Any fears about a trap game for Rutgers dissolved quickly on Saturday as the Scarlet Knights had a two touchdown lead before the start of the second quarter. The OtB crew breaks down the details as we revisit the Green Wave in Piscataway.
Accolades: 3 players who got it done
Kevin Recio: Good Gary Nova, Hooray!!! Nova did throw one interception, but it wasn't the most boneheaded of plays we've seen from him by far. He was 9-9 passing into the second quarter and finished a solid 14-21 passing and brings his season completion percentage to just about 64%, which would shatter his career percentage. Of course, three of Nova's four touchdowns went to Leonte Carroo, who just continues to showcase his ridiculous hands. For my third accolade, I'll go with L.J. Liston. Subbing in the for the injured Kevin Snyder, Liston helped lead a defense that got to the quarterback four times.
Bob Cancro: Kyle Flood. Okay, not a player, but he got this team ready to do what they needed to do. He deserves credit for that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, good Gary showed up. And we all should appreciate that. QBs get too much credit yada yada yada. Then the two-headed mini-monster of Peoples and Goodwin. No, they aren't the bruising runners that Paul Jamison is, but they got the job done when called on.
Andy Egan: Gary Nova is definitely one of them. His career has had a lot of ups and downs, but he is now RU's all-time passing TD leader, so have to respect that, and he was very efficient yesterday. The Desmon Peoples/Justin Goodwin combo also worked very well. They combined for 165 yards on 33 carries. No TDs, but some of that is a function of the passing game clicking, because we scored from far away. I'll go with D-Ham for my third choice. The Hammer contributed one of four sacks, and was a constant disruptive force. D looked nasty Saturday, and RU is now first in the COUNTRY in sacks, tied with VaTech with 21. Safe to say Coach Rossi has restored the Schiano-era aggression and swarming D, and I am thrilled about that.
Ray Ransom: SuperNova and Carrooooooo were on fire all day. Good Gary made throws all over the field, had a few key scrambles, and made 2-3 head-scratching plays for every 10 good-to-great plays. I'll take that performance any day. Carroo was just unstoppable. The guy has some of the best hands of any receiver we've had around here in a while and he sure runs good routes, doesn't he? Reminds me of Jason Avant when he played for Michigan. I'll go back to my homeboy Kemoko Turay for my third accolade. He was in the backfield all day, alongside Hammer 2.0 and could have had as many as 3 sacks if other Rutgers defenders hadn't got to the quarterback first. I love that his first sack was a combination of athletic ability and pure hustle. He's a great embodiment of the Swarm and Finish mentality.
Demerits: 3 players who can do better
KR: Hard to single out any one player from a great game by Rutgers, but Janarion Grant continues to be limited in kickoff returns. Tulane is plain bad in kickoff coverage, ranking 119 out of 128 teams in FBS, yet Grant couldn't find a crease. Sometimes it's not just the player who can do it all, as blocking has a lot to do with returns. But this was a perfect opportunity to get things going, but he still couldn't break one. Also, it's disappointing that the defense couldn't force any turnovers.
BC: Good Gary. Because he needs to find someone else to throw to besides Carroo. If Carroo starts getting doubled up, does Gary know the names of any other receivers? And a big thumbs down to Johnathan Aiken. Lots of people said it was a bad call, but his hit at the sideline was close enough that, under the new targeting rules, it is going to get a flag. In looking art it on replay, he is very close to a "launch" and an upward hit on the QB. He gets a flag, and that means a thin secondary is a bit thinner for the first 30- minutes against Michigan.
AE: Not much to critique about this game. This is nit-picking, but it looked like Kemoko Turay blew an assignment which led to Tulane's long rushing TD. His talent is ridiculous, but he is still learning the finer points of playing D line. I can definitely take this learning curve, given everything else he contributes and his limitless potential. Also, Nova had another illegal forward pass, yards in front of the line of scrimmage - that's a dumb penalty, particularly twice in a season for a senior QB with as many starts under his belt as Gary has.
RR: Agree with the boys that its hard to find fault in a complete victory like this, but I can't help wonder what happened to Tyler Kroft? The dude is an absolute matchup nightmare and was unstoppable last year. Is he injured? Has his role drastically changed in Ralph Friedgen's offense? This is the system that made Vernon Davis a star. While Kroft may not be on that level, he's got the tools to be the next big thing. What's going on there? Aiken gets the demerit based on a dumb play and hustler John Tsimis ran a sloppy route to bring out Bad Gary for a play. Hard to fault either for otherwise strong efforts though.
KR: Love the play-action deep in your own territory in the second quarter. It's wonderful to actually see Gary Nova go through his progression and find the second read, and doubly nice to see Kansas-transfer Andrew Turzilli find the end zone on the second longest pass play in Rutgers history.
AE: I like that Kyle Flood doesn't hesitate to go for it on 4th down. In the 4th Quarter, the Knights has 4th and 7 at the Tulane 34. That's a long FG to be comfortable with Federico kicking, so RU went for it, and Gary Nova scrambled 14 yards for the first down. Three plays later, Nova found Carroo in the end zone to go up 31-6.
RR: 4th down baby! I love Flood's decisions on 4th down. He has a great feel for the game and knows when to risk it. Schiano was so much more conservative, having Flood be a little bit more open to go for it is a breath of fresh air.
KR: Can't think of anything, so I'll use this space to rant about the terrible call on Johnathan Aiken. The secondary is already beat up, and losing Aiken for the Michigan game is a big blow.
BC: I agree, Kev, that there weren't a lot of issues to complain about. But I'll disagree with you on Aiken. And you know why.
RR: Tough to criticize the game plan. It was well put together and obviously took advantage of the talent disparity. As mentioned above, I'd like to see Tyler Kroft get into the mix, which may be a coaching change that needs to happen. We already have proven playmakers in Carroo and the backs. Redeveloping a dynamic pass catcher at the TE position will only serve to stress defenses even more going forward.
KR: Not gonna lie, it was nice to see the Knights take a 21-0 lead with the 2010 homecoming game fresh in my mind. Other than not being able to force a turnover, almost everything went right for the Scarlet Knights in this one. And if you think about it, if not for the Sherman Badie 86-yard run in the second quarter, Rutgers would have allowed a meager 218 total yards. It's the perfect game with a great chance for the program's first Big Ten win coming up this Saturday night.
BC: I said the same thing: score on your first possession, shut them down on their first. Make a statement to a team you should beat. Rutgers did. Turn the page.
AE: There was a lot to like about this game, and not a lot to critique. Rutgers was efficient, and put together a very complete game - both the offensive and defensive gameplans were very solid, and the guys executed. I also like that the injury report does not seem to have any significant new additions. Now it's B1Gtime baby!
RR: Sweet, sweet, revenge. This game was about as satisfying as we could have hoped for. I love the intensity the team brought to this one. You could tell they weren't looking ahead to Michigan and focused on the task at hand - getting ultimate revenge for the 2010 debacle. I think we can put that one to bed with this team beating Tulane for the undefeated non-con. As a quick aside, how good does it feel to go 4-0 as a new member of the Big Ten? Talk about representing well! Now, let's see if we can make some noise in the conference slate. It all starts Saturday with a huge blackout game against Michigan. Get there and get loud people!