In the midst yesterday's debacle, I started thinking back to Mike Teel leading a glorious blowout win over Louisville not two years ago. Rutgers had helped push Steve Kragthorpe out the door, even if the Cardinals inexplicably waited another year before firing him. Maybe Louisville did Rutgers a favor in kind by helping push our football program in the right direction. Certainly, there is little else positive one can take from such a brutal, one-sided drumming that saw the Scarlet Knights dominated all game at the line of scrimmage.
I believe that the factors that led to a (likely) six-game losing streak and a 4-8 record are still fixable in short order, but RU needs to clean house and make the right staff hires with a certain loss against West Virginia looming. There is a wolf at the door draped in disparaging comments and hindsight, and in response Coach Schiano must take the necessary steps to keep the football program (and not to mention his own future job security) on solid footing. The biggest difference between 2010 and the Rutgers football of more than a decade ago is that there is no longer a complacency or acceptance of poor play. There will be pressure for change from all levels, and that is why a hypothetical turnaround is not just possible but probable.
Play caller Kirk Ciarrocca is the obvious scapegoat. That is less for poor calls than his hapless scheme completely failing on every conceivable level. As much goodwill as OL coach Kyle Flood has built up with an excellent past track record, it is increasingly hard to justify keeping him on after adding on yesterday's performance to two years of futility. Miami of Ohio led the nation in allowing 59 sacks last year, and Rutgers looks on pace to shatter that total with only one game to go. The only factor that could still save Flood is the possibility that the struggles can be attributed to being a poor fit with the feeble spread that Rutgers is running right now. There is little reason to be attached to former defensive coaches Chris Hewitt or Phil Galiano either in an offensive capacity.
Assessing blame on the defensive side of the ball is harder. This is a unit that clearly played better during the first half of the season, and has not been the same since the Army game. The Rutgers defense is predicated on attacking and bringing pressure up front. Of course they'll be cooked if opposing quarterbacks have all day to throw. Not only did Rutgers lose one of its best players, but not having any rotational depth up front has had a negative cumulative effect on the remaining players. If readers want to rage against the defensive coaching staff for a string of bad performances (excepting Syracuse, where their OC may well be as bad as Ciarrocca), that's fine. My inclination though is to give them a pass due the impact of having a terrible offense and losing Eric LeGrand.
Not only am I despondent over the loss, but SB Nation ate eight or so paragraphs that I had written about this one, mainly concerning the current state of the football program. Sorry, but I had little appetite to recap this one as is. I think at this point my efforts are better spent parsing through hypothetical lists of assistant candidates, as I'm sure most Rutgers fans are more interested in that than revisiting another forgettable game in what has been a miserable season. Yes, Bill Stewart has been known to be, er, more than charitable in gifting away wins in the past, but that would be overkill next week. Dear Santa, if you are reading this, what I really want under the tree this year is a shiny new offensive coordinator.