It's safe to say Rutgers fans weren't ecstatic with the program during halftime. The team had only mustered a 21-13 lead over FCS cupcake Norfolk State and the secondary may have been worse than advertised. However, all concerns were put to bed in one of the most dominating halves of Rutgers football in recent memory.
Rutgers usually runs on to the field led by the wild and energetic madman that is Jeremy Cole. However, Kyle Flood led the team out, arm in arm with Sam Bergen, Djwany Mera, Darius Hamilton, Quentin Gause, and Julian Pinnix-Odrick. They walked as a unit out on to the field, symbolizing the F.A.M.I.L.Y. that Rutgers is and how they are sticking together during this tough time. That moment gave me chills and reassured me that Kyle Flood is the man for the job.
What we learned on offense
Running game is legit
Not many offensive coordinators can pick and choose between 3 running backs as talented as the Rutgers trio. Josh Hicks overcame a slow start and finished with 118 yards and 2 scores. Paul James was a guaranteed 5 yards every time he touched the ball. Robert Martin was a beast in between the tackles and was wildly consistent as well. Even Hayden Rettig got in on the fun!
Ben McDaniels was as conservative as any Rutgers coordinator has ever been. He stuck to the I-formation for pretty much the whole game. Rutgers pounded the rock down the field on their first drive and capped it off with a touchdown pass from Hayden Rettig to TE Matt Flanagan. The tight ends will be key in this look and Flanagan looks to be a good option to catch passes. I'll have more on the offense in the near future, but expect the playbook to unfold a bit more against Washington State.
What we learned on defense
Yikes. Yikes. and Yikes. Norfolk State absolutely dominated Rutgers on their first offensive drive. There was constant miscommunication and too many receivers left wide open. In my game preview, I said that the DBs needed to step up. They didn't. This is going to be one of the longest weeks of their lives, having to prepare to have the ball thrown upwards of 50 times their way against Wazzu.
JPO is as good as advertised
Another thing I was anxious to see was the play of DT Julian Pinnix-Odrick. He was really, really good. He was constantly in the backfield and made a nice play to tip a pass, forcing a punt. Similar to Darius Hamilton, he won't put up big numbers, but if you watch him play, you will understand how important he is.
Play of the Game
Grills! Grills! Grills!
Player of the Game
Every time he touched the ball, he scored a touchdown. His stat line: 3 catches, 129 yards, 3 TDs. Oh yea, he only played the third quarter too. Not too difficult of a choice.
The team looked very shaky in the first half and they had me worried. Hayden Rettig looked sharp, but the secondary really didn't help him out. The defense locked up and the offense exploded in the second half. We will have more on the QB controversy and everything else in the coming days. Overall, it was a great win for the Scarlet Knights and hopefully they correct their mistakes for a big game next week.
Next Game: Washington State | Saturday Sept. 12th | 3:30 pm | ESPNU