Welcome back to our regular feature Friends With Bennies, where we sit down with opposing bloggers to talk about their team. Today it's John from SBN's Rutgers blog On The Banks.
TheUConnBlog: How's life under Kyle Flood? Are you happy with him as Schiano's long-term replacement?
TUB: Statistically, UConn and Rutgers have two of the more impressive defenses in the nation. What has been the key to the Scarlet Knight's success and who are the top playmakers UConn fans should be on the lookout for?
OTB: Rutgers is really stout down the middle, with the strength of the defense at DT and all three LB spots. Scott Vallone at DT is the guy who makes everything happen with consistent pressure up front, but there's somewhat of a question mark now with RU's nose tackle being out for the year.
Fortunately, a few other DL are back this week after missing the first month. The LBs have been great. Khaseem Greene is the headline guy (he's good, but relatively overrated), but the other guys are really good too.
TUB: How much is UConn's 40-22 win over Rutgers last year going to be a mental factor? Rutgers has been saying all week that it isn't an issue, but UConn's win did deny the Scarlet Knights a share of the Big East title.
OTB: How can it not be? For Rutgers, if it keeps them from looking past this game, then that's a victory. That was one of the worst losses of Greg Schiano's tenure. It needs to be a motivator without getting fixated on this. Rutgers just needs to focus on playing their game and executing.
TUB: Give us your prediction for this game.
OTB: Rutgers 27-13.
Yeah, UConn has always played Rutgers tough in the past, but I think the Pasqualoni/DeLeone combination is terrible and completely in over their heads, and don't respect UConn's OL or passing game very much. They have an experienced defense, but not a lot of depth, so injuries are starting to be an issue. A bad offense will at time grind any decent defense into dust without any support in sustaining drives or field position. If they go down big early, it's probably over.