I sat for a few minutes earlier, trying to settle on a definitive theme of RU's 30-3 victory over Army. It's not necessarily a feel good triumph vindicating this year's squad return from the brink of doom. There's no need to expound at length over the vast intracacies of each season's wane and wax. Yesterday's game was a glorified scrimmage; hardly a practice unique to Rutgers in the 2008 college football landscape.
One thought about caveats of praise: they're like tiny daggers stabbing their intended victim in the abdomen. Greg Robinson is a "great guy". When Tiquan Underwood couldn't make a catch to save his life in September, he was a "great kid". As such, there's little use in pointing out the obvious in that every single Black Knight on the field yesterday will soon be serving in the military. Great, but they're still not a very good football team. Therefore, there's very little that a RU fan can take, in either way, from yesterday's contest. I'm happy they won, don't get me wrong. I just don't think that the game was particularly meaningful. However, again, I do wish it was played in September, which may have given the Scarlet Knights more momentum at that point.
I just watched the replay on SNY to confirm a few of the mental notes that I made yesterday, so here are a few brief thoughts on a very cold noon start.
Early in the second quarter, the game's officials made an egregious, inexcusable call. Art Forst (who has been looking better as of late, but similarly whiffed against Arthur Jones of Syracuse two weeks ago) gave up a sack of Teel to an Army defender, who subsequently forced a clean fumble. SNY replays showed that there were no quick whistles on the play, yet the referees somehow ruled that Mike Teel's forward progress had been stopped. That was an extraordinarily lucky break for Rutgers, even though I don't think Army had a prayer of ever making this a game.
It's not really worth complaining about, but I thought the personal foul call on Ryan D'Imperio was ticky tack. The holding and pass interference calls on RU were good.
The biggest red flag of yesterday's contest was, no question, the inconsistent play of Teddy Dellaganna. His kickoffs and punts were poor all day long. He did have bad weather (as every Giants Stadium broadcaster would say, "SWIRLING WINDS") to worry about.
Was Mike Teel's performance worth beating our chests about? The really telling information, for me, was reading this morning in the Ledger that Army was starting a 5'9 true freshman at CB. Make no mistake, Michael Crabtree piled up 459 yards this year in Texas Tech's first four games against the worst OOC schedule that you can possibly imagine. There's no sense in apologizing for playing well. Watching Kenny on some of those routes, or Shamar Graves on his wide open touchdown, the Black Knights simply did not belong to be on the same field as Rutgers.
Speaking of stat compiling, I understand why Schiano wanted to try to get Teel the school TD record yesterday. After the 4th quarter starts though, it's really playing with fire though. What if a key starter is injured? It would have been much better get Natale more meaningful snaps. He had three pass plays to work with, which was hardly enough time to get into a rhythm. After RU received the ball again, they reverted to merely running out the clock. I really wanted to see Natale get more reps, and I'm distressed that this is becoming a reoccuring theme. Greg Schiano seems more willing to play multiple backs lately, so why not give the backup QB some playing time in a blowout?
Watching the replay this morning, I truly despise the broadcasting team of Mike Gleason and John Cogemi, who made a myriad of mistakes. The entire shoddy production could use an overhaul. A good start would be bringing back Dave Sims for play by play duties next year.
The other big thing I took from yesterday was seeing how far construction on the stadium expansion has progressed in the open end zone. I don't see any way they can retreat from that at this point. Let's hope the faltering economy and slumping commodity prices lead to much lower bids for construction.
Oh yeah, you may have heard about Notre Dame losing yesterday. That significantly helps the collective bowl hopes of Rutgers and the rest of the Big East. In spite of my minimizing of RU's efforts yesterday, I do think the team is firing on all cylinders at the moment. I only wish they had been all season long, because this is better than a 5-loss team.