USF faces a Rutgers team Saturday that ranks third in the Big East in passing yards, averaging 236 yards per game and more than 28 points per game.
Rutgers has put up these numbers, thanks to freshman quarterback Gary Nova’s performance this season. Nova took over as starting quarterback in time for Rutgers’ win over Pittsburgh, replacing sophomore Chas Dodd, and has a big arm and distinct pocket presence. He is 91-for-178 passing with 1,125 yards and nine touchdowns.
Another offensive weapon for Rutgers is junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Sanu has 731 total yards receiving, including seven touchdowns, and is averaging 10.4 yards per catch this season. He is also a threat in Rutgers’ “Wild Knight” formation, from which he’s thrown four touchdown passes in his career, including a 21-yard scoring pass against USF last season.
“He’s a really good player,” USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “It seems like he’s been around forever. The guy’s got 70 catches. That’s amazing to me, the differential between the rest of the team and the number of catches he has. Obviously, he’s their production, a little bit like (Cincinnati’s) Pead. We’ve got to know where he’s at.”
Coach Skip Holtz said Sanu is key to the Rutgers offense.
“Offensively, it starts with Sanu,” he said. “He’s (fifth) in the country in receptions. In a key moment, they’re going to find a way to throw him the ball. … He’s a great player. I give them an awful lot of credit because they’re getting the ball to their best players. Sanu is definitely a difference maker.”
According to junior cornerback Kayvon Webster, the Bulls’ defense will have their hands full Saturday with Sanu and Nova, but work over the bye week has helped.
“Practice went pretty good, just breaking on the ball and getting our hands ready for interceptions and just learning the (Scarlet Knights’) scheme this week,” Webster said.
Bulls beat up
Even though they’ve had an off week, the Bulls travel to New Jersey a little beat up.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Reshard Cliett (ankle) and sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Terrence Mitchell (concussion) are questionable this week.
Sixth-year wide receiver A.J. Love (knee), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Demi Thompson (back) and sophomore wide receiver Stephen Bravo-Brown (ankle) participated in practice Tuesday.