Redskins

No. 20 Rutgers faces Syracuse a final time

No. 20 Rutgers faces Syracuse a final time

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) If there was a true start to quarterback Gary Nova's career at No. 20 Rutgers, it came last year against Syracuse.

The then-true freshman replaced Chas Dodd in the second half against the Orange and rallied the Scarlet Knights to a double-overtime victory.

Nova and Dodd split the quarterback job the remainder of last season but Nova has been the starter since Kyle Flood took over as coach this season and there can't be any complaining about the results.

Rutgers (5-0, 2-0 Big East) will try to improve to 6-0 for the third time since 1976 and become bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight seasons when it faces Syracuse (2-3, 1-0) at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday.

This will be the final conference game between the schools who have played every season since 1980. The Orange are moving to the ACC next season.

Nova has vivid recollections of the last game. He wondered whether his shoes were tied, his helmet was buckled and whether he had his mouthpiece.

``My head was spinning,'' he said, adding it looked like Syracuse had 22 players on the field for his first snap. ``As the game went on - it usually slows down - but it didn't. I took a few hits, and it was kind of a welcome-to-college-football moment for me.''

Things have slowed down for Nova in his second season, and his statistics show he's seeing the field a lot better. Nova has completed 92 of 151 passes for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Five of the scores have gone to wide receiver Brandon Coleman.

``Same approach I've taken every week,'' Nova said when asked about this year's game. ``Just preparing hard and trying to give myself the best advantage I can get to mentally be prepared for them this week.''

Nova has benefited this season from having a running game that features Jawan Jamison. The running back has gained at least 100 yards in all five games this season and sixth straight overall.

Syracuse's blitzing defense is coming off a big win over Pittsburgh, a game in which it limited the Panthers to 27 yards rushing.

``It didn't even start with Pitt,'' defensive tackle Deon Goggins said. ``It started games before that when we fought the other teams like Northwestern, fought against teams like USC. Our defense has always been great. Just now that we're clicking and putting the little things together so that's what we want to capitalize from last week to this week and keep moving forward.''

Goggins is also looking forward to the final game with the Scarlet Knights and he expects it to be rowdy .

``This year, they're ranked, top 20 or something like that,'' Goggins said. ``Just go out there and play fast and physical with them, show them we can play with them and they're not above us.''

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib ranks in the top 20 nationally in completions per game (27.4), passing yards (1,552), passing yards per game (310.4) and total offense (327.8.

However, he will be facing the nation's second best run defense (60.6 yards) and a unit whose 10 interceptions is also second overall.

``They're really good,'' Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. ``They fly around, they pressure, they play cover-2, they do a good mix. They really put a lot of stress on you by bringing a lot of people which causes you to make plays. The good thing is if you make plays, it's going to be a big one. If you don't, it'll probably be an incomplete or something like that. You've got to move on.

``There's not a lot of little gains there, like the 3-yard or 4-yard gains. They're going to come after you and if you can get something going, you've got a chance to make a lot of big gains in a row.''

Rutgers has won five of the last seven meetings with the last two being decided by three points. If that's the case this season, the Scarlet Knights could be in trouble. Freshman placekicker Kyle Federico has been battling a lower body injury and his status for the game is iffy, at best.

Flood has a couple of options if Federico can't play. Nick DeLouisa, who missed an extra point in his first collegiate kick in the fourth quarter against Connecticut last weekend, and fellow walk-on Nick Borgese. The coach also had a tryout this week and added senior walk-on Joe Behnke to the roster.

``Kyle is Plan A,'' Flood said. ``And everybody else is Plan B.''

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Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, August 19, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

A year ago, there was tremendous concern about the Redskins’ rushing game. In their first two preseason games in 2017 when the games were the Redskins’ first-team offense against the other team’s starters on defense, Washington gained 13 yards on 13 carries. In the first halves of those games, which were played mostly with players on both sides who would end up making the roster the total was 21 attempts for 20 yards. 

At the time, the company line was to downplay the problems. 

“I’m just not worried,” said Trent Williams.

“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take plus-one, plus-two, negative-one, then you get a plus-eight. And things to pop. It’s attrition. Nothing’s going to happen just because you want it to.”

As we now know, the Redskins rushing game never really got going. Certainly, injuries to backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson and to the entire offensive line contributed heavily to their No. 27 ranking in rushing yards. But a look at the preseason could indicate that the building blocks for an effective rushing game just weren’t in place. 

Things are looking better this year. In two preseason games, the Redskins have rushed for 216 yards. In the first halves of the games, they have 31 attempts for 109 yards. That’s not a great average (3.5 yards per carry) but it is a vast improvement on the sub-one yard per carrying average they had through two games last year. 

Let’s not get carried away here. Preseason numbers aren’t rock-solid indicators by any stretch and even if they were we are looking at a small sample size. Still, the preseason stats are what we have to look at right now. We will see how things develop.  

Bureau of statistics

In 2017 the Redskins averaged 123 rushing yards per game in their first five games. In their last 11 games, they averaged 76 per game. 

On the record

Jay Gruden on the returns of RBs Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine from ankle injuries: "There are no reports really, we'll just wait and see. Every injury is different, and we'll play it by ear and see how long it takes . . . The injury report will come out Week 1 on - when is it, Wednesday? And there you have it."

Comment: Yes, this really was Gruden and not Bill Belichick. The whole organization has been tighter with injury information in general this year. We’re getting a lot of descriptions like “lower leg” rather than ankle or toe. If that’s the way they want to do business that’s fine but be advised as a fan that you are not going to get much information. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:50; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 5 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 13 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 21 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

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Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler