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2014 Early NFL Fantasy Football Rankings

Starting today (January 17th) a new position will come out every week with the top 10 at that position. Feel free to leave comments on what you agree with or do not agree with about that list. This list was not solely created by myself, I discussed with many people. The most input taken into account next to my own came from the man who taught me most about fantasy football.

By Dylan A. Morton

QB’s

1. Aaron RodgersWhen healthy its hard to argue that Rodgers is not the best in the world at his profession. Green Bay will definitely look to address its offensive line issues in the draft to keep their number one man healthy for all 16 games. If they can address said issues, Rodgers will go back to his old ways, an extremely productive QB in his prime.

2. Peyton ManningThe sheriff reigned supreme over his league in 2013. Its amazing to think that after 4 neck surgeries Manning had his best statistical year in 2013. Almost equally as amazing, Manning had his incredible season at the age of 37. If it were up to Manning, he would have exchanged a 30 TD 10 INT season for another super bowl ring.

 3. Drew BreesIf Brees played every game in New Orleans he would be # 1 by a long shot. He really struggles on the road especially with turnovers. Brees “struggles” still make for a top QB because he more than makes up for it in yards and his stellar play at home.

4. Cam Newton – “SuperCam” brought his A game in 2013 and surprise  surprise his team made it to the playoffs. Look for Newton to become even more of a duel threat in 2014 and if he can do that 2015 might see Newton’s name in the top 2 or see him leap frog his divisional foe Brees. 

5. Russell WilsonMost people do not agree with this pick but lets take a look at some stats. Only two QB’s have thrown more touchdowns in their first two seasons than Wilson (Peyton Manning & Dan Marino). He has proven that he is not going to turn the ball over (his second season in a row with less than 10 INTS). That coupled with his running ability and a third year to get comfortable in the NFL is the recipe for Wilson’s place at number 5 on this list. Oh he’s also a Super Bowl winning QB.

6. Andrew Luck – Luck has been everything the Colts have asked him to be.  His play has helped them win their first of what could be many division titles with him under center. Like his draft pick number eventually he could be number one in fantasy football as far as QB’s are concerned. In 2013, Luck really focused on limiting the turnovers from his rookie season and he succeeded in that mission cutting his INT’s in half from 18 to 9.

 7. Tony Romo- For all the talk about his late game performance Romo is just about shoe in for 30 TD’s every year. Romo has recently undergone his back surgery and argument can be made he does not deserve his #7 ranking but he has been too consistent for too long not to be in the top 10.

8. Matt Stafford- Matt Stafford is one of just four QB’s to throw for 5,000 yards in one season. He has the best wide receiver on the planet to throw to. He almost cracked 30 TD’s in 2013 in which he finished with 29.  But the 2013 season saw Stafford throw his most INT’s (19) since his rookie year in 2009. He will have to adjust to a new system with coach Jim Caldwell but as long as Megatron is there Stafford can look forward to a great season.

9. Philip Rivers – Lets call 2013 the Renaissance of Philip Rivers . What a difference a year and a head coach makes.  He deservedly won Come Back Player of The Year.  In 2013 Rivers added 6 to his passing TD total and reduced his INT total by 4. There is no question head coach Mike McCoy had an impact on Rivers success in 2013. Guess what McCoy will be back in 2014, so does this mean Rivers success will be back too? The short answer yes.

 10. Matt Ryan- “Matty Ice” certainly was cold in 2013. Lack of weapons and a running game can be at fault for Ryan’s 2013 campaign. With Julio Jones and Roddy White back healthy, 2014 will see Ryan return to form. The reason he is not higher is the departure of one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the league, but nonetheless Ryan will be just fine.

 

Honorable Mention: Nick Foles, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton 

Rookies to Watch: Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater 

WR’s

1. Calvin JohnsonAs fans we can and should just sit and enjoy an incredible player at the top of his game in his prime. Calvin Johnson continues to amaze NFL fans with his ability on the football field. His TD production came back in 2013 with 12 after just 3 TD’s in a record breaking (yards wise ) 2012 campaign. He will continue to be the number #1 wide receiver until someone can pry this spot from Megatron’s hands. P.S. good luck with that.

2. AJ Green- Another solid season for AJ Green (98 receptions, 1,426 yards and 11 TD’s).   Teams know he is getting the ball and still cannot stop him (lead all receivers with 180 targets). Giovanni Bernard took some of the pressure off of him in the passing game last season but Green is still the clear number 1 option and a nightmare for opposing defenses.

