, received 39 of the 41 first-place votes in the West Division.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and free safety Derron Smith were named the league’s preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively. The Bulldogs had seven players in all that were voted to the 2013 MW Football Preseason All-Conference Team, which were two more selections than any other school in the conference had
Carr, the 2012 MW Offensive Player of the Year, threw for a conference-record 4,104 yards to rank eighth in the nation a year ago. He tossed 37 touchdowns on the season (tying for third nationally), against just seven interceptions. The Bakersfield, Calif., product completed a league-record 344 passes on 511 attempts for a 67.3 completion percentage. Carr had three games of more than 400 yards passing, which set a new MW standard. With his 3,544 passing yards in 2011, Carr joined Trent Dilfer (1992-93) as the only Bulldog quarterbacks to pass for over 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Smith, a 2012 All-MW First-Team honoree, finished last season with six interceptions, good for second-best in the MW and tied for fifth nationally. The Banning, Calif., native ranked second on the team with 79 tackles, and in addition, had two pass breakups and one forced fumble. Smith keyed a defensive effort that saw the Bulldogs earn national top-20 rankings in pass defense (second at 167.15 ypg), interceptions (third at 22), pass efficiency defense (fourth at 100.75) and opponent completion percentage (fifth at .514).
Head coach Tim DeRuyter, who was hired as the 17th head coach at Fresno State on Dec. 14, 2011, guided the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, the Mountain West championship and a berth in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve in his rookie season.
DeRuyter led the Bulldogs to a 7-1 mark in their first season of Mountain West play to capture the school’s first conference championship since 1999, ending a 13-year drought.
Since 2009, Rutgers has led all schools nationally with 31 blocked kicks/punts. During that time span, RU has scored 11 touchdowns via special teams.
Rutgers and UCLA tied for the national lead with eight blocked kicks/punts in 2012.
NCAA Team Blocked Kick Leaders Since 2009
1. Rutgers 31
2. Fresno State 24
Conference Championship in Three Centuries
Rutgers captured a share of its first Big East Championship after finishing the 2012 season 9-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big East. It also gave RU conference championships in three different centuries (1894 Middle States Football League Champions; 1958, 1960, 1961 University Division Champion of the Middle Atlantic Conference and 2012 BIG EAST). In its final season in the Big East, Rutgers defeated league opponents USF, Connecticut, Syracuse, Temple and Cincinnati.
Pipeline to the NFL
Rutgers had 15 players sign with NFL teams following the 2012 season, including a school-record seven selected in the NFL Draft.
2013 NFL Draft Class
Player NFL Organization Rd. Pick
Logan Ryan, CB New England Patriots 3 83
Duron Harmon, FS New England Patriots 3 91
Khaseem Greene, LB Chicago Bears 4 117
D.C. Jefferson, TE Arizona Cardinals 7 219
Jawan Jamison, RB Washington Redskins 7 228
Steve Beauharnais, LB New England Patriots 7 235
Marcus Cooper, CB San Francisco 49ers 7 252
2013 Free Agent Signees
R.J. Dill, OT Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Harrison, WR Chicago Bears
Tim Wright, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brandon Jones, CB New England Patriots
Ka’Lial Glaud, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scott Vallone, DT New England Patriots
Mason Robinson, CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marvin Booker, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Scarlet Knights finished fourth in the nation in scoring defense (14.15 points allowed/game), tied for ninth in turnovers gained (32) and 10th in total defense (311.62 yards allowed/game). In addition, Rutgers allowed 91 points in seven BIG EAST games, the eighth-lowest total allowed in league history.
Gary Nova threw for the third-highest yardage total in Rutgers’ single-game history in the 35-26 win at Arkansas in 2012. Nova set career-highs in passing yards (397), completions (25) and passing touchdowns (five) against the Hogs. For his efforts, he was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week and was named one of the Manning Award “Stars of the Week.” The Davey O’Brien Award also cited Nova as an honorable mention national quarterback of the week. He finished the season 36-6 as a starting quarterback dating back to his high school days. Nova recorded 22 touchdown passes on the year, the second-best total for a season in program history.
