We continue our look at Big East title chances for each team in the league. Next up: Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights finished last in the Big East in 2010, but you can make a case for them to win the league. Yes, I know that has never happened, but there is talent at Rutgers and this season should be better than last.
Why Rutgers will win the league title
1. Playmakers. There is no underestimating the talent at the skill positions. Mohamed Sanu returns. Mark Harrison returns. Brandon Coleman had a breakout spring. Tim Wright is back from a knee injury. Freshmen Tejay Johnson and Miles Shuler bring ridiculous amounts of speed. Highly touted freshman running back Savon Huggins enters the mix as well, giving Rutgers plenty of options on offense. Add in a new coordinator in Frank Cignetti, and you can bet there will be more of an offensive identity this season.
2. Better on D. Rutgers made several position changes in the offseason that could pay off in a big-time way. Manny Abreu moved from linebacker to defensive end, Khaseem Greene moved from safety to linebacker, Scott Vallone moved to nose tackle and David Rowe moved from cornerback to safety, just to name a few. Those three are impact players who have the potential to really shape the defense and how it plays this season.
3. Better O-line. It is hard to imagine Rutgers being worse here than last year. By now you already know Rutgers had the worst offensive line in the country, giving up an NCAA-high 61 sacks. The Scarlet Knights also averaged just 2.7 yards on the ground -- third worst in the nation. Four starters return, so they clearly have gained experience that was perhaps lacking last season. David Osei impressed during the spring and will start at center with the loss of Dallas Hendrikson (knee). A new offensive coordinator should help here as well, because Rutgers will have more of an identity and have schemes that could help make up for potential shortcomings.
Why Rutgers won't win the league title
1. Offensive line. If Rutgers doesn't show any improvement on the offensive line, the Scarlet Knights aren't going anywhere. As stated above, four starters return on the offensive line, so is that a good thing or a bad thing? Surely they have much more experience, but they also were pretty awful last season.
2. Defensive line. There are concerns here as well with the departure of Charlie Noonan and Alex Silvestro, along with Jonathan Freeny. You're only as good as you are in the trenches. Scott Vallone should be good in his move to nose tackle, but how will Michael Larrow do at Vallone's old spot? Abreu should be good, too, but what about Justin Francis and Jamil Merrell on the other side? Depth here is lacking as well.
3. Quarterback depth. How will Chas Dodd do in a new system? All indications from the spring showed he transitioned easily, and this offense is better suited for him. But in football, you need to have depth at the quarterback position. Once again, Rutgers could rely on a true freshman to backup Dodd. Gary Nova and Mike Bimonte are expected to come into camp in the fall and compete for the No. 2 job with Steve Shimko. Last season, Dodd came in when Tom Savage got hurt so you always must have another quarterback prepared and ready to go.