3.  Demaryius Thomas- Thomas is playing with arguably the best quarterback to ever walk this earth. In his two seasons with Manning Thomas has showed that he can get it done. Even with Wes Welker’s presence Thomas production did not see as steep decline as some thought. Many thought Welker’s presence and emerging TE Julius Thomas would lead to less targets but his targets actually went up, granted it was only by 2 compared to 2012. With so many fish in the Bronco offense Thomas is still eating the most.  Year 3 with Manning will reap some of the same results as year’s 1 and 2.

4.   Julio Jones- Jones was one his way to having a great season in 2013, then he got injured. He is an extremely talented receiver and has taken over as the number one passing option for the Falcons. He possesses size and speed that make him virtually un-guardable (not sure that is a word but now it is).

5. Josh Gordon– Perhaps the hardest receiver to rank after his great 2013 season was Josh Gordon. At 23 years old Gordon lead the league in receiving yards (1,646 yards) and finished with 9 TD’s. Lets not forget he missed 2 games due to suspension!!! If he can fix his off the field problems he can make a very nice career for himself. Gordon proved that it did not matter who his quarterback was he was going to produce. He is a match up nightmare with his size and speed. He comes in at 5 because he has not proven he can keep this production over the course of multiple seasons (Braylon Edwards come to mind). Make no mistake if he can continue his success he may be greatest threat to Megatron’s perch at number 1.

 

 6. Brandon Marshall– Marshall and Jay Cutler have become a formidable one two punch up in Chicago and earlier in Denver. This year Marshal finished with 100 receptions on 163 targets, 1,295 yards and 12 TD’s to make for a solid year.  With emerging receiver Alshon Jeffery on the other side Marshall may have to “fight” for more touches in 2014 but he is still a supreme talent and a reliable option for Jay Cutler.

7.    Antonio Brown– Quick who had more receiving yards than Antonio Brown this season?…. Answer only one person Josh Gordon. Brown had a great season in Pittsburgh to the tune of 110 receptions, 1,499 yards and 8 TD’s. Those are some big stats for a guy who checks in at 5’10 185 pounds. Unlike most of the guys on this list he is a bit smaller, which may or may lead to forgetting what a great 2013 he had. At just 25 years old he may not have reached his full potential, which is scary to think about.

8.    Dez Bryant- Say what you want about Dez Bryant when he gets between the white lines he brings his A game week in and week out. As long as Tony Romo is ready to go in 2014 Bryant will continue to be a productive receiver and a WR 1in fantasy football. I worry however for Cowboy fans if Bryant has reached his ceiling.

9. Jordy Nelson– One of Aaron Rodgers most reliable targets Jordy Nelson checks in at 9 after a great 2013 season. His biggest problem was the health of the man tossing him the rock. Even with Rodgers out for a good portion of the season Nelson still managed this line : 85 catches, 1,314 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Expect more of the same but probably more if Rodgers stays on the field in 2014.

 10. Alshon Jeffery– The only team with two receivers in the top 10 belongs to the Chicago Bears. After playing in 10 games in 2012 Jeffery played his first full season in the NFL in 2013. He finished 2013 with 89 receptions on 150 targets 1,421 yards and 7 TD, not bad for the first full season.  Alshon Jeffery proved at times last year he can be the number 1 threat in the Bears attack. 2014 will be his third year and that’s generally when receivers take off and put up great numbers even in 2013 Jeffery put up great numbers. Soon he could the number 1 threat permanently, but for now he sits at a close second to Brandon Marshall (in terms of pass options).

Honorable mention: Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson

Rookies To Watch: Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin 

RB’s 

1.  Jamaal Charles– Charles has to be #1 going into next year. His pass catching and big play ability make him almost impossible to keep out of the end zone on a weekly basis. Besides the year has gotten hurt he has put up great numbers in the pro’s. He finished 2013 with 1,287 rushing yards, good for 3rd in the league and he also tied for the league lead with 12 rushing TD’s. But he becomes a bigger asset in the passing game, he finished 2013 with 70 receptions for 693 yards and 7 TD’s.

2. LeSean McCoyMcCoy proved that a running back can succeed in Chip Kelly’s offense and boy did he ever.  McCoy lead the league in rushing this year with 1,607 yards on the ground. When he is in open space defenders begin to shake in their cleats. McCoy is able catch passes out of backfield like Charles but does not have quite the same big play ability.

3. Adrian Peterson There is no secret that running backs do not last long in the NFL. Adrian Peterson is the exception not the rule he has held up well injury wise and when he has gotten seriously injured he came back to put up 2,000 yards in a season. He is still an elite running back and belongs in the top 3. With that being said, he will have to get accustom to a new offense and possibly another quarterback. If AP doesn’t put up his usual numbers it wont be for physical reasons. 

