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An in-depth preview of the Rutgers offense

With one game in the books, Ben McDaniels has given us a teaser of what the offense should look like this year. What else should fans be expecting?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Focal Points

What is Ben McDaniels going to stick to the most? What players will he rely on?

The I-Formation

Rutgers ran almost every play out of the I against Norfolk State. Obviously McDaniels didn't want to, and didn't need to, show too much of their offense against an inferior opponent. That being said, a lot will be expected of Sam Bergen as a blocker. He is as resilient as they come and is clearly suited to carry the load at fullback. Leonte Carroo will be lined up wide as either the only receiver or opposite a guy like Andre Patton. The hope here is to draw safeties into the box to either commit to the run or to cover the tight ends. This can lead to Carroo being single covered and McDaniels being able to take the top off the defense every so often when he gets that favorable matchup. Check out Carroo's first TD:

One safety bites on the play action while the other one roams towards the tight end before realizing there are double seam routes. Carroo runs a perfect stop-n-go route which not many B1G DBs could cover. A good throw is a touchdown against any opponent.

Play Action

Rutgers will be running the ball down their opponents' throats, regardless of who is playing quarterback. If they establish a strong running game, the play action pass becomes even more deadly, especially in the red zone. Ben McDaniels favorite play seems to be PA Power O. He has twin TEs and a receiver on the right side. The X runs comeback route while the stong TE runs a corner route and the weak TE runs a drag. The QB is able to roll out to his strong side and have 3 options all running the same way as him. A perfect example of this is Hayden Rettig's touchdown run:

He has 3 receiver all open as well as 10 yards of open space by the time the defense bit on the run and he was able to roll out.
Once the defender in pursuit got lit up, Rettig had the option of waltzing in for a score or dishing it out to one of his 3 receivers. If Rutgers can run plays like this consistently, their red zone offense will become very, very good.

The Wrinkles

Not everything can be power runs and play action passes. What else is in store for the Scarlet Knight offense?

Bubble Screens

Ben McDaniels is certainly no Chip Kelly, but this is the first time that I have seen multiple successful bubble screens by Rutgers. The first one was a bubble screen to Paul James, the running back, who was split out wide. This look forces the defense to move a linebacker outside and if run successfully, can open the door to many new plays. The other bubble screen was one of Leonte Carroo's 3 touchdown receptions of the day, and he earned this one:

Carroo is lucky that it was Norfolk St and not a B1G team because the blocking on that play was atrocious. He is just too fast and strong to be taken down by that defense. However, if blockers don't get to their assignments and engage, this play will go for a loss more often than not.
There are too many tacklers in his way and too many blocks were missed. There are 7 defenders that could've made a play there but Carroo was just too talented.

Deep Ball

Rutgers should have plenty of options for the deep ball this year. They have do-it-all star Leonte Carroo who can burn you but at the same time get up and Moss you. Carlton Agudosi is 6'6" and corners will have a hard time getting up to his level. You also can't forget about the man with the grills who is the fastest player on the field and can make DCs regret not having a help safety. Laviano isn't exactly Chas Dodd when it comes to the deep ball (no sarcasm, Chas had a lethal deep ball), but Hayden Rettig should have plenty of arm strength to get the ball where it needs to be. Hopefully we get to see him stretch the field more against Wazzu.

The Personnel

Let's take a look at the top players in each skill position group

Running Back

Paul James: James is probably the best back on the team, and was silly consistent on Saturday. Every time he touched the ball, he was good for at least 5 yards. He has proven home run speed and was worked well into the fourth quarter without suffering any setbacks. If he is healthy, he is special.

Josh Hicks: Hicks led the team in carries, yards, and TDs against Norfolk State and is emerging as the top back on the team. I think Paul James is better, but they don't want to over work PJ and Hicks is always making plays. Hicks makes great cuts and is insanely powerful in the trenches as he never backs down from a defender. Simply put, he will be a star.

Robert Martin: I dare someone to find me a better third string running back in the country than Robert Martin. He is eerily similar to Hicks, and plays just as nasty. He has shown that he has no problem trucking a defender or simply juking around them. Martin's performance on Saturday proved how deep and special this group is.

Wide Receiver

Leonte Carroo: No words needed.

Andre Patton: In my opinion, Patton has emerged as the top receiver not named Leonte Carroo. He runs great routes, and has exceptional hands. His back-shoulder catch on a perfect throw by Rettig was Megatron-like and hopefully he can continue his always-improving play.

Janarion Grant: The man I call "Grills" has really blossomed into a true slot receiver. He is no longer a return specialist, and that is great news to Scarlet Knights fans. He ran a great route and had a great catch on a long passing play from Hayden Rettig that was ultimately called back for a holding penalty. Kyle Flood noted that he only dropped 2 passes in training camp and that was evident on game day. Grant has the ability to be an elite game-changer for Rutgers.

Tight End

Matt Flanagan and Co: Flanagan snagged his first career touchdown on Saturday, and ultimately became the only Rutgers tight end that I really know anything about. He ran good routes and is already a decent blocker. I can't really write about the other tight ends, other than they must be good blockers due to the scheme they are in. The group seems to be deep with decent players, which isn't too bad.

My Predictions

These are picks on who will lead Rutgers in major offensive statistics

Passing yards, TDs, Y/A, QBR, INT, etc.


Rushing Yards

1. Josh Hicks

2. Paul James

3. Robert Martin

Rushing TDs

1. Paul James

2. Josh Hicks

3. Robert Martin

Receiving Yards

1. Leonte Carroo

2. Janarion Grant

3. Andre Patton

4. Carlton Agudosi

5. John Tsimis

Receiving TDs

1. Leonte Carroo

2. Andre Patton

3. Carlton Agudosi

4. Janarion Grant

5. John Tsimis

Up Next: An in-depth preview of the Rutgers defense