How To Watch, Stream & Listen
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey
Kick-off: Saturday, April 14th at 3:30 p.m. ET
Additional Info: Block R Party/Kids Zone at 2:00 p.m. Gates open at 2:30 p.m. Autograph session after the game.
Weather: 80 degrees, partly cloudy
TV: BTN airing live - Chris Carlin, Eric LeGrand, and Kristian Dyer
Saturday’s annual spring “game” will feature modified situations and scoring, as well as being a scripted scrimmage with live tackling. So even though it won’t feel like a fall football Saturday, we might actually get more out of it as consumers of Rutgers Football’s progress heading into the 2018 campaign.
Here’s the top five questions I want answers to:
Who is getting reps at corner?
This one is multi-faceted. Damon Hayes was mentioned as getting some reps at safety which has several implications. Either more guys can contribute at corner or the safety depth is so bad, the staff knows that position is more important to have consistency than corner. At the very least, it’s good for Damon’s development to learn more skills. Hopefully some members of the previous recruiting classes show signs they can contribute even as a 4th corner in case of injury to one of the team’s top DBs. Rewind a year and I would have guessed Tim Barrow, but we shall see. There’s plenty of 3-star recruits in the group, someone will rise up.
Which quarterback / wide receiver combos have chemistry?
The number one thing that Rutgers needs to improve on is developing some semblance of a passing attack in 2018. I put this second on this list because a lot can change in the coming months as the pecking order is more “solidified”. As a midterm exam of sorts, I simply want to see Rutgers quarterbacks complete passes to someone when they drop back. I’m not asking for bombs or even explosive plays (though that would be nice.) Rutgers simply needs to have one human being be able to throw the ball to another human being. It’s difficult to build a house without a foundation.
With so many quarterbacks in the mix, it’s the opposite circumstance of a year ago. Perhaps Gio has good timing with Everett Wormley but not Mo Jabbie, for example. Maybe Artur Sitkowski can connect on deep balls to Bo Melton, but is out of sync with Travis Vokolek. So there’s a ton of possible excuses, but let’s see who figures out a way to get the job done. Since the staff is making this more situational, they should be more willing to take a risk for long plays because a negative play or turnover isn’t as impactful as a real game. What makes football so great is that there are always a million things that can go wrong, so it’s impressive to see who can buckle down and produce anyway.
Who is disruptive on the defensive line?
Ash indicated that much of the action will feature starters versus starters rather than starters versus backups as we often saw in prior installations. The staff seems confident in the first group, all who have played in game action before. After that, who can show a little something? A year ago, Julius Turner showed some quickness and that translated to the fall. The second string guys aren’t expected to be every down players and need to break into the lineup with some skill as a starting point. From there, they can develop to be more well rounded players, but there has to be some ability to create chaos early on.
Can the offensive line get a push?
The most maligned unit in the spring may come out with something to prove. That energy may be enough to show some push at the point of attack. There will be some moving parts, and the group is missing starting right tackle Kamaal Seymour, but the coaching staff and fans need to see something positive after hearing negatives in spring. Since they are going against defensive starters, it should be more representative than years past. Individual play may be scrutinized, but overall cohesion is paramount. If they can’t handle Kevin Wilkins, it could be a long day.
Who stands out? Is it Tyshon Fogg?
Spring game breakout players don’t always translate to fall success, (see Nakia Griffin-Stewart last year) but someone will do something that stands out to provide hope. Tyshon Fogg has been handed a golden opportunity with Big Ten leading tackler Trevor Morris sidelined with a dislocated elbow. Perhaps he shows something. Beyond him, rather than speculate, this one is about who jumps out without any predetermination.
Enjoy the game and the replay on Big Ten Network!