4. Matt ForteThis year Forte finished tied for 3rd amongst running backs with 74 catches out of the backfield. Forte had arguably his best season in his pro career this year. He finished second to LeSean McCoy in rushing with 1,339 yards. He nearly got to 10 rushing TD’s finishing the season with 9 TD’s on the ground.  With Cutler back and another year in that offense Forte will again be a productive back.

5. Eddie LacyAfter a great rookie season an argument can be made that Lacy should be higher on the list. But just one season is not enough to over take the top 4. He finished off a great rookie campaign with 1,178 yards and 11TD and missed 2 games.  Hopefully Aaron Rodgers can be healthy for a full season as that really helps Lacy’s development. If he puts up good numbers again next year in 2015 Lacy could see him in the top 3.

6. Marshawn LynchAnother year, another Marshawn Lynch appearance in the top 10. Like Peterson, Lynch has had a lot of miles on his tires. Lynch is a tough runner who gives out punishment instead of taking it which is why he is so affective. He has greatly helped Russell Wilson giving the young Wilson a wonderful crutch. Look for him to continue to be the anchor of the Seattle offense in 2015.

7. Le’Veon BellThis is perhaps the biggest risk of the running back group. However, I really liked what I saw out of Le’Veon Bell this season. Bell quietly had a pretty good rookie season overshadowed by Eddie Lacy’s great rookie campaign. With 45 catches in 2013, 2014 could see Bell catch a lot more passes making him a PPR dream. Like Lacy, Bell really has chance to ascend. His youth makes him great for keeper leagues. Eventually we could be writing about Bell and Lacy being much higher on this list.

8. DeMarco MurrayMurray’s biggest problem is the Cowboys refuse to give him the ball. That and injury concerns land him at 8.If he could ever stay healthy for a full season he has top 5 fantasy running back ability. But if he is an RB 1 he just simply cannot be trusted at this point to play a full season.

9. Ryan Matthews – The back the Chargers thought they were getting finally showed up in 2013. Matthews ended the season with 285 attempts for 1255 yards and 6 TD’s hopefully he follow up his good 2013 season with another one in 2014. His biggest problem is staying healthy if he can do that he will continue to produce in San Diego.

 10. Arian Foster– I saw this coming before the season started. Foster had a lot of carries the previous couple of seasons even though he was still relatively productive for the short time he played. His body simply did not hold up, in 2014 he will be in a new offense so make note of that. He is still talented enough to return from back surgery and be productive again.

 

Honorable Mention: Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Chris Johnson,

Rookies to Watch: Tre Mason, Bishop Sankey

 

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Gary Nova: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

By Garrett Stepien

“My momma always says, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'” — Forrest Gump

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The same can be said for Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova, who is a dice throw with every start he makes. Rutgers fans often sit around and contemplate which Gary Nova will show up at each week’s game: Will it be the one who torched Fresno State, Arkansas, and SMU? Or will it be the guy who combined to throw nine interceptions on Homecoming the past two years?

No one knows, and it’s the most frustrating thing in the world if you’re a Rutgers football fan. Here is a guy who has clearly shown that he possesses the tools to play quarterback at a very high level in college football. Some days he toys around with secondaries, floating passes beautifully with pinpoint accuracy to the multitude of big-play receivers available. There are the times where he steps up and delivers the big throw in crunch time. Look no further than the two touchdown passes to Leonte Carroo where he thread the needle on two perfect balls. Or when he found Carroo again for the game-winners against Arkansas and Temple–both of which came on fourth and long situations.

Then there are the times where he plays pitch-and-catch with the guys in the opposite uniforms. Throughout the 31 games that he has played in thus far in his career, Nova has thrown at least three interceptions in four of them, with his career total at 35.

The Review: Ups and Downs

Last year, through the first seven games of the season where he led the Scarlet Knights to a 7-0 start and a BCS ranking that peaked at 15. During that stretch, he was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country with 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions. To put that in perspective, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel had 14 touchdowns to six interceptions at that point in the season.

(Mel Evans/AP) After back-to-back poor outings against Louisville and Houston, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has rebounded--but for how long?

(Mel Evans/AP)
After back-to-back poor outings against Louisville and Houston, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has rebounded–but for how long?

Until his second half plummet, where he resorted to throwing seven touchdowns to 11 interceptions, Nova appeared to have it figured out. He went into the offseason under a lot of scrutiny, with critics questioning head coach Kyle Flood’s “blind loyalty” towards Nova. The blame fell on his shoulders for all four losses down the stretch–including a 20-17 loss to Louisville to cost Rutgers its first BCS berth and outright conference championship in the school’s 144-year history of football.

