Noah Vedral has been the target of some harsh criticism since his three-interception performance in a 23-20 loss to Illinois on Saturday.
During his Monday press conference, Greg Schiano announced that the Nebraska transfer will start in Week 5 against Michigan.
“Noah is our starting quarterback,” Schiano said. “And I think I probably need to, from our standpoint at least, kind of settle things down a little bit.”
This is important to remember throughout the pandemic-shortened season that we are currently watching in 2020. The Scarlet Knights are in a complete rebuild. It was exciting to watch Schiano win his first game back and see the defense force seven turnovers against Michigan State, but it might have caused some expectations that should not have come up this quickly.
Should Rutgers have won Saturday against Illinois? Yes. They were favored and held a 10-point lead at two different times throughout the game. This is a Rutgers’ team that went 3-21 over the course of two years heading into 2020. In four games, the Scarlet Knights are 1-3 but Schiano has them trending in the right direction and that is what is important.
“We’re clearly in a developmental stage of offense, defense, and special teams,” Schiano said. “With everything that has gone on this year, without training camp and without spring ball, we can’t get the cart before the horse. But if you look at, even in this developmental stage offensively, we are performing better than anytime in the history of Big Ten football for Rutgers.”
In 2019, Rutgers averaged 273.3 yards and 13.3 points per game. Both were dead-last in the conference. This season, Rutgers is putting up 26.5 points, the most since joining the Big Ten in 2014, as well as gaining 329.5 yards per game. Vedral has completed 63.1% of his passes for 723 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Against Illinois, Vedral made some questionable decisions, especially late in the game. He turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter including an interception with less than two minutes left. The real question to sit down and ask yourself a few days after the loss is, what difference would Artur Sitkowski make?
In 2018, Sitkowski took over the starting job as a freshman and threw four touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Vedral was named the starting quarterback this season because of his experience playing within a fast-paced offense. At this point of the season, a change under center would not be the answer.
“To know where you are going, you had better know where you’ve been and where you are right now,” Schiano said. “That’s what I keep trying to look at. Where are we?”
This is important to remember during the second half of the season. The fact is, Rutgers is not where they want to be but they are far ahead of where they were last season. The expectation was to see improvement on the field and a chance in the culture. So far through just four games, it is safe to say that we have seen both.