Looking to get back into the win column after a narrow defeat to Illinois, the Rutgers football team suits up this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to take on Michigan.
The matchup will be the second in a row for the Scarlet Knights (1-3, 1-3) at SHI Stadium. Rutgers' first win as a part of the Big Ten came in 2014 against the Wolverines (1-3, 1-3). The 26-24 victory on the Banks was followed by the sellout crowd storming the field.
Since former quarterback Gary Nova led the Knights to that victory, the team has started more than a half-dozen signal callers. So far this season senior quarterback Noah Vedral has been getting the nod, with junior quarterbacks Johnny Langan and Artur Sitkowski coming in for different situations.
Despite throwing three second-half interceptions last week, Vedral will get the start again. At his Monday press conference, Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano said, “Offensively we’re performing better than any time in the history of Big Ten football for Rutgers.”
Vedral is responsible for 723 passing yards and five touchdown passes.
Four of those touchdown passes were reeled in by senior wide receiver Bo Melton. He is the receiving leader for the Knights with 334 yards on the season.
Leading in the backfield is junior running back Isaih Pacheco. So far, Pacheco has notched 286 rushing yards and two touchdowns, which ties him for the team lead in rushing touchdowns. Rutgers has other options, including sophomore running backs Kay’Ron Adams and Aaron Young who have combined for 113 yards and a score this season.
Michigan’s ground gains have come from Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet. The duo has 261 yards and four touchdowns. Joe Milton has also been part of the running game, adding his own 117 rushing yards and touchdown.
Milton has thrown all but 11 passes for the Wolverine’s offensive this year, tallying 967 yards and four touchdowns to go along with four interceptions. Milton’s top target is Ronnie Bell. Averaging 81.25 yards per game, Bell and Cornelius Johnson are the only receivers averaging more than 30 yards per game.
Michigan has found the endzone five times through the air, with every touchdown evenly distributed between five receivers.
On the defensive side, the Wolverines have six sacks as well as a single interception and fumble. Carlo Kemp and Kwity Paye both have recorded sacks this season. Pacing the defensive with 31 tackles is Brad Hawkins.
A key part of the defense for the Knights has been senior defensive back Brendon White. Through three games White has recorded 21 tackles, an interception and recovered a fumble, but was sidelined last week due to an injury and his status is still unknown for this week.
Senior defensive back Lawrence Stevens played in place of White last week and made seven tackles.
“I think Lawrence did a good job filling in, especially for his first real time in our defense," Schiano said.
Entering Week 5, Schiano is ready to snap the Knights’ five-game losing streak to Michigan. “We are going to go out and play the best game we have all year against Michigan, and we are going to need to, to have an opportunity … to compete,” he said.
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