While I don’t agree with the movement that Nova lost the 2012 finale to Louisville (see Tim Wright), there is no doubt that he didn’t play up to his potential and, at times, looked lost. His confidence was shot down. Then his heart was questioned: Sometimes it looked like he didn’t even care. Did he have the fire needed as a leader at the quarterback position to take this team to where it’s never been before?

The offseason allowed Nova to quietly slip away from the criticism and come back to Piscataway in the spring with praise from Flood and new offensive coordinator Ron Prince–his third play-caller in all three years as Rutgers’ quarterback. The junior returned with an apparent chip on his shoulder, dropping 20 pounds and being named to one of four captains by his teammates as just a junior. He was the unquestioned starter–something Rutgers hasn’t been able to say at the quarterback position in a long time–but the question still lingered: Would he be able to take the next step?

Right out of the gates, it appeared that way. He torched Fresno State, going shot for shot with reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and current Heisman dark horse David Carr, matching him with five touchdowns. He threw an interception that hit off the hands of Leonte Carroo and was caught by a Fresno State defensive back on a beautiful toe-tap to stay in bounds. Many forget that after Carr marched the Bulldogs downfield to tie the game with 38 seconds left, Nova came right back to complete three of four passes–despite a drop off the hands of Brandon Coleman–and set up a potential game-winning field goal for Kyle Federico who missed wide right. After Carr scored on the first play in overtime, Nova answered right back and was literally fingertips away from converting the two-point conversion to give Rutgers the win. However, the rollout pass intended for Coleman deflected off his hands and Rutgers ended up with the 52-21 loss in overtime.

Nova remained consistent, keeping the ball in the hands of his talented receivers rather than in the hands of the defenders through the next four games. After a pedestrian performance against Norfolk State, he started by completing all four of his passes with 44 yards, seeming poised for a career day before suffering a concussion. Despite the alarming injury, he came back just a week later and rose to the occasion at home against Arkansas. Even with limited protection where he faced constant suffocating pressure en route to being sacked five times, Nova stayed composed. He overcame that and the lack of a running game after Paul James went down with a lower leg injury, riding the offense on his arm to lead Rutgers back from a 17-point third quarter deficit. The key here was that he never folded, despite all that went against the Knights. The game was one more Arkansas play away from imploding to blowout status, but after Janarion Grant’s punt return restored the momentum, Nova seized the opportunity.

After an up-and-down performance at SMU where he turned the ball over twice in regulation on an interception and a late fumble that the Mustangs couldn’t capitalize on, Nova strung together two perfect throws for touchdowns in overtime to help the Scarlet Knights prevent an embarrassing upset. Nova squeezed a touchdown pass to Carroo between two defenders in the back of the end zone from four yards out in the first overtime–a pass that surely seemed as if it would’ve ended up as a double coverage interception. In the second overtime, after being dropped back for a loss of 12 yards, he found Carroo again on a third and 24 to match SMU at 49-49, before winning on Justin Goodwin’s 17-yard scamper in the third overtime.

These games all held as proof that Nova seemed to be on the verge of taking the next step. Due to some turnovers popping up here and there, there was hesitancy to make the claim that he was at the next level, especially after his second half meltdown in 2012 showing that it was too early to make the conclusion.

(John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger) Offensive Coordinator Ron Prince (left) and Gary Nova (right) talk over mistakes after his third interception against Houston led him to be benched.

(John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger)
Offensive Coordinator Ron Prince (left) and Gary Nova (right) talk over mistakes after his third interception against Houston led him to be benched.

But then came the perfect opportunity: a Thursday night showdown in Louisville, against the team that robbed Rutgers of a BCS berth. The team that seemed to hold his kryptonite in his two previous years.

Many expected Nova to seize the moment and take what was a very winnable game, but without an offensive line, it was hard for the offense to effectively move the ball anywhere on Louisville’s stout defense. Nova was sacked eight times and the running game never got going. When Nova’s -48 yards rushing on sacks are taken out of the team’s rushing total, Savon Huggins and Justin Goodwin managed just 60 yards on 17 carries. The offense shrunk to one-dimensional and became too predictable, leading to four interceptions where Nova looked exactly how he did when he took Papa John’s Stadium his freshman year.

The whispers of whether or not Nova had completely progressed from his “Tur-Nova” days grew louder. Then after his three-interception performance on Homecoming against Houston where he looked completely lost and confused, he was benched in favor of Chas Dodd. The whispers turned to boos and criticism rained down from New Jersey media outlets such as The Star-Ledger and online forums. The starting quarterback position that Nova thought was etched in stone with his name was now in jeopardy, with Dodd splitting first team reps and third-stringer Mike Bimonte receiving increased reps.

