Probably some good betting action yesterday if you took the under on Navy's total rushing yardage. The Scarlet Knights overpowered the Midshipmen defensive line to a tune of 284 yards on the ground from a valiant effort from Paul James, Justin Goodwin, and Desmon Peoples. Here's the best and worst from Rutgers-Navy:
Accolades: 3 players who got it done
Kevin Recio: I'm tempted to go with all three running backs for a perfect trio, but those two early fumbles from PJ were unlike him. Goodwin and Peoples did a fantastic job though, and definitely deserve recognition. I'm scared for James, though. The two backup backs are good, but the offense is less imposing without PJ in the lineup. No word yet on his status, so let's hope he makes a quick recovery. I'll give my third honor to Dave Milewski. He was in the backfield on most passing plays and came up with a huge forced fumble late in the fourth.
Dave White: Alas, I was at a BBQ and didn't see much of the game. YAY WE WON!
Andy Egan: Kemoko Turay made a huge impact on this game, even though he didn't play most of it. When he came in at the end, the pressure on Keenan Reynolds went nuts, and the Kemoko Dragon fought through some serious Navy holds to get hands on the QB. Steve Longa deserves a mention too - he was seemingly everywhere yesterday stuffing the Navy run game. Finally, Brian Verbistki, to whom Kyle Flood gave the game ball, clearly did a fantastic job playing the QB role on the scout team. Rutgers was definitely ready for Navy's run game, and that comes from effective practice.
Demerits: 3 players who can do better
KR: Anthony Cioffi...woof. He looked completely lost out there and blew coverage in the end zone to give the Mids a touchdown that put them within a score. Almost the entirety of the offensive line was just superb, but J.J. Denman had another bad holding penalty that negated a long pass gain. He definitely needs to continue to get reps to iron out those mistakes. The secondary struggled against a team not known for it's passing game, so pick any other defensive back for my third demerit.
AE: Kyle Federico once again missed a FG in a crucial spot, when he knuckle-balled a 42 yarder wide left. Cioffi got burned a few times by the fearsome (?!?) Navy passing attack. And for putting the ball on the ground multiple times, Paul James has to make a rare appearance in this space. Losing him to an ACL injury is an awful blow, and he looked great as usual most of yesterday, but the fumbles were a problem. Also, freshman long snapper Alan Lucy did not have his best game, and appeared to sail two snaps Mike Bimonte was able to control and prevent disaster.
KR: Easy one here. Fourth and 2 at the Navy 38, and Kyle Flood elects to go for it. Pounds the rock with Paul James, who proceeds to scamper for a ridiculous touchdown run, bowling over defenders on the way to the end zone. I REALLY hope he's not injured for a long period of time.
AE: Agree with Kevin, I love going for it on 4th and 2, and calling an outside run instead of pounding it up the middle. PJ bounced outside and took it to the house.
KR: Beginning of the second quarter, Rutgers has the ball at the Navy 3 yard line, knocking on the door for a TD. Fridge calls an end zone corner route for the six foot tall Janarion Grant, and Nova just sails the pass way over his head. Questionable call at best there, especially with the offensive line getting a great push into the Navy defensive backfield.
KR: I think this is the way every Rutgers fan wants to see the team play: a dominant rushing attack that keeps the game out of Gary Nova's hands with limited snaps for him. We now have enough games to see trends in the team, and the secondary still doesn't seem to be very good. Lots of open receiver running behind defenders, and Navy had plenty of drops that could have turned the tide of the game. Hard to win in Annapolis, so great to get a win.
DW: 7 point dogs against a team that hung with Ohio State for a while? And we won? I'll take that any day no matter how we play. Or rhyme. Either way... uh... yay.
AE: This was a great bounceback win overall, and I think Kyle Flood needs to get some credit for coaching this resilient, tough team and having them ready to go. The potential for a letdown after ttfp was enormous, and those concerns were amplified when the usually sure-handed PJ immediately coughed up the ball in the first drive of the game, leading to a quick 7-0 hole. The team never panicked and overall, played a very strong game. Love this dominant run game - where was this in the second half vs the nitty kitties? This is an interesting team one-third of the way in - they could easily be 4-0, but they are also a few plays away from being 1-3. I will definitely take 3-1, heading into very winnable home games against Tulane and Michigan.