These numbers are so much better. 375 yards in total rushing offense. Those are much more satisfactory and even exceeds any expectations I would ask out of a run-game. It is pretty funny, though, how most of those yards came from either a Quarterback or a Receiver.
First, since I will be quoting his presser, here is Offensive Coordinator Drew Mehringer's press conference from yesterday
I will start with the every-day running backs. Robert Martin finally saw the field this season after nursing a sore hamstring last week. He ran the ball 15 times for 82 yards which is a stellar 5.5 yards a carry. He looked like what we thought he would be, and he did get the start over Justin Goodwin. If Martin can keep his yards per carry average above 5 again, the Scarlet Knights will be in pretty good shape.
Mehringer said that Martin did have a great week of practice following his injury. He said his vision was great in the game and he did a great job but the decision to start him was a tough one following the performance of the backs both last week and this week. Coach Ash also said that going into the Howard game he and the other coaches felt it was necessary to get the ball in Martin's hands as he could get big plays for the offense.
Speaking of Justin Goodwin, he only carried the ball 3 times for a grand total of 13 yards. This averages out at 4.3 yards a carry. That is not an awful number, but I think it is safe to say that Martin is this offense's premier back. We will see if Goodwin's carries increase this week against New Mexico.
Josh Hicks carried the ball more than Goodwin did, speaking to the coaches praise of his performance last week against Washington. He carried the ball 7 times for 44 yards, averaging out to an impressive 6.3 yards a carry. Time will tell if Hicks will stay ahead of Goodwin in the carries department, but it sure seems clear that he deserves it. He is running the rock with a purpose and moving the sticks. Mehringer said that he does think that Hicks had another great performance and will continue to get carries.
We even saw a little bit of Trey Sneed again this week. He surpassed Goodwin in the carries department with four, but he only ran for 13 yards, a 3.3 average. While the numbers were not great for him, you should keep in mind it was garbage time and Tylin Oden was running all over the Howard defense, so I think Howard was ready for the run game when Sneed got the ball.
The leading rusher for the Scarlet Knights this week was none other than Janarion Grant. He carried the ball only 6 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He could not be stopped that afternoon as he scored a kickoff return touchdown on top of these rushes. Having an average of 17.7 yards a carry is absurd to even begin to fathom. I think Mehringer needs to get Grant the ball some more whether it be in the Wildcat or the backfield or via passing plays. No matter which way, it needs to happen.
Grant won the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week and Coach Ash started off his press conference congratulating Grant on his accomplishment. Ash also said they will continue to get Grant the ball in a plethora of ways, which is already evident by the first two games of the season.
Chris Laviano even got some action in the run game with 7 carries for 24 yards; a 3.4 average. For someone like Laviano, that is not too terrible. As for his passing game, well, it was frustrating at times and beautiful at times. He went 11-22 with three touchdowns and an interception. The drive which led to the tying touchdown caught by Andre Patton included some errant throws that should have been touchdowns if he threw them properly. Nonetheless, he got the ball to his guys and moved down field and threw that gem to Patton for the score. Later on, he threw another great ball to Carlton Agudosi for another score. Before all of this though, the quarterback through a tipped ball interception to put Howard in position to go up 14-0, which they did.
After the interception, Laviano did calm down and he did throw for the 137 yards and three touchdowns. I would like more yardage in the passing game to free up the running game a little more, but, overall, I cannot say much about Laviano's performance other than he was lucky he did this against an FCS team because he really was mediocre and made some bad decisions.
Mehringer, in his post game presser Saturday, said that Laviano had an okay performance and said in his presser today that he is still standing by it. He believes he could play better overall and that he needs to work on his technique. Ash also said that ball security and decision making remains a large concern with Laviano and they will continue to work on that in practice and games.
Backup Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno got his first time on the field, and, boy, did he make it count. He kept the ball and took off with a 42 yard touchdown run that included some beast-mode-esque broken tackles. He did not attempt a pass but he did get the rushing attack some great additional numbers.
Then, with ten minutes left in the game, in came Freshman Quarterback Tylin Oden. Oden did not complete a pass but he did run the ball 9 times for 55 yards which comes to a very impressive 6.1 yards a carry. The fact that Ash gave Oden all of this playing time is great for a young Freshman new to a whole world that is college and college football in a power five conference.
Ash knowingly burned Oden's redshirt by playing him in this game. The only way he could preserve his season of eligibility is through a medical redshirt. This means that we should be seeing some more Tylin Oden in the near future. Ash really wants this kid to develop in the passing game and the running game and be able to lead this team sooner than later. It is safe to say that Oden really impressed with his legs and fans and the coaches are excited to see more of what this kid can do.
Mehringer said that he and Coach Ash have not discussed Oden's role or his future for the season, but they plan to talk this afternoon at a staff meeting. He did mention that there is development needed but that Oden is a great leader and worker.
Coach Ash said he did not want to throw the ball with Rescigno or Oden as there was no need to considering the score of the game. He just wanted them to work on the running game and their involvement in it as well. I think these quarterbacks did a pretty good job getting involved in the running game as they combined for 100 yards rushing.
Mehringer also said that fourth quarterback Zach Allen has made it clear throughout his career as to what he can and cannot do. He knows he has been in big games and they know what they can get out of Zach in those games so the experience really was not necessary this week.
To sum it up, 375 yards and three touchdowns are great running numbers for any team no matter whom the opponent may be. Add in 137 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game and Rutgers had a great day on offense. They gained 512 yards of total offense. I hope Martin and the O-Line can keep up the good work allowing for Hicks, Goodwin, and even Grant and the quarterbacks space and time to get yardage with their legs. Hopefully we can replicate these numbers against a "real team" in New Mexico on Saturday.