It seemed as if Nova got too comfortable. Since his days at Don Bosco Prep, he had everything served to him on a silver platter. Two undefeated seasons resulting in state championships with the best high school talent in the country. When he arrived here, he wasn’t expected to produce immediately, which pardoned his bad play. Last year he made obvious adjustments to improve his game, but ultimately fell off at the end. Of course, he was still only a sophomore, so the excuses were still logical.

But this time was different. He was now a junior captain. With two years of experience under his belt, he was expected to take the next step in the weakest BCS conference in the country. The past two performances to Louisville and Houston primed a situation for failure.

(Maddie Meyers/Getty Images North America) Gary Nova led a furious fourth quarter comeback against Temple two weeks back – how will he perform today?

(Maddie Meyers/Getty Images North America)
Gary Nova led a furious fourth quarter comeback against Temple two weeks back – how will he perform today?

The start foreshadowed another poor performance to a 1-7 team in Temple. The first 10 play calls saw Nova feeding Goodwin with handoffs and tosses. His first two pass attempts ended up incomplete which brought down showers of boos. He could have caved in. He had every right to. His team was down 13-3 at the half, and with Dodd waiting in the wings, it looked like Nova could have been pulled immediately after any turnovers.

But that was the key to his day: He didn’t turn the ball over. Time after time, he made the right decision. Rather than forcing passes downfield, he hit the checkdowns and finally flashed some mobility by moving around the pocket and scrambling for solid gains that kept the ball moving. The drives that he couldn’t finish the past two weeks against Louisville and Houston were finally being finished. At the end of the day, he completed 27 of 38 passes (71.05%) for 371 yards and three touchdowns, and of course, no interceptions. Even after Goodwin’s fumble inside the 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Nova regained a chance to get the offense downfield and win the game after a big stop by the defense. With no timeouts, he engineered an 8-play, 72-yard drive in 1:15, completing five of seven passes.

After being sacked for a loss of five yards with a fourth and 10 coming up on the Temple 33, Nova found Carroo for the clincher. With a jailbreak blitz in his face, Nova’s awareness to make something happen out of what should have been a sack in the matter of a split-second was a remarkable play in the game’s do-or-die situation. It goes to show what Nova is capable of doing at a high level and in the game’s biggest moments.

Going Forward

The question, however, still remains: Who is Gary Nova? To tell you the truth, we still don’t know. It’s unclear whether or not he is the quarterback whom we all saw light up Temple two weeks ago, because he can come back this week against Cincinnati and throw for three picks.

Gary Nova continues to face this identity crisis, and it is unsure whether he’ll ever be able to shake it. If he doesn’t gather some consistency in this final stretch as the 2013 season winds down, it’s going to be a long year when he faces the harder, better, faster, stronger defenses in the Big Ten next year. If that happens, while he will likely be at the top of all passing stats in the school’s record books, it will be a long, mediocre season for Rutgers–and one where they could miss bowl eligibility.

For now, though, while no one knows which Gary Nova will show up this week when the Bearcats come to town, expect to see a determined and an overall improved Nova. With Paul James reclaiming his starting running back role after almost two months on the sidelines with an undisclosed lower leg injury, assuming his game picks up right where it left off at full health, Nova’s game will subsequently expand as well. James accumulated 573 yards with six touchdowns in his first four games, which clearly helped Nova when you look at his 888 yards and nine touchdowns to three interceptions. With a consistent threat like James in the backfield, another element is added to the offense and takes pressure off Nova.

But it will be interesting to see who shows up, come Saturday. If it’s the misfit from the Houston game a few weeks ago, the season will hit turbulence before crashing and burning. If it’s the efficient leader we saw emerge last week, Rutgers and Nova can establish some solid momentum as they head into Orlando five days later against UCF and the last few games of the season.

So who will we see? Throw the dice and find out.

Rutgers’ Inconsistency Leaves Fans Puzzled

By Chris Morales

After sitting through yet another homecoming loss at High Points Solutions Stadium, fans of the Rutgers football team were left divided.  Those that held out hope were pleased to see a comeback win at home over Temple the following week.  The rest still remained skeptical about the future of the program going forward.

Welcome to fandom on the banks of the Raritan.

How will Rutgers fare next season in the Big Ten?

How will Rutgers fare next season in the Big Ten?

The uncertainty in the community is a result of the transition Rutgers finds itself in.  After years of competing in the Big East Conference, former athletic director Tim Pernetti headed a charge to move all athletics to the Big Ten Conference starting in the fall of 2014.  With the move in place, Outside the Lines broke a story on head basketball coach Mike Rice and his abuse of players during practices.  The event caused nationwide outrage and sent the university’s higher ups into a state of panic.  With no other options available, the university chose to start anew by firing both Rice and Pernetti for their involvement in the scandal.

