NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
The Russell Athletic Bowl was the first game of the 2012-2013 bowl season to go to overtime, but it wasn’t much of a thriller. Both offenses were out of rhythm throughout the game: only one offensive touchdown was scored including in overtime, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova both struggled with accuracy and mistakes throughout the game, and a Russell Athletic Bowl record of 21 punts was set.
Thomas did nothing to help his sinking draft stock, while the defensive standouts were senior linebackers Khaseem Greene of Rutgers and Bruce Taylor of Virginia Tech. More detailed evaluations of each top draft prospect’s performance:
Rutgers CB Logan Ryan (Jr.):
- Lined up one-on-one against Corey Fuller on most plays throughout game
- Broke up pass 45 yards down right sideline with tight coverage against Fuller; however, possibly should have been called for pass interference, got hand on Fuller’s arm and was not turned toward ball
- Loops around right side of line on corner blitz, comes back into middle and stops Thomas on power run
- In position to make two consecutive stops in punt coverage, first punt re-kicked due to offsides penalty against teammate
- On multiple occasions, read pitch/short pass out to sideline, immediately reacted to play and attacked runner/receiver to make sound tackle
- Goes low to make tackles, hits runner soundly to take them down consisently, made a good number of tackles in this game
- Hit Dyrell Roberts as tunnel screen comes his way, broke up pass in backfield
- Very good at reacting to short throws, breaking on them to make a play to break up pass or make immediate tackle
- Takes out Fuller on slant over middle to force incomplete pass
- PENALTY: Jumps too early on corner blitz, flagged for offsides
- Very good one-on-one coverage on left sideline, able to break up pass about 20 yards downfield
- Fuller beats Ryan 21 yards up left middle seam for touchdown
- Unable to hold block against Alonzo Tweedy in punt block protection
- Slips in backfield with chance to make tackle off corner blitz, but teammates able to make stop because he redirected runner
- OVERTIME: Davis beats Ryan with inside position on 18-yard curl to make catch; three plays later, establishes inside position on Davis in the end zone, should have had interception on fade but drops ball
Overview: Ryan had a solid performance in what is expected to be his final collegiate game. For the most part, he shut down Corey Fuller in coverage, and he made sound tackles on running plays and short passes throughout the game.
He did not make the key plays late in the game, however, to preserve Rutgers’ lead: he was beaten on the game’s only offensive touchdown, and in overtime, he gave up the catch that set up Virginia Tech’s game-winning field goal, and later dropped an interception that possibly could have led Rutgers to a win.
Rutgers OLB Khaseem Greene:
- BIG PLAY: Tracks down Thomas to hit him in the end zone after missed snap, helps force fumble, then quickly goes from celebrating safety to scooping up loose ball for a touchdown
- In on two tackles in a row on second offensive drive — always around the football throughout game
- Reads run play to left side perfectly, blitzes directly off left side and causes runner to duck and take tackle for loss well behind LOS
- Solid run fill in middle to stop Thomas after 4-yard power run up middle
- At least three times in this game, came from opposite side of the formation to make tackle out at sideline to stop runner for short gain, once for 3-yd TFL — shows his ability to cover ground and make plays
- Lines up near middle of LOS on blitz, splits two blockers without getting touched and hits Thomas as he throws to force high throw on 3rd & 5
- Blows up fullback block which allows teammates to make stop up middle at line of scrimmage
- Made two special teams tackles in punt coverage
- Lined up wide of right tackle up on LOS, sees lane inside and slides over to rush through that lane and force Thomas out of pocket
- OVERTIME: Beaten off line by fullback in pass coverage on 2nd-and-goal, would have been touchdown catch if ball thrown well
Overview: Per usual, Khaseem Greene made plays all over the field in this game. Greene’s game got off to a big start, as he took advantage of a bad snap and ended up with a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown, and he continued to be productive throughout the game, especially in the first half.
Greene covered a lot of ground, making numerous tackles from across the formation, and even made two tackles on special teams. The only area on which he did not grade out well in this game was pass coverage: he didn’t make any great plays in coverage, and could have given up an overtime touchdown if the pass was well-thrown.
Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman (R-So.):
- BIG PLAY: Beats Antone Exum on 10-yard inside slant, continues to inside for 15 more yards then makes Exum miss with cutback and turns to right side and ends up with 43-yard gain
- Long strides, good acceleration and speed, changes direction well in open field for a big receiver
- Drops low screen pass
- Gets inside position, uses size advantage to box out Exum and makes catch on sticks to convert 3rd & 7
- Pass goes off his hands, ball a little wide left of him but still could have been caught
- Makes catch on short crossing route, turns upfield and stretches over tackle to convert 3rd & 7
Overview: Brandon Coleman only had a few catches in this game, but that was mostly a result of Gary Nova’s poor passing. Coleman made a big play in the first half, and displayed great athleticism for a 6’6” receiver. One area of concern from this game, however, were his hands: although both passes off his hands were poorly thrown, they were both catches he should have made.
Virginia Tech prospects are on page two.