Giving Rutgers the red eye

Nearly three weeks to the day.

Just about 20 days.

That’s how long its been since the football team has played a game.

Lots of time to build rust, but on the other hand, according to coach Jim Leavitt, plenty of time to study up on the opponent.

“We’re really focused on Rutgers,” he said after Thursday’s light practice.

The Scarlet Knights, fresh off their 31-21 Homecoming win over Navy, are looking to remain in second place in the Big East, with their only conference loss coming from West Virginia 27-14 on Oct 8. On Wednesday night, the Mountaineers thumped Connecticut 45-13 on ESPN2, and they are continuing to slowly climb the polls and move closer and closer to that Big East BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl. Due to damage to the Super Dome from Hurricane Katrina, the Sugar Bowl is now being hosted at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

The Bulls are coming off a 31-14 loss at Pittsburgh, which Leavitt claims he is still not over. But he seems content to move on, and will with the likes of senior running back Andre Hall and junior quarterback Pat Julmiste.

Hall leads in most offensive categories except for passing, which is Julmiste’s, who has 728 passing yards and five touchdown passes. Hall, however, leads the team in rushing with 598 yards and has six rushing touchdowns, as well as receiving with 227 yards. Hall’s receiving total is 102 yards more than wide receiver Johnny Peyton’s total, but the sophomore from Dade City has three receiving touchdowns.

The Bulls’ three starting wide receivers – Amarri Jackson, S.J. Green and Jackie Chambers – all have a single-digit number of catches at nine, seven and eight, respectively.

USF faces a Rutgers’ defense that’s ranked 57th in the nation in total defense, but one that has held opponents to just 149 points in eight games, though only pulled out a 26-24 squeaker over the Huskies on Oct. 22.

The Bulls, on the other hand, have only scored three touchdowns in their past two games.

The Scarlet Knights are back to relying on quarterback Ryan Hart. The senior was pulled in the game against the Mountaineers for being ineffective, but has been back in the lineup due to the injury to freshman Mike Teel. Hart went 18-for-21 passing with 221 yards but no touchdowns against the Midshipmen on Saturday. He has 1,797 passing yards in seven of Rutgers’ eight games.

Keep an eye on: The Bulls’ defense. Still ranked 25th in the nation, USF brings names such as linebackers Stephen Nicholas and Ben Moffett and linemen Tim Jones and Terrence Royal, who all have a combined 118 tackles, 12 and a half sacks and nine forced fumbles.

Those four will have to deal with Rutgers’ running game, while 56th in the nation, still boasts junior fullback Brian Leonard, who has rushed for 2,174 yards and 23 touchdowns in less than three years.