clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rutgers Football Game #6 Preview at Indiana

Rutgers returns to a place they have had mixed results.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Rutgers
Langan needs to complete throws.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Rutgers (1-4; 0-3) at Indiana (3-2, 0-2)

Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN

Kick-off: Saturday, October 12 at 12:01 p.m. EDT

Weather: 49 degrees, sunny with a 1% chance of rain, 8 mph winds

TV: BTN, Lisa Byington and J Leman, Out of market channel finder

Stream: Fox Sports App

Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas, and Anthony Fucilli - Rutgers IMG Sports Network: WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, XM 380. (WRSU 88.7-FM: Corey Jason and Chris Tsakonas)

Current Spread: Indiana -28

Against The Spread: Rutgers 1-4; Indiana 3-2

Series History: Indiana leads the series 3-2 since the teams joined the Big Ten.

SB Nation Indiana site: Crimson Quarry

Indiana Statistical Leaders

Passing: Michael Penix Jr. - 71 for 102 pass attempts, 69.6%, 809 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT; Peyton Ramsey - 55 for 74 pass attempts, 74.3%, 635 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT;

Rushing: Stevie Scott. - 281 yards on 76 attempts, 3.7 ypc, 4 TD; Sampson James - 49 yards on 24 attempts, 2.0 ypc, 1 TD; Ronnie Walker Jr. - 47 yards on 12 attempts, 3.9 ypc, 0 TD;

Receiving: Whop Philyor - 31 catches for 371 yards, 12.0 ypc, 3 TD; Peyton Hendershot - 20 catches for 242 yards, 12.1 ypc, 3 TD; Ty Fryfogle - 18 catches for 161 yards, 8.9 ypc, 0 TD; Donavan Hale - 16 catches for 283 yards, 17.7 ypc, 2 TD;

Defense: Reakwon Jones - 29 tackles, 0.5 for a loss, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions; Jerome Johnson - 23 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, 3.0 sacks, 0 INT; Micah McFadden - 18 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks

Kicking: Logan Justus - 18 for 18 PAT’s, 7 for 7 FG attempts, long of 50.

What To Watch For

Nunzio and Langan watch - Take 2

Well, most of us saw what we expected of the Rutgers offense last week, maybe even a little bit more. Several of our contributors have already pointed out that it’s basically a new season for this team starting with the offense and the biggest jump is often between game 1 and game 2. What can they do better?

Nunzio Campanile is a confident play caller and has a poor man’s version of the quarterback best suited to run the system he wants. Johnny Langan ran hard and threw the ball without hesitation, bringing the confidence this team needs as a pick me up. Maryland figured out the QB option by the second or third drive, but like every offensive concept, what is the counterpunch? Langan’s accuracy is questionable from the pocket, but if he can make up for it with good timing, route concepts, and his receivers winning 50-50 balls, Rutgers will be able to get some first downs with the threat of the run.

Pacheco AND?

Aaron Young? Kay’Ron Adams? Bo Melton? Raheem Blackshear plans to redshirt and is playing with the scout team now, so who will get opportunities alongside Isaih Pacheco both literally and figuratively? Campanile didn’t rule out the possibility of Isaih (a former high school quarterback) lining up in the wildcat, even inviting it. I don’t expect his former and current teammate Nihym Anderson will switch sides of the ball, so true freshmen Kay’Ron Adams and Aaron Young will likely get the most burn even though Young has showcased solid skills as a pass catcher. We also might see Elijah Barnwell get some carries if Rutgers can power the ball a little bit. Indiana has not forced many turnovers this year, so expect their coaching staff to really be emphasizing ball rips, strip techniques, and potential riskier plays than they have done earlier this year expecting to win this game easily regardless. So RU needs to protect the ball or else we could see a lot of garbage time.

Can the Rutgers offensive line get a little push this week in the run game? Or will the Scarlet Knights selectively chose defenders not to block? What positives can we get from the Scarlet offensive line?

Chris Ash, Head Coach. Andy Buh, D.C.

The cheers turned to boos after a strong start early in the game against his former program. The Rutgers run defense early on stifled the Maryland run game to the tune of negative rushing yards until late in the second quarter. Unfortunately a few big plays in the passing game started to loosen up the Knights. Late in the game, Maryland backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome led his team down the field methodically. To their credit though, RU tightened up and didn’t quit in their defensive red zone. Would Chris Ash have made a difference?

Unfortunately this week’s assignment is the opposite of last week, a team that prefers to throw the ball and has two more than capable quarterbacks to do just that. Starting QB Michael Penix Jr. missed two and a half games due to injury, but returned for Indiana’s last game against Michigan State. In his absence, two-year starter Peyton Ramsey was more than serviceable. Ramsey lacks the upside of Penix, but shredded the RU defense in the first half last year so Rutgers isn’t one big hit away from a major beacon of hope in this one. Running back Stevie Scott was a load for Rutgers to bring down a year ago and is the only IU back to have put up major yards this season.

As is the case for most teams reeling, Rutgers needs to be led by their linebackers as emotional leaders. The LBs showed heart last week, but simply didn’t have the speed collectively to cover the Maryland skill position players. Can they keep up with the Hoosiers or will we need to see changing tactics / sub packages?

Special Teams

Maryland’s special teams really outplayed Rutgers. Indiana’s special teams units are significantly more consistent than those of the Terps. Logan Justus is 18 for 18 on extra points and has hit all seven of his field goal attempts including a 50 yarder. Haydon Whitehead has averaged 43.9 yards on 19 punts. David Ellis has averaged 20.5 yards per kick return. Indiana is solid all around as you would expect of a team that is outperforming its talent level thus far this year.

Rutgers in just one game under Nunzio Campanile’s leadership blocked two kicks, but allowed a 100+ yard kickoff return touchdown. Two Justin Davidovicz field goal attempts were unsuccessful. Adam Korsak was more Adam Korsak lite than his usual. For Rutgers to build on much the rest of the year, special teams need to be excellent and win the field position battle every game. It’s going to be cold for a midseason game, so kicking and catching kicks may prove more difficult than earlier this year.

Why should I have hope?

  1. You shouldn’t, even if it is college football.
  2. Four of the five games in this series have been close, including two Rutgers wins. Indiana does not have infinitely more talent than Rutgers, although they are not down their top two QB and top RB.

Positives to hope for

Indiana is as healthy as any team at this point in the season, so things are not looking great for even the most upset minded Scarlet faithful. Instead, let’s focus on what signs of progress we might see this week.

  1. In a vacuum, it would be nice to see Rutgers special teams win their head to head matchups against Indiana.
  2. If Johnny Langan can continue to complete passes, the offense as a whole can continue to see individual players taking steps forward. My concern throughout the Ash era and immediate aftermath is too often the offense was not competent and therefore stifling the development that could be gained from game experience.
  3. Damon Hayes, Avery Young, Tre Avery, and company get their best test of the season. Can they win some of those matchups? Can we see some highlight material from the young safeties?

After this game, at least we will be halfway through the season!