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Ray's Rutgers Ruminations

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Notes, musings and random thoughts from Rutgers' dominating victory over the Norfolk State Spartans.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The season is underway, with a decisive 63-13 victory over the Norfolk State Spartans. Cleaning out the notebook, here are a few things that jumped out at me in Rutgers' 2015 season opener.

  • No matter how you feel about Flood, great moment to start the game with the team walking out arm-in-arm. Say what you will about this team and this coaching staff, but they have circled the wagons and rallied around each other during the turmoil of the past few weeks.
  • The secondary is looking about as rough as you'd expect. Huge holes in coverage deep down the field, too much cushion in press coverage, and some suspect tackling. There's just no way this secondary is going to hold up in conference play.
  • On the flipside, the run defense looks scary good. The defensive line, minus its two best players, was in the Spartan backfield all day, with the linebackers flowing to the ball well.
  • Al Groh is quickly becoming my favorite announcer. Fun, knowledgeable and not afraid to go deep. Great game called by this team.
  • Likewise, special teams looked outstanding. Big plays, solid coverage and a number of near-blocks.
  • How fast is Janarion Grant? I think the big question is whether his Madden speed rating will be 99 or 100


  • Quote of the day, from Groh:

Dealing with this Rutgers defense is like buying furniture at IKEA. The deeper into it you get, the more complex it is. And they don't usually give you a manual to put it back together again.

  • Speaking of Grant, his kickoff return to start the second half was a big momentum shift. Teams and Defense came out fired up and pulled away in a hurry.
  • The run game was solid and steady all day. Not quite as many explosive plays as in the pass game, but a solid outing for the three main ballcarriers. Paul James looked steady after offseason knee surgery, though we may have to wait a few weeks before we really start to see the explosive plays that characterized his last two seasons.
  • In case y'all forgot, Carroo is an animal. The opening touchdown was all him. Laviano just threw it up and let big #4 make a play.
  • So, Rettig plays a cerebral, short-throw game with some QB runs mixed in while Laviano throws bombs down the field? What weird role reversal are we seeing here?
  • Love to see Longa helping up a Spartan running back after absolutely destroying him. That's the kind of Rutgers football player that I want to root for.
  • Great to see Cioffi making plays from the Free Safety position. He could be a big playmaker setting into a starting role after his offseason move from corner. Addition by subtraction?
  • Why is Turay coming off the bench? Is he nursing an injury? Watching him absolutely smoke the Spartans Offensive Linemen, he looks pretty healthy to me.
  • The hurry-up offense was nice to see. While there were a few hiccups getting it into rhythm, you can see the potential for this offense to put up points in a hurry. The fact that Laviano (to me) seems to operate at a faster pace could explain why he's in a position to start ahead of the strong-armed Rettig.
  • I always wondered if Carroo was really that good, or if he just had a supernaturally close connection with Gary Nova from their formative days as high school stars in  Jersey. Turns out he's just a bad, bad man with something to prove.
  • Everyone will wax poetic about Carroo's receiving performance, but if you take a look at his blocking, he might be the best blocking receiver you'll ever see. Technically sound, extremely strong at the point attack and exceptional effort. Enjoy watching this guy ball, Rutgers fans. He's one of the greats.
  • The Quarterback battle moving forward will be fascinating. Rettig has all the talent in the world with upside to spare, plus moxy and charisma in spades. Laviano is quietly becoming a strong all-around quarterback, with quick-twitch decision making and a calm determination that seems to drive his teammates. It's going to come down to who can perform against top-tier competition in pressure situations, something we just haven't seen yet, and may not see until week 3 vs. Happy Valley Community College.
  • Overall, a great day of football. A nice come-from-behind-sorta victory, great performances across the board and a lot to build upon. Most importantly, it feels like a lot of wounds healed today, doesn't it? Here's to football season, Chop Nation!