Greg Schiano stated prior to the season that the possibility of Rutgers using more than one quarterback was not out of the question.
Noah Vedral had been dealing with an injury all week and was listed as a game-time decision. Prior to kickoff in West Lafayette, Indiana, Vedral was seen grimacing on the sideline while warming up. The timing is unfortunate for Vedral, who turned in his best performance of the season against Michigan finishing with 381 yards and three touchdowns.
Enter Artur Sitkowski.
The Scarlet Knights turned to Sitkowski to make his 14th start of his career. Early on, he seemed to give the offense a lift. After falling behind 7-0, Sitkowski led Rutgers on two scoring drives in the first quarter that ended in a touchdown connections to Shaheem Jones. Sitkowski would finish 18-27 for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
The Scarlet Knights were outscored 16-0 on a safety and a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by Purdue. Rutgers entered halftime in a familiar position. They trailed the Boilermakers 23-13 but unlike recent years, there was some fight left.
Enter Johnny Langan.
On their first possession following halftime, Langan connected with Kay’Ron Adams for a 62-yard score to get within three. Langan connected on all four of his pass attempts for 95 yards and one touchdown but it was his legs that carried the Scarlet Knights to this victory.
Langan carried the ball 21 times for 95 yards including a six-yard gain on third-and-three to ice the game in the fourth quarter with 2:22 left.
This was a game where the Scarlet Knights showed some things that fans have not been used to. The Scarlet Knights outscored Purdue 24-7 in the second half to win a Big Ten game on the road. This season, there are a few aspects of the game that Rutgers has yet to show and we saw a few today.
First, Jones was able to step up on the outside. Purdue came in with a game plan to slow down Bo Melton and they did so effectively. Rutgers’ top weapon finished with just three catches for 31 yards. Jones was able to gain separation early on two first quarter touchdowns. He finished with eight catches for 88 yards.
Aron Cruickshank has great speed and finally broke off the big play in the third quarter. Momentum seemed to be back on Purdue’s side when David Bell caught an 18-yard touchdown to answer the Langan-Adams connection. This was until the ensuing kickoff.
Cruickshank fielded the kick at his own goal line and turned on the jets. He navigated his way 100 yards to the house to get Rutgers back within three. This was the play that seemed to get the game back on track.
This win improves the Scarlet Knights’ record to 2-4 on the year. In a strange and uncertain 2020 season, we have seen it all from Rutgers. There have been moral victories and disappointing losses over the last four weeks. Expectations have been up and down and so has the play on the field.
In this game, fans were reminded that Schiano has a plan and it is clearly working. Moving forward, there is a team in Piscataway that is going to compete any opponent they face.