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How the Rutgers offense succeeds in the brutal B1G East

The Scarlet Knights' offense has made great strides in 2015 but will face stiffer competition in the coming weeks.

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Making Strides

Let'e be honest, in week 2, about 99% of Rutgers fans were up in arms with the offense, specifically Chris Laviano. I was astonished that Lavinao completed nearly 80% of his passes given that he looked like Matt Saracen in his sophomore year. The passing game was as vanilla as I've ever seen, with a good deal of passes going to the tight ends and fullback for limited yardage.

However, as Rutgers gears up for Indiana, the offense is looking as good as it ever has this year. Chris Laviano played the game of his life against an elite defense. Paul James ripped off the longest carry of the year against an elite defense. Janarion Grant began getting the ball in creative ways. Leonte Carroo was Leonte Carroo. This was what optimistic Rutgers fans envisioned the whole season.

Stats and Graphs

The Rutgers offense has been just good enough in 4 of 5 games this year. Take a look at these graphs from and see if you can spot an outlier:

Against Penn State, the worst performance of the year by a longshot, there was a glaring difference in the ratio of passing to rushing attempts. If you look at the bare stats, Rutgers rushed 32 times for 43 yards. However, factor out QB sacks (which shouldn't count towards rushing stats), and Rutgers rushed 23 times for 80 yards. This is roughly 3.5 YPC, which isn't awful. 3.5 YPC is enough to establish a decent enough run game to have a controlled passing game.

Clearly, Ben McDaniels was scared to run the ball against Penn State. Since the beginning of 2014, Rutgers has run about 70 plays per game. In my unqualified opinion, they should run the ball at a 40/30 ratio.

Against any given B1G team, Rutgers should gain at least 400 yards of offense. Ben McDaniels would love to see a 200/200 split, but I see more passing yardage with Leonte Carroo back in the fold.

In order for Rutgers to succeed against the slew of great defenses they face, they will need plenty of big plays.

In order to get big plays, they will have to be more aggressive. Check out this breakdown on Rutgers' plays by down:

Rutgers is running the ball at a 2:1 ratio on first and second down and on 3rd down it is an inverse ratio. Smart teams will pick up on this trend and stack the box.

On first down, Rutgers is averaging 6.47 yard per play when they run it. When they pass, they average 9.37 yards. If I'm Rutgers, I take more risks on first down considering the offense is averaging nearly 3 more yards when they pass.

On second down, they run the ball twice as much but gain nearly twice as many yards when they pass.

I don't necessarily need to see 40-yard bombs to Carroo every time, but how about intermediate routes and bubble screens to get Laviano into a groove. Then, unleash Carroo and let Laviano go bombs away. Use the intermediate routes on first and second down and not 3rd and long. Against Michigan State, we saw how bubble screens can catch the defense off guard on 3rd down.

It is time to get creative.

Final Rant


Rutgers has played 4 games at home, in front of their OWN FANS. How the hell have they had 16 false starts. Through 5 games, Rutgers has committed 20 inexcusable penalties (false start and illegal formation). A false start is inexcusable since the offense knows the snap count and all they have to do is not move. The offense already has the edge on the line because they can anticipate the snap.

Illegal formations drive me batsh*t as well. This is as simple as bad practicing. The coaches need and players, without a doubt, should be on the same page with offensive formations. All the players should know every play and where to line up. Once again, being on offense, you have an edge on the defense and there is no reason to be lined up wrong or move at the same time.

I am fine with a couple of holding penalties since that happens on every play. The real issue is dumb penalties that have no reason occurring. There is no blaming the refs for those one; that responsibility is on the players and coaches. This better get fixed soon.