To complicate matters, the university made the decision to hire former Louisville assistant sports director, Julie Hermann, to lead the athletic program into the future.  Hermann had been accused of mistreating athletes at Louisville years ago, generating headlines questioning her hiring at Rutgers.  With a new leader at the helm, Rutgers is competing in the American Athletic Conference this year before leaving to join the Big Ten.

With a year to transition, the football team has been the main focus of the athletic community.  In a conference that was believed to have few quality teams, Rutgers finds themselves 5-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play.  For fans, this level of play will not equate to success going into the Big Ten Conference next season.

“Rutgers was supposed to be at the top of this conference,” university junior Alan Meskin said.  “The team is so up and down, I don’t know how the team stacks up to the Big Ten.  I don’t feel good about it though.”

Being that the level of competition will undoubtedly get tougher for the Scarlet Knights, confidence in the football team is low due to the play on the field.  By in large, the consensus is that
the next few years for the football team are going to be tough.

“Just look at the schedule next year,” fan Eric Cuesta explained.  “Rutgers has to play some really good teams.  Can they beat Indiana? Maybe.  Ohio State? No way.”

With a conference slate that also includes Michigan, Nebraska, and Michigan State next season, the Scarlet Knights have their work cut out for them.  Although Rutgers is 6-6 against Big Ten teams in the past twenty-five years, results on the field need to change for those in the community to feel better about the state of the team.  One person who became a key focus has been head coach Kyle Flood.

Coach Kyle Food certainly faces some uncertainties and some questions from fans.

Coach Kyle Food certainly faces some uncertainties and some questions from fans.

Since his arrival at Rutgers, Flood holds a respectable record of 14-7 and led the Knights to a bowl game in his first season with the team.  Although Flood had a good first year campaign, fans feel that he is not disciplining his team as well as he should.  The unexpected withdrawal of defensive back Ian Thomas and recent DWI charge on defensive back Nadir Barnwell in the past few weeks alone has many in the community scratching their heads.

“What control does he have on that team right now?” fan Ted Peacock said.  “Players are leaving and others are getting in trouble.  Flood isn’t standing on much right now.”

Couple this with the lackluster performances in losses this season for the football team, and the community’s perception of coach Flood seems to be hindering.  Flood’s performance the remainder of the season may very well be the deciding factor for fans’ acceptance going forward.  One crucial decision that may also impact the team seems to revolve around one player and position in particular.  The biggest question mark for Rutgers is perhaps the biggest reason for fan concern.

Gary Nova, the starting quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, was once seen as the next great signal caller for Rutgers.  However, the promise that was once evident has now turned into inconsistency at any given turn.  His performances on the field have left many in the community wondering what may come next.

“I’m just not sure Nova is the answer for Rutgers going forward,” university junior Julie Bennett said.  “If he can barely keep up with Temple or SMU, I don’t want to know what he would do against Michigan or Ohio State.”

With both flashes of greatness and moments of sheer agony, inconsistencies may lead Nova off of the field for good.  At homecoming against Houston, Nova completed only seven passes all game and threw three interceptions.  After being pulled in the third quarter, backup quarterback Chas Dodd was left to pick up the pieces.  For the Rutgers faithful, perhaps the answer at quarterback may lie in one of two freshmen.

“With change coming so soon, why not put in Blake Rankin or Chris Laviano?” explains fan Robert Hay.  “Maybe you can find something to build off of going forward.  What does Rutgers have to lose at this point?”

With the second half of the season still to play, this Rutgers football team has the opportunity to turn their season around.  With an improved product on the field, perhaps the fans worries and perceptions will change in time to enjoy what will be an exciting season of Big Ten football next fall.  However, given the state of the team as it is right now, there seem to be more questions than answers for all fans.  Maybe the Jekyll and Hyde manner of this team can stop in time for a big turnaround.

Is that going to be good enough for fans?

For those that still hold out hope, it may be.  For the rest, they will have to just wait and see.

Welcome to fandom on the banks of the Raritan.

Rutgers Ready to Shock the World: 2013-2014 Men’s Basketball Preview

By David Servedio

Coming off a tumultuous offseason, Rutgers basketball is ready to kick off its season on Friday November 8th versus Florida A&M. Most people still can’t get over what happened last year with the Mike Rice “scandal”. The team suffered a miserable second half, winning just six of their final 12 games. The program had its leading scorer in Eli Carter transfer to Florida. Jerome Seagers left for Auburn, but decided he wanted to come back almost immediately. They also lost guard Mike Poole, forward Vincent Garrett, and center Derrick Randall to the situation. There has been so much going on around this program that many experts have picked them to finish near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference in its inaugural basketball campaign. I would say that this is just a result of outsiders not knowing this team’s potential, as I thoroughly believe the Scarlet Knights are much better than a last-place finisher.

