Rutgers opened conference play with a tough loss against Iowa, but, according to statistics, we should have one. There is one glaring difference though; we turned the ball over. They did not. We had more yards, longer possession time of the ball, and we were equal in rushing yards. We were even better on third down. We should have won this game and I believe we would have if not for the unfortunate loss of Janarion Grant, whom was injured on his 76-yard reception that was nearly a touchdown.
With Grant out for the season, his loss will impact this team on offense and special teams and in the locker room. Here is to hoping for the best for Janarion both for his health and football career.
Drew Mehringer says that Grant is a huge loss to the offense and the locker room. Mehringer also said that his production does not just disappear; the other guys need to step into the role to make plays. He also acknowledged that the coaches need to put these players in a position to make plays too.
Drew Mehringer spoke to the media in regards to the state of the offense. For Chris Ash’s press conference, follow this link.
Robert Martin III
But, lets get to the backfield performance. As I said, Rutgers and Iowa both rushed for 193 yards a piece in this game. 106 of those yards for Rutgers came from their star back, Robert Martin. He carried the ball a total of 21 times, which gives him a 5.0 average per carry. This is back-to-back games that he amassed over 100 yards and averaged 5.0 yards or more per carry every game this season. That is really about as productive as you can get from a lead running back.
Justin Goodwin finally got back into the game and got himself some touches. He made the most of them as he gained 74 yards on 11 carries for a 6.7 average. One of these runs even went for 24 yards, which is always a wonderful thing for a running back to do. After not touching the ball against New Mexico and only three times against Howard, it must have felt good for Goodwin to get some touches and show the coaches he can carry the ball.
This week, it was Josh Hicks who got the short end of the stick. He only carried the ball 3 times for 7 yards, a lousy 2.3 yards a carry. We know Hicks can be productive, he just needs a few more carries. That is the hardest thing with a bunch of capable running backs, you got to spread the love and some people get left behind some weeks.
The remaining yards came either from our quarterbacks or on negative plays from the skill positions. Tylin Oden got some playing time yet again, this time in Big Ten play. He carried the ball 3 times for 13 yards, a 4.3 average. It is clear he is in there for experience and for running as he did not attempt a pass.
Chris Laviano got only 5 yards on 12 carries, a meaningless 0.4 yards a carry. Jawuan Harris got one carry and he went backwards 2 yards. Janarion Grant also had one carry, also going backwards for five yards.
Chris Laviano was the only quarterback to attempt a pass, as Tylin Oden only got his three carries. Laviano went 13/24 for 190 yards and a touchdown. He had a QBR of 32.8 and had an average of 7.9 yards a completion. While his completion percentage was finally over 50%, he still did not eclipse 200 yards passing and did not throw for more than one touchdown. Mehringer said that his accuracy is an issue and he is missing his targets high. Mehringer makes it perfectly clear that Chris is not up to standard but he is improving week by week and he is still the team’s quarterback.
Rutgers fans should be happy that he finally took care of the ball. He did not throw an interception nor did he fumble the ball. Mehringer made it clear that the Buckeyes are really good at returning turnovers for touchdowns so Laviano really needs to take care of the ball. He made it through one Big Ten game, can he survive the rest or even Ohio State and then Jim Harbaugh?
Is There Hope...?
This was a surprising performance from Rutgers. They went neck-to-neck with the defending Big Ten champions and nearly beat them. If Janarion scored on the play he was injured, or if Rutgers just completed one drive or made one more defensive stand, the score could be flipped in Rutgers’ favor. They outperformed the Hawkeyes and gives hope to Rutgers fans that we will win some Big Ten games this season and maybe go to and win a bowl game.
The real test is the next two weeks: Ohio Sate at the Horseshoe and then Michigan under the lights On the Banks for the Stripe Out. If we can compete in those games I believe we could muster up the victories we need for a bowl bid and have a respectable Big Ten record, moving us up the conference standings.
For now, let’s hope Janarion Grant is okay and receives an exemption for a medical redshirt, so he can return next season. Lets prepare for this weeks tough test. Lets go Knights, Beat the Buckeyes!