College football is almost here, and it’s time to get into KU’s nonconference opponents for 2018. First up in our backwards countdown is game three, Rutgers.
Rutgers @ Kansas
September 15, 2018, 11:00 AM
Lawrene, KS: Memorial Stadium (50,071)
About the Rutgers Offense
Rutgers returns 60% of its offensive production from 2017 in the form of 7 starters. The Knights will likely be led by SR QB Giovannii Rescigno (47-100, 517 yds, 2-1 TD-INT), who split time with the departed Kyle Bolin last year. Rutgers is also missing its top two rushers from last season, but SO Raheem Blackshear (39 car, 238 yds, 3 TD) will look to pick up the slack there.
Not exactly known for their passing attack, Rutgers had six receivers in 2017 with over 100 yards on the entire season; none of those receivers had over 300 yards. In fact, the leading receiver was TE Jerome Washington (28 rec, 282 yds, TD), who returns for his senior campaign. The leading returning wide receiver is SO Bo Melton, who had just four receptions for 83 yards in 2017.
About the Rutgers Defense
It’s a bit of a different story on defense, where the Knights return 8 starters and 81% of their production from 2017. SR LB Trevor Morris (116 tak, 6 TFL, 0.5 sk) will lead the defense alongside fellow SR LB Deonte Roberts (96 tak, 5.5 TFL).
JR Damon Hayes (44 tak, 1.5 TFL, INT) and SR Kiy Hester (31 tak, 3 INT, 2 TD) will anchor the secondary, while seniors Kevin Wilkins (44 tak, 7 TFL) and Jon Bateky (28 tak, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sk) look to provide stability along the defensive line.
Rutgers is similar to Kansas in a few ways; notably, they are looking for a quarterback and a pass rusher. However, that may be where the similarities end. The Knights only got blown out of a few games last year, and even found a way to knock off Maryland (who beat Texas) and Purdue (who creamed Missouri). Rutgers is definitely improving under their third-year coach, Chris Ash.
But after doing this preview, I wonder... if Kansas can make Rutgers one-dimensional by stopping the run, the Jayhawks might have a decent shot in this one. However, I’m still in I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it mode. I’m not ready to predict a Kansas win here, although, I don’t think it will be as lopsided as I originally thought three months ago. Rutgers 21, Kansas 17.