Myles Mack is now front and center for the Scarlet Knights (photo: Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)

Myles Mack is now front and center for the Scarlet Knights (photo: Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)

Returning is the leader of this team and newly appointed captain, Myles Mack. The undersized junior point guard stands at just 5’ 9”, but has shown remarkable progression since his collegiate career began. From his freshman to sophomore year his shooting percentage rose from .387% to .480%. His free throw percentage rose 10% to 88%. He also saw his points per game average rise four points up to 13.6 a game. Many will argue that the loss of Eli Carter will be too much to overcome, but a lot of Rutgers fans would disagree. Carter had become a chucker, just throwing up bad shots, causing his shooting percentage to drop. He had become a detriment to the team, whereas Mack has taken on a real leadership role.

There is also Kadeem Jack, who is now a redshirt junior whose game improved dramatically in 2012. The Scarlet Knights also added JJ Moore from Pittsburgh and Kerwin Okoro from Iowa State. Not to mention the returning Wally Judge and Jerome Seagers. This team is flooded with talent at every level, and each of these players have improved significantly since their respective careers began.

So why should we expect anything less from this Scarlet Knights squad in 2013? We shouldn’t! They should once again progress and get better. There is also the man at the helm: ex-Rutgers player and former NBA player and coach Eddie Jordan. Jordan was on the lone Rutgers team to make it to the Final Four, the 1976 squad. He has the experience at all levels, along with the success and knowledge to bring this team together and lead them to a winning season.

Look for the Scarlet Knights’ 2013 season to be a success. I’ll go out and say they should be a shoe-in for the NIT tournament this year and to take it a step further, I’ll say there’s a chance they’ll be on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament.

Sure, these may be lofty expectations, but if you only expect little out of a team how can you expect them to be good? This team has all the right pieces, experienced players, an experienced coach, and a team that has been through the worst. There is nothing that can be thrown at this team that they can’t handle. I fully expect them to progress once again and have a shocking season that leaves all the critics and naysayers silent.

2013 WRSU NFL Mock Draft

Last night, WRSU had the pleasure of running our 7th annual NFL Mock Draft – where members of the sports department splits up into teams, each having 4 NFL teams to “play GM” and make selections throughout the 1st Round of the NFL Draft.

These selections are judged by a group of WRSU alums, all whom have participated in previous Mock Drafts when they were WRSU members. This year’s group of judges were Jason Goldstein, Joe Nardi and Ryan Uhlich, all who are now 2 years removed from WRSU.

The Draft:

1. Kansas City – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
3. Oakland – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
4. Philadelphia – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
5. Detroit – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
6. Miami (from Cleveland) – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
7. Arizona – D.J. Fluker, OT/G, Alabama
8. Tennessee (from Buffalo) – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
10. Buffalo (from Tennessee) – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
11. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
12. Cleveland (from Miami) – Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
13. New York Jets – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
14. Washington Redskins (from Carolina) – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
15. New Orleans Saints – Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
16. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
19. New York Giants – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
20. Minnesota (from Chicago) – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
21. Cincinnati – Eric Reid, S, LSU
22. St. Louis Rams – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
23. Chicago Bears (from Minnesota) – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
24. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis) – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida St.
25. Houston Texans (from Carolina via Minnesota) – Robert Woods, WR, USC
26. Green Bay Packers – Keenan Allen, WR, California
27. Atlanta Falcons – (from Carolina via Houston) – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
28. Philadelphia Eagles (from Denver) – E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida St.
29. New England – Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
30. Carolina Panthers (from Atlanta) – Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
31. Indianapolis Colts (from San Francisco) – Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas St.
32. Oakland Raiders (from Baltimore) – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

The Results:

1st Place – Dominic DiLeo and Dylan Morton (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco)

Dominic and Dylan secured victory, with  the judges applauding all 4 of their selections. They traded back with their Cleveland selection, gaining a 2nd and 3rd rounder in a deal with Miami, and getting an elite talent with Ezekiel Ansah at #12. Both the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati selections filled needs as well as added value with Shelden Richardson at #17 and Eric Reid at #21, respectively. The judges liked their decision to trade up with San Francisco to secure a pass-rusher in Bjoern Werner at #24, given San Francisco’s situation with an abundance of picks. 

