Fans are understandably frustrated with how the season has gone so far. So why then would you subject yourself to watching a game that most people consider unwinnable for Rutgers? Well, if you’re at all interested in the future of the program or finding an answer to the multitude of questions about this team that still remain, you should give this game a watch. I’m not saying it’ll be a fun or easy game to watch, so for that reason, I recommend getting yourself some game day food, your favorite snack, maybe an adult beverage (if you’re of age of course), and sit back and relax. Below I’m going to give a few quick reasons why you should be interested in this game and the questions I’m looking to be answered.
Does the Jonathan Lewis era begin this week?
I believe it does but you may need to wait until the second half. The offense is in desperate need of a spark which Johnathan Lewis could provide immediately. He’s a massive quarterback at 240 lbs that commands a defensive coordinators attention, regardless of his lack of experience. Coach Kill clearly wants to be a run first team and the addition of Lewis in the backfield would provide another option to go to. Bolin is starting, but I expect to see Lewis get some snaps in the first half and ultimately take over going into the second half. Giving Lewis a full half to work with not only gives him some valuable experience, but also gives the coaching staff a body of work that they can review and improve on going into the bye week.
Can the defense continue to improve?
Much praise has been given to this defensive unit, most recently Urban Meyer, who touched on the amount of improvement that has been made in just one year under Coach Ash. This is a tough match up against one of the top programs in the country, but keep in mind the last time they faced a team of this caliber was against Washington, where they held their own into the third quarter before running out of gas. Following the Austin injury, my eyes will he glued to the defensive backs to see how they respond. Kiy Hester is coming off an impressive performance last week that included a pick six and Damon Hayes will now stepping into the void left by the Austin injury. I’ll be curious to see how this group responds.
Which Freshman will have an impact?
I thought Raheem Blackshear warranted more than one carry last week, after rushing for over a 102 yards at home versus Morgan State. I know we’re talking about vastly different levels of competition (especially this week), but I’d want to kick the tires a bit and give the guy a chance. He’s not a big bruising back like Gus Edwards, but I think when used in the right situations, he could be effective. Hunter Hayek also deserves a few more looks coming off a three reception game last week. Those numbers don’t fly off the page, but when they have gone to him he’s been reliable. That’s invaluable to a team that has struggled in the passing game.
I realize it’s difficult to get excited each week when the team is struggling the way it has been, but there’s a ton of things to watch for each week. Especially this one, because of the potential change at quarterback. The defensive unit has greatly improved since last year and while that might show in the win column, it’s a sign that it’s at least headed in the right direction. Save me a buffalo wing and stay classy OTB!!