Rather than keep the pure report card, this hopefully regular feature will move us into the 21st century. Yes, I may have provided my own spin on a recurring series from some of our other SB Nation brethren, like Amazin’ Avenue. Below is how the Rutgers Football position groups fared in each of the last two weeks.
Rapid fire thoughts
Quarterbacks: Had it not been for the three interceptions, the QBs may have gotten the fireball in Week 1. Unfortunately the pendulum swung completely the other way in Week 2. I suppose you could be worse (see Maryland loss in 2018), but this still warrants the worst symbol in our rankings, the crying sad face.
Running Backs: The running backs proudly let the way in the Week 1 win and could have even gotten two fireballs the way Blackshear and Pacheco played if that was allowed. It was tough to score Week 2 so I gave, perhaps harshly, the so-so mark. They were successful when they did run the ball, but nothing game breaking. Blitz pickup wasn’t terrible, but nothing to write home about.
Wide Receivers: A case could have been made for fireball in Week 1 because Bo Melton was awesome and several others reliable. The quarterback play and play calling (that would make a great Wheel of Fortune Before & After) were somewhat to blame for their struggles in Week 2, but wideouts did virtually nothing to help their cause.
Tight Ends / Fullbacks: In the opener I almost gave a Red Cross with all the injuries, but Matt Alaimo made two key catches so I opted for passable at least. Against Iowa, we saw nothing good and it would have really helped to have a guy in there who could have ever blocked one of Iowa’s DEs for any period of time so the playbook didn’t have to shrink so much.
Offensive Line: The hogs up front kept the pocket clean and rushing lanes open against Umass. They gave a decent effort in the run game against the Hawkeyes, but broke down in critical moments in the pass game. A few poor rotations did in Art Sitkowski while some one on one matchups were lost that compromised McLane Carter on third downs.
Defensive Line: The defensive line did a solid enough job against the run in both games led by Willington Previlon. The difference was that against Umass they turned on some speed against the pass but had absolutely nothing to pressure Nate Stanley. Need to see more from this group especially the ends, though some can be blamed on play calling.
Linebackers: The LBs really turned it on against Umass as the game wore on, though were very vulnerable against running backs on check downs. They really did the job against Iowa and were the biggest reason other than Adam Korsak this game stayed close as long as it did. They brought some big hits to stop ball carriers in their tracks and set the tone, for a while anyway.
Defensive Backs: Avery Young played better but still has a ways to go. Damon Hayes went from flawless to three penalties. Tre Avery and Tim Barrow looked better. Malik Dixon, Jarrett Paul, and Christian Izien reduced mistakes, but the ones they did make were very, very costly.
Special teams: If you want to criticize the return game that’s fine. The rest of the special teams was on fire this week after an average at best effort in Week 1. Adam Korsak was on another level.
Coaching: With only a slight overall talent gap, offensive coaching gets the lowest mark available. Andy Buh did a pretty good job in the first half, but also did not show enough creativity with stunts and other movement up front to overcome the offense’s ineptitude that deserved the tearful level. John McNulty can and needs to do better.
The concern here is that the grades against Iowa look almost identical to what we had most of last year. Defensive back play has regressed after three players went to the NFL plus another multi-year starter departed. Really though, the defense overall is good enough if they were complemented by an offense who could do at least average Big Ten damage. The sad face in the QB box has to go ASAP or else we are in for another 2018 all over again, again.
We welcome your comments, many of which may revolve around what group was in your opinion, unfairly weighted down by the rest of the team’s performance in Week 2. For that, please vote in our poll below:
What grade was too harsh in Week 2?
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