2nd Place – Benjamin Yavelberg and Dylan Mruczinski (Oakland, Tennessee, Chicago, New England)

Ben and Dylan almost upended Dominic and Dylan for the title. Oakland started off by selecting Florida DT Sharrif Floyd at #3, but won over judges by trading into the late 1st to select the speedy Geno Smith at #32. Tennessee gave up its 5th  round pick to move up two spots from #10 to #8 for Dee Milliner, which the judges appreciated. Chicago earned an extra 2nd round selection from Minnesota by trading back 3 picks and still selecting Tyler Eifert, which the judges thought was a very shrewd move. The New England pick on the athletic freak Margus Hunt at #29, which Ryan, a Jets fan, hoped would not happen in the real draft. The judges viewed all of the picks favorably, but they could not compete with the value of Ziggy Ansah at #12. A solid 2nd place.

3rd Place – Mike Rivera and Brian Walsh (Arizona, Miami, Minnesota, Washington)

Mike and Brian started off with a Miami trade that worked out for them. They secured Eric Fisher at #6, who was ranked by some draft sites as the #1 overall prospect in the draft. They then went with another offensive lineman at #7, D.J. Fluker, with Arizona. Minnesota, which started off with 2 picks in the 1st Round, traded out with one, then moved up three spots to draft Cordarrelle Patterson with#20, who was ranked as the top receiver in the draft. The move to get Washington into the first round, a team that had no picks in the top 32 entering the draft, earned them a third place finish.

4th Place – Chris Morales (Buffalo, St. Louis, Denver, Seattle)

Chris did a solid job in his first draft according to the judges. He traded down with Buffalo and selected Chance Warmack at #10, and traded the Broncos out of the first round, which was rated highly by the judges. His two St. Louis picks, Kenny Vaccaro at #16, and and DeAndre Hopkins at #22, received different reactions from the judges, who liked the Vaccaro pick significantly more than the Hopkins selection. An overall decent draft by Chris, earning him 4th place.

5th Place – Ben Wolf (Detroit, San Diego, NY Giants, Atlanta)

The judges conceded that Ben had a very average draft, selecting offensive linemen Lane Johnson at #5 with Detroit and then Jonathan Cooper at #11 with San Diego. A lot of offensive linemen went early, and Miami trading up hurt San Diego’s chances at #11 of getting a good one. Both Alec Ogletree to the Giants at #19 and trading up 4 spots for a late-round pick to draft Marcus Trufant with Arizona were looked at as good moves.

6th Place/7th Place (tie) – James Stumper and Diane Quail (Jacksonville Jaguars, NY Jets, Houston, Tampa Bay)

James and Diane went with projected picks in their first 3 selections – Dion Jordan at #2 to Jacksonville, and Barkevious Mingo and Tavon Austin at #9 and #13 to the Jets. These were all received as average picks by the judges, but they stated that trading up for Robert Woods with the Texans at #25 was a reach.

6th Place/7th Place (tie) – Dylan MacKinnon (Philadelphia, Carolina, Indianapolis, Baltimore) 

Dylan had a strategy that was clear with most of his teams – trade down. As many times as possible. Carolina traded down 3 times,  gaining a few mid-to-late round picks and ending up with Jonathan Cyprien at #30. Indianapolis traded down for a 3rd and a 5th, taking Arthur Brown at #31. Baltimore traded out of the 1st round with an early Oakland 2nd rounder, gaining a 7th rounder. With the Eagles, Dylan impressed with his Lotulelei pick at #4, but earned a lot of head-scratches by trading up for E.J. Manuel at #28.

8th Place – Dave Servedio and Julio Prestol (Kansas City, New Orleans, Dallas, Green Bay)

The #1 pick is tough to make in the eyes of the judges, because it is pretty much a sure thing by the time the Mock Draft occurs. However, Dave and Julio did not help themselves with their other picks. Jarvis Jones was decent at #15, but Sylvester Williams at #18 to the Cowboys and Keenan Allen to Green Bay at #26 were rated as poor picks by the judges.

The 1st Round of the NFL Draft takes place tomorrow.

Do you agree with the judges decisions? Think someone else stole the show? Let us know how you would have ranked each team and why!

Introduction

Dear Fans,

You’ve listened to us call games, and report from the sidelines. You’ve heard us on KnightLine, SportsKnight and The Scarlet Fever Show. But why wait until the shows to hear our reactions? The same way you listen to us first on gameday,  make sure you check in here post-game for the kind of insight you can only get from the people closest to the teams.

The stories on this site are written by the members of the WRSU Sports team. Any feedback can be left in the comments, or via email at sports@wrsu.org.

Hope you enjoy!

Your Sports Director,
Benjamin Yavelberg

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