Unit Breakdown: Rutgers Defense
One thing that defines Rutgers football this season is their strong defense. Ranked 14th in the country, the Knights D excels against the run and in keeping opponents out of the end zone.
- 11th Rushing Defense
- 25th Pass Efficiency Defense
- 4th Scoring Defense (Big East Conference Leader in this category)
- 2nd Big East overall ranking
Big East Conference Rankings:
- 2nd Total Defense
- 2nd Rushing Defense
- 1st Scoring Defense
- 3rd Passing Efficiency Defense
- 321.3 average yards per game, total defense
- 441 tackles
- 21 sacks
- 16 interceptions
Players to watch for:
- LB Khaseem Greene (SR)- Ranked 15th in the country for tackles, with 67 solo and 58 assisted, he led the Big East with an average of 10.42 tackles per game. He also has 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown. Out of twelve games this season, he’s had 10 or more tackles in seven of them.
- DL Scott Vallone (SR)- He has 34 loss yards, with 9 solo tackles for loss and 6 assisted tackles for loss.
Strategy for bowl game:
- Running Defense: Since Rutgers had one of the top rushing defenses at the beginning of the season, Rutgers will need to try to regain that spark against Virginia Tech. Players like Greene, Vallone, and junior Jamal Merrell are key to keeping the defense rolling.
- Pass Defense: At this time, Rutgers CB Brandon Jones’ status for the bowl game is not determined, after leaving the Louisville game with a lower body injury. This means teammates like Logan Ryan, who is currently ranked first in the conference and tied for eighth national in passes defended, may have to fill the void to stop Logan Thomas and the Hokies through the air.