Rutgers fans should enjoy Mohamed Sanu wearing Scarlet while he still can. After the first quarter of his season, Sanu is well deserving of All-American honors. If poll voters didn't live in a bubble (*cough* Slaton and McFadden getting AA over Ray Rice, McFadden and KEVIN SMITH getting AA over Ray Rice *cough*), Sanu not only would be an AA favorite this morning, but he'd be on the Heisman trophy shortlist. Well done Mohamed, and good luck next year after you go in the first round of the NFL draft. Does everyone still want to move Sanu to safety? Now, if only some of Sanu's younger teammates such as Mark Harrison and Brandon Coleman could follow his lead and hang on to the ball for a change. Imagine where the offense will be (shades of 2008) when those throws start connecting.
If Sanu was the first star on the day, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti was the second. For those keeping score at home, Rutgers gave up no sacks yesterday. The Scarlet Knights are currently ranked 54th in sacks allowed per game, and their average is likely to go down moving forward. They only gave up a few coverage sacks/missed assignments against UNC, and the rest of RU's schedule doesn't have UNC's talent. Not just with the protection, but the play calling in general, yesterday was pretty much proof positive that almost everything bad from the past two years was Kirk Ciarrocca's fault. Not being complete garbage, Cignetti's schemes don't leave Chas Dodd at risk of decapitation on every single down. In fact, Cignetti's play calls are actively good, an overall asset to the football program. Well done good sir, and please, please, please don't follow Sanu to the NFL next year.
Offensive line coach Kyle Flood isn't completely out of the water yet, but the upgrade at offensive coordinator allows for a true measurement of his coaching abilities. Flood's super-athletic lines are very good in pass protection. The run blocking wasn't as bad yesterday as it was against UNC - Ohio isn't UNC, and Kaleb Johnson and Betim Bujari started on the right side - but it wasn't exactly good either. Rutgers is still paying for poor offensive line recruiting and talent evaluation in recent years, and still likely is a year away from this group being an active strength again. Flood should not be completely absolved given the continued run blocking issues, but overall Rutgers has a perfectly acceptable offensive line, and that arguable question mark entering the season is fairly low on the list of priorities right now.
Chas Dodd offered more positives than negatives yesterday. His big issue the first two weeks was having a high number of passes deflected, and being able to cut down on those helped key Sanu's monster day. You have to keep feeding Sanu the ball, but establishing other threats will be necessary moving forward. Some of the other WRs had drops, but there were also a few errant throws such as the interception. Dodd is about where you'd expect for the true sophomore. He shows an awful lot of promise, but is still trying to get a good handle on everything. Coach Schiano gave backup freshman Gary Nova a series in the second quarter, which was a bit of questionable timing, but Nova held his own. There was a bit of a scare later on when Dodd appeared to hurt his leg, but he was back in on the next series with no ill effects.
The running game was a mixed effort at best, showing significant improvement from North Carolina (albeit against a far-weaker opponent), but still being a work in progress at best. At least they were competent enough to make play action a real threat. Jawan Jamison showed flashes yesterday with excellent vision and patience, but was streaky, battling bouts of ineffectiveness. Savon Huggins continues to show a nose for the end zone, but tripped over his own feet on a play, fumbled twice, which Schiano certainly won't allow to continue. Jeremy Deering had one nice run, and Joe Martinek continues to be an asset as a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. You figure Rutgers will spread the ball around more next week with Syracuse likely blanketing Sanu. These guys and Cignetti did their jobs well, with Ohio's defense looking completely out of gas by the fourth quarter.
The defense had up and down moments yesterday. Prepping for Ohio is difficult because they can throw a lot of different looks at you. One week they're an option team, and then suddenly the Bobcats are spreading it out. Rutgers shut down things on the ground, but gave up repeated big play after big play through the air. Tittleton is 5'11 - why weren't there more deflections yesterday up front? Mike Larrow and Ka'Lial Glaud started at end, but Rutgers rotates so many players there that it didn't really matter. The big completions make you worry about Jeff Hafley's secondary a bit. There were a lot of holes in zones and single coverage against safeties. Part of that is to be expected with so much blitzing (the 3rd and 5 call at 13:17 left in the fourth quarter probably sealed the victory); another big caveat was that Ohio made a lot of ridiculous circus catches, which was in stark contrast to Harrison and Coleman dropping what should have been easy ones.
Lavon Brazill looked really good for Ohio, but that first-quarter TD catch really looked like it bounced off the ground. Not overturning it was understandable - it was ruled a TD on the field, and there wasn't incontrovertible evidence, but in rewatching the game right now, the final replay really makes it look like the ball bounces off the ground. Great, great catch though - one of a number of awesome Bobcat ones on the day (e.g., threading the needle right before halftime.) Speaking of right before halftime, the Ohio FG really looked like it missed wide right. Didn't ultimately matter, but why didn't the Big East replay crew take a look at that one? Syracuse-Toledo is getting all the attention today, with this one being ignored for the most part. Any chance the league issues an official statement, or do they let sleeping dogs lie?
- Bad San San Te returned yesterday, missing what should have been a chip-shot field goal.
- A fan collapsed in the stands with heart trouble, and was carted off by on-site EMTs. Still no official word on his status.