After just two seasons on the roster, Nova already ranks sixth in school history with 4,248 career passing yards, 337 completions and 33 touchdowns. He became the 11th quarterback in program history with 3,000 passing yards.
Big Play Brandon
Wide receiver Brandon Coleman quickly developed into one of the nation’s premier deep threats in his first two seasons at Rutgers.
The Maryland native has a career yards per reception average of 21.2 and 10 of his 16 career touchdown receptions have covered 30 yards or more. Coleman’s 10 receiving touchdowns in 2012 tied Marco Battaglia’s school record for single-season receiving touchdowns set in 1995.
Coleman is already tied for fifth in school history with 16 receiving touchdowns. Coleman has averaged 39.1 yards per touchdown reception in his career. In 2012, Coleman had 43 receptions for 718 yards and a team-best 10 receiving touchdowns.
RU Career Receiving Touchdown Leaders
1. Tim Brown (2006-09) 20
2. Mark Harrison (2009-12) 18
3. Kenny Britt (2006-08) 17
Chris Brantley (1990-93) 17
5. Brandon Coleman (2011-present) 16
Tiquan Underwood (2005-08) 16
Marco Battaglia (1992-95) 16
Tres Moses (2001-05) 16
9. Brian Leonard (2003-06) 13
Bob Simms (1957-59) 13
Flood Announces 2013 Captains
Kyle Flood announced the 2013 season captains as selected by members of the Rutgers football team. Senior defensive tackle Jamil Merrell, senior linebacker Jamal Merrell, junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman and junior quarterback Gary Nova were selected team captains.
The Merrell brothers are the first brothers to serve as team captains in the same season for Rutgers since Gabe and George Ludlow 120 years ago. The Ludlow brothers were team captains in 1893.
Three additional sets of brothers were tabbed Rutgers football captains, but not in the same year. Those captain combinations included Jason McCourty (2008) and Devin McCourty (2009), Bill Pickell (1982) and George Pickel (1985) and Clem Udovich (1985) and Pat Udovich (1989).
Getting it Done in the Classroom
The Rutgers football program has earned the 2012-13 BIG EAST Team Excellence Award, the conference office announced. It was the second-straight year the Scarlet Knights won the honor for football.
RU was chosen as the BIG EAST’s football winner based on the 2012-13 grade-point average (GPA) of each student-athlete who appeared on the RU roster as of the last contest of the championship segment in each conference-sponsored sport.
Rutgers football continues its established trend as one of the nation’s top programs in the classroom and on the playing field as the Scarlet Knights ranked tied for 11th nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR), according to the latest multi-year APR figures released by the NCAA. RU was the lone state university to be ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in APR for the sixth-consecutive year. In addition, Rutgers was the only institution to win four bowl games while earning the APR honor in the top 10 percent over the previous six-year span.
In February, 28 football players were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Football Team.
Coleman Nominated for AFCA Good Works Team
Brandon Coleman has been nominated for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®. The award honors college football players at all levels of the sport for their selfless acts of giving back to the community and off-the-field achievements. A record 150 nominees have been put up for the AFCA Good Works Team®.
Coleman has been heavily involved in the community since arriving on campus, participating in such events as Read Across America, Port Reading Saints Pop Warner, Metuchen Middle School Anti-Bullying Campaign, Athletes in Action, Urban Impact, Hurricane Irene cleanup and Special Olympics New Jersey. The junior also visited Haiti after its earthquake in 2010 and helped with the recovery efforts by taking part in the construction of a church and mentoring young children.
“Volunteering and performing community service has been ingrained into me since a young age,” Coleman said. “My parents would take me to soup kitchens and we would go on school trips to help whenever we could. It has been a habit and I didn’t want to stop once I arrived at Rutgers. The feeling of helping others is truly rewarding. I plan on continuing to volunteer once I leave here as well.”
On the field, Coleman was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team after tying a school record with 10 touchdown receptions in 2012. He was tabbed a 2013 Preseason Third Team All-American by Sporting News and was named to the Preseason All-American Athletic Conference First Team by Phil Steele and Athlon.
From the nominees submitted by sports information directors across the nation on behalf of their schools, a special voting panel consisting of former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® members and prominent college football media members will select the 2013 Good Works Team.® Comprised of 11 players from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and 11 players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III, and the NAIA, the final roster of 22 award recipients will be unveiled in September.
