The message was received with clarity.
In trying to drive home the point to his team, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano likened West Virginia running back Noel Devine to former NFL great Barry Sanders, and his players took it and ran.
“His change of direction, the moves he makes is unbelievable,’’ Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged said. “Coach compares him to Barry Sanders, and he can make some of the same moves. He can change direction and get to full speed within the first couple of steps.’’
Rutgers’ charge Saturday when it hosts No. 24 West Virginia in the regular season finale is to contain Devine, as difficult as it may be. He is second in the Big East in rushing with 1,232 yards, and combines quick feet with breakaway speed.
“He can fly. He can really fly, and he can change direction like no one else,’’ Rutgers cornerback Billy Anderson said. “We’re definitely going to be aware of where he is.’’
Devine isn’t the only concern for the Rutgers defense.
Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown has the ability to make big plays with his feet and arm, and tackling the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder can be problematic.
Brown has completed 176 of 272 for 2,013 yards this season, and has 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“He’s big and he’s strong and he can run well,’’ Lefeged said. “He’s around 230, and he has great feet, so it’s going to be tough for us, especially when he scrambles, just to get him down. We can’t just have one guy there. He breaks tackles, so we’re going to have to have multiple players there.
“He can throw the ball down field 70 yards, 75 yards, and I think he can also make all the throws.’’
Rutgers’ most likely bowl destinations appear to the Meineke Car Care Bowl (Dec. 26) in Charlotte, N.C., and the St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 19), according to sources.
In the ever-changing world of potential bowl destinations and matchups, South Carolina is slated to represent the SEC in the PapaJohns.com Bowl (Jan. 2) in Birmingham, Ala. The bowl is hesitant to bring Rutgers for a second consecutive year, which comes into play if Rutgers loses or Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati and takes the Big East's BCS bid.
If Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh to secure the Big East’s bid in the BCS, the Scarlet Knights could end up in the Meineke Bowl even with a loss to West Virginia. The desired matchup there is to pit Rutgers against Miami, where Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was an assistant coach.
Central Florida already accepted a bid to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl against the Big East representative.
Easy to notice
Anderson, a fifth-year walk-on senior, will be one of the players honored before the game, but then will have to change his focus quickly.
As the season progressed, his role in the defense increased, so much so he has become an integral part of the defense.
“My family has been saying how nice it is to see me out on the field,’’ he said. “It’s a good feeling. It’s a lot easier to spot one out of 22, instead of one out of 100.’’