Eastern Michigan at Rutgers: Preview

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

One last out-of-conference road game for EMU before their Homecoming game. This one is against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University.

After suffering a 45-7 loss at Penn State last week, the Eagles will look to to turn it around as they travel to New Brunswick, NJ to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-1).

The Eastern Michigan looked very promising in the first half against Penn State, totaling 139 yards with 18:44 in time of possession and a defensive touchdown. While EMU was 3-for-9 in third down conversions in that half, the defense held the Nittany Lions to 0-for-4 on third downs. But alas, all of that would change, as Penn State would be the more dominant team in the second half.

Many Eastern followers see this matchup as a better opportunity for EMU to run away with a win than the Penn State game.

Here are some notes to take in as we look forward to the weekend:

Gary Nova isn't as good as Christian Hackenberg. Coming out of high school, Hackenberg was one of the best 5-star quarterbacks in the nation, whereas Nova wasn't nearly as highly touted. I know recruiting doesn't paint the full picture, but let's remember what Nova did last year. In 2012, Nova threw for a hair under 2,700 yards for 22 touchdowns but 16 interceptions. Ten of those 16 interceptions were thrown against non-conference opponents. Look for Eastern, whose defense already has three interceptions for the year going into this game, to try to create turnovers on Rutgers' ariel attack.

On that note, Rutgers has a pair of very talented receivers: Leonte Carroo (6 rec., 157 yards, 3 TD) and Brandon Coleman (11 rec., 124 yards, 2 TD). Carroo was more of a special teams player last season, but he has now emerged into the team's leading receiver. Team captain Coleman was a second team All Big East player just a season ago. Let's look at what sort of coverages and defenses that coach Ron English will be calling to keep the ball away from these two.

Improve the run game. As a team, the Eagles ran the ball 35 times for 61 yards against Penn State. That's less than 2 yards per carry. A lot of it had to do with the fact that the offensive line was outmatched by PSU's defensive interior. Hopefully this week will be a different story and Bronson HIll can have 100+ rushing yards for the game, but something has got to change for this week, otherwise that Scarlet Knight d-line is going to have a field day.

Keep feeding Tyreese Russell the ball. It looks like Russell is filling in very nicely over at the tight end position. After his eight-catch game last week, he is the first, and only, EMU player to have over 100 yards receiving for the season (10 catches for 101 yards). This comes at no surprise, though. At 6'3, 242 lbs., Russell played in 11 games in both 2011 and 2012 seasons. His experience will show throughout the season and is a big target for Tyler Benz to get the ball to in tight situations.

I think EMU does at least have a good chance of making some noise in New Brunswick this Saturday. Parrish seems like he's been doing his homework, attacking the defense's weaknesses with his play calling. However, Rutgers' offense is good enough to find a hole in the Eastern defense, if it's big enough. I'll take Rutgers to win: 28-17.

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