Eric LeGrand to Have Jersey Number Retired
Continuing to persevere and provide an inspiration to all, Eric LeGrand’s No. 52 will be retired by Rutgers football in a ceremony Sept. 14 at High Point Solutions Stadium. It will be the first number raised in the 144-year history of the program.
“We’re excited to be able to do that for him and his family,“ head coach Kyle Flood said at the American Athletic Conference Kickoff in Newport, R.I. “It will be a great day, not just for Rutgers football, but for the LeGrand family and everybody that’s associated with us.
“Through his career and now beyond it, where he’s still a huge and a daily part of our program while he still continues to work towards graduation, he is somebody who is special to us at Rutgers and special to me as a coach and a friend.”
Rehabbing since suffering a career-ending injury in a game in 2010, LeGrand has set a goal of walking once again – inspiring many along the way. He regularly speaks to organizations about overcoming obstacles, and was presented the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs in 2012. LeGrand additionally enters his third season as a member of the Rutgers Radio Network and has a major presence on Twitter.
“What an honor thank you @RFootball this means the world to me,” LeGrand tweeted.
The number will be officially retired in a presentation against Eastern Michigan. The birthplace of college football, the Scarlet Knights have never set aside a number in program history.
Flood added that once LeGrand walks again, Rutgers will bring back the number for special occasions.
Coleman Named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List
Brandon Coleman has been named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List. Given annually to the outstanding receiver in college football, the award will be presented live on Dec. 12 on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
Coleman is coming off one of the best receiving seasons in Rutgers history in 2012, tying a school record with 10 touchdown grabs. The 2012 All-BIG EAST Second Team selection led the team with 718 receiving yards last season and ranks tied for fifth on the school’s all-time list with 16 career touchdown catches.
Johnson, Lowery On Outland Trophy Watch List
Junior offensive tackle Kaleb Johnson and senior guard Antwan Lowery have been named to the initial Outland Trophy Watch List, announced by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The Outland Trophy is given annually to the nation’s best interior lineman.
Johnson, one of 25 tackles on the preseason list, is a preseason All-American Athletic Conference selection by Athlon, Phil Steele and Sporting News. He started all 13 games in 2012, earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors.
Lowery garnered First Team All-BIG EAST recognition after earning the nod in every game of the 2012 season at left guard. One of 20 guards on the list, Lowery is a Preseason All-American Athletic Conference First Team selection by Athlon and Phil Steele.
Johnson and Lowery each helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rusher Jawan Jamison last season, while anchoring a line that allowed the eighth-fewest sacks in the nation.
Jamal Merrell on Bednarik Award Watch List
Jamal Merrell earned a spot on the 2013 Bednarik Award watch list, the Maxwell Football Club announced. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995.
It is the third preseason honor for Merrell, who also was named Phil Steele Preseason Second Team All-American Athletic Conference and Athlon Preseason All-Conference Third Team. He recorded 83 total tackles, 8.5 for loss and two blocked kicks in 13 starts as the strongside linebacker last season. Merrell picked up double-digit stops against Howard, Arkansas and Louisville.
Going Back to Cali
Fifth-year senior transfer Nick Marsh returns home to California for the first game of the season at Fresno State. The Petaluma, Calif., native graduated from the University of Utah in May and is enrolled in a master’s program at Rutgers.
Marsh specialized in kickoffs for Utah, notching 25 touchbacks in 60 attempts as a junior in 2012. He punted in six games, doing all the punting against USC and Pittsburgh and sharing the job in four games last season.
Marsh and freshman defensive back Justin Hyde (Roseville) are the only California natives on the roster.
Rutgers Injury Report - Fresno State Game
Player Injury Game Status
Carlton Agudoci Hamstring Questionable
Bryant Gross-Armiento Hamstring Questionable
Dallas Hendrikson Lower leg Probable
Max Issaka Shoulder Out
Myles Jackson Shoulder Out
Quanzell Lambert Shoulder Questionable
Antwan Lowery Ankle Questionable
Jamil Merrell Lower leg Probable
Julian Pinnix-Odrick Knee Out
Ian Thomas Shoulder Probable