Rutgers’ offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson met with the media on Tuesday afternoon and wasted no time addressing the elephant in the virtual room.
“Coach Gleeson will not be starting a QB controversy in this phone call,” Gleeson said. “Noah is the starting quarterback right now, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t evaluating it every single day.”
Gleeson, and Noah Vedral, had plenty to say about the offense of the Scarlet Knights as they prepare for spring practice. These practices will begin in March with the Scarlet-White game being played in April.
“I think it’ll be a lot more comfortable,” Vedral said on the offense having spring practice this year. “Having a true spring ball, we’re going to get to practice in the spring which we didn’t get. We were doing Zoom meetings. We want to be faster, bigger, stronger, more consistent in reducing mental errors, reducing turnovers, all that stuff, so I think there’s going to be a lot of ground made up this spring.”
Vedral played seven games in 2020 for Rutgers. He finished with 1,253 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions. Vedral added 193 yards and a score on the ground. Throughout the season, Vedral battled with an ankle injury that sidelined him for some time.
He is hoping that this is not the case moving forward.
“My ankle is doing a lot better,” Vedral said. “We’re making progress in the training room and hopefully going to be good to go for spring ball and I’m feeling better every day.”
In Vedral’s absence, the Scarlet Knights turned to Artur Sitkowski. He appeared in four games for Rutgers this past season, leading them to victories over Purdue and Maryland. Sitkowski threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Gleeson brought in the dynamic of the no-huddle offense to the Scarlet Knights in 2020 — and it worked well.
“I thought Art progressed really well,” said Gleeson. “One of the things that will be new to him, as opposed to for Noah for instance, is that Noah has played in a no huddle offense in his career before and this was kind of Art’s first pass at that. I think leadership is the biggest offseason goal out of all of our guys in the QB room and how do we lead our teammates. The second most important thing is how well do we operate our offense.”
Rutgers made exponential leaps as an offense in Gleeson’s first season. They averaged 339.1 yards per game, which was significantly higher than the 273.1 they averaged in 2019. The Scarlet Knights also put up 26.7 points per game and eclipsed that 20-point mark eight times in nine games. This is something that had only happened 12 times in conference games since joining the Big Ten.
Over the course of the season, we saw plenty of ups and downs play from the Nebraska transfer. Just look at the Illinois loss in Piscataway compared to the performance in the triple overtime loss to Michigan. This is something that will have to improve and Vedral is determined.
“Last year, I thought my play was inconsistent,” Vedral said. “I would like to be a lot more consistent as a quarterback and coach (Sean) Gleeson has been working with myself and all the other quarterbacks a lot on just being consistent and continuing to grow and never settle. We got a long way to go and we’re all ready to make that climb to make that push. We’re really excited to get a true spring ball and a true summer. It’s gonna be a lot more clear. But we’re really, really excited.”
Along with Vedral and Sitkowski, the Scarlet Knights used Johnny Langan at times throughout the season. Langan proved to be effective on the ground rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
Cole Snyder and Evan Simon have not been seen much on the field but they are players with high ceilings who are learning quickly.
“I’m really excited about their future,” Vedral said. “Both of those guys have a ton of potential. They’re really talented in their own ways. They’re continuing to grow like even we have weekly meetings with the position groups and their knowledge of the game has grown so much from last year.”
Rutgers took massive steps on both sides of the ball in 2020 and there will be more taken this fall. As of now, the quarterback position is not in question. Gleeson addressed how the coaches are always evaluating but it is hard to imagine that Vedral is passed on the depth chart.
The offense will have a full offseason together, in person, working with Gleeson in year two of the new system. This means that we could see even bigger jumps from this unit in 2021.
“We had some good momentum on the heels of the progress that we made this past year,” Gleeson said. “We are just trying to keep that thing going in the same direction. Whatever we have to do to win. I know yards per play, points per possession and I like the statistics as much as anyone else, but we just have to keep winning. What that means is and coach always talks about it, we just need to have a bigger number than the other team.”