Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction

3 of 5

Rutgers Darius Hamilton celebrates with defensive coordinator Joe Rossi after a hard hit on UNC quarterback Marquise Williams as Rutgers defeats North Carolina 40-21 in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field. 12/26/14 Detroit, MI (John Munson | NJ Advance Media for

Defensive Breakdown

Rutgers had a very bad defense last year in the Big Ten, giving up and average of just over 30 points per game. With the offense developing and rebuilding a bit this year, there could be problems with the same thing happening from the defensive side.

And things are going to be hard again because this unit loses six starters.

Starting on the defensive line, senior tackle Darius Hamilton will be the anchor for the unit and has superstar potential after six sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss last year, and he is back alongside sophomore end Kemoko Turay, who recorded seven and a half sacks as a freshman last year and his generated lots of hype going into this season.

The good news is a guy like junior Quanzell Lambert has tremendous upside and could easily fill a void on the line, and Djwany Mera and Julian Pinnix-Odrick also have a chance to be solid. Sebastian Joseph and Myles Nash have depth, and there are also seven freshmen on the roster, so by the middle of the season, the line should be better than last year.

At linebacker, the return of junior Steve Longa and senior Quentin Gause is huge, as those two were last year’s leading tacklers at the position. Unfortunately, T.J. Taylor was the only other returner and he is now out for the season. That leaves five new guys to fill the voids and provide depth, and that will be difficult, so expect a major drop-off here, even if the gap is narrowed as the season continues on.

The secondary also takes a hit with both safeties and cornerback Gareef Glashen gone, but cornerbacks Anthony Cioffi and Nadir Barnwell both played a lot last year, as did safeties Delon Stephenson and Davon Jacobs. Dre Boggs and Brian Verbitski also have experience, and there are seven freshmen in the rotation as well, including physical safety Kiy Hester, who was a 4-star rivals recruit that redshirted last year and could work his way into the rotation.

The defense overall is just like the offense: young and with lots of potential. As a result, expect the same thing to happen here, with the unit starting out very weak but slowly improving over time.

Senior Punter Tim Gleeson is also back, and while he is not anything special, he at least provides some consistency there where everything should be fine.

Next: Breakout Player to Watch