Saturday’s 49 point loss to Ohio State was a bitter pill to swallow, but came from the same bottle Rutgers fans are used to the past few seasons. As after every game this season, our staff got together to discuss what happened and in this case, commiserate in the loss and look ahead to what’s next for Rutgers football.
Jim Hoffman: This was like a gut punch. Every year this game rolls around, and every year we seem to get the same result. The fact that we actually scored on the Buckeyes notwithstanding, it seems that we have not progressed at all against the team from Columbus. I’m sure the team and coaching staff is also disappointed by their lack of production in all phases of the game yesterday, and are struggling to take some positives from this debacle.
The only positive I can take from this game is that we have two very winnable games coming up over the next two weeks, and we can now turn the page on this game. No one really expected Rutgers to win, but most (myself included) hoped to see some signs of growth. Unfortunately, it was not to be in 2018.
Patrick Mella: Let’s face it Rutgers was never going to win this game but what we as fans were looking for was something different than we’ve seen the previous few seasons, yet it was the same if not worse, than those defeats when you factor in the Sitkowski injury. I understand Ohio State fields one of the most talent programs in the nation but even against their second and third stringers, Rutgers couldn’t muster up more than three points? A week after the same defense gave up. Top it off with seeing your starting quarterback and future of your program being treated like a tackling dummy and you’ve got what amounted to a total disaster. Listen, I’m going to watch whether they lose by two points or fifty and I think I keep realistic expectations. But games like these you just want to see your team not get embarrassed and unfortunately that’s what happened. But the fact remains that the game is over and it was never going to define Rutgers’ season anyways. Thankfully the next two months are all winnable games until that dreadful end to the season schedule. Let’s hope the Scarlet Knights have better days ahead of them.
Nick Kosko: I don’t know if it was the travel schedule in week two, the weather, the inexperience, the intimidation, lack of preparation, etc. Actually it could be all of those things but I’ll stick with lack of preparation. While I’m at it, the talent gap too. Rutgers looked all out of sorts for this one. I get it’s difficult to stop or even slow down the Buckeyes’ offense, but man, you have to do better than 52 points. Same goes for the offense. You’re not scoring 35, but at least get in the end-zone. I thought any result in this game with a score or two would be better than the last two games against Ohio State but I was dead wrong.
The Scarlet Knights went from one extreme to another in the first two weeks but there are some things that are facts in my eyes already:
-Artur Sitkowski is the future of this program and it was inexcusable to put him in harms way with seconds remaining in the first half of a lost game
-The WR group is not up to speed and I am not sure what has to be done to get them involved. The same goes for the coaching staff getting the TE’s involved. Jerome Washington is too valuable to waste (boy this sounds like last year). Travis Vokolek needs to be involved as well
-Man does the defense miss Blessaun Austin in the secondary or what?
It’s going to be a tough turnaround for Rutgers as they go on the road against a surprising Kansas team. The Scarlet Knights will have to treat this game like the entire season because a 1-2 record could send the season into a downward spiral.
Namrita Singh: obviously none of us was expecting a win but it feels like the team still hasn’t made any progress. I’m thrilled that they weren’t shut out yet again but really? Three points? That’s it? And they allowed 52. Lost by 49. And on top of that, they may have just lost Sitkowski for a bit, the future of this program, in the second week of the regular season. This game was just a mess and completely disappointing. Out of the past three losses to the Buckeyes, this one hurts the most. At this rate, how long will it take before they can beat Ohio State? How long will it be until they can compete?
Hopefully the next couple of weeks will be much better.
Aaron Breitman: Let’s call the loss to Ohio State what I think it really is....a reality check. We all hoped Rutgers had improved enough to be competitive against the Buckeyes this season and that thought evaporated before the end of the 1st quarter on Saturday. Perhaps Rutgers would have fared better later in the season, as this is still an extremely young team. Having injury issues, particularly in the secondary, so early in the season is a major concern, but it can’t be an excuse for how poorly Rutgers played in this defeat. The program is simply still far away from competing against the best of the Big Ten. Perhaps they can change that narrative in November.
In regard to looking ahead, this loss will only matter in a lasting way if Artur Sitkowski misses significant time due to the injury he potentially suffered on the last play of the first half. I blamed offensive coordinator John McNulty for putting him in harms way after it happened and if it cost this team their franchise quarterback for any length of time it will be a mistake that haunts the program the rest of the season. Hopefully, it’s just a strain or something minor.
Update: Ash said Sitkowski is listed as “day-to-day” at his Monday presser and avoided any significant injury. Phew!
Either way, Rutgers is staring a very winnable stretch of games ahead. Winning at Kansas, a game they opened as underdogs, is an absolute must and will officially put the Ohio State loss in the rearview mirror. If they don’t recover and lose next week, this weekend will be looked at when the wheels started to fall off. Hopefully, this team will show it’s pride and resiliency by playing their best game of the season so far, setting up a monumentally important three game home stand against Buffalo, Indiana, and Illinois. The month ahead should define this season, not yesterday’s embarrassing loss.