Greg Schiano has been aware of the backup quarterback situation and had to make a decision on Monday.
The first depth chart has been released ahead of Thursday’s season-opener against Temple and a big question was who will be behind Noah Vedral? Evan Simon or Cole Snyder. It turns out that the answer is simple — both.
“They’ve done such a good job, both of them,” Schiano said during a Monday press conference. “We were hoping that it would play itself out and be an easy decision but literally each day it just made it harder and harder to make a decision and Sean (Gleeson) and I just decided, depending on the situation which I won’t get into obviously, but depending on the situation, one guy might be better suited for that situation if we had to go that way.”
Both Simon and Snyder performed well enough throughout the spring and practices to continue to be in consideration for the backup job. When scanning the depth chart, there is another glaring absence.
In the secondary, Christian Izien leads the way at safety with Avery Young next to him. Young started every game at cornerback a season ago but was the leading candidate to move to safety with Patrice Rene transferring in from North Carolina. Instead, it will be Tre Avery and Max Melton on the outside Thursday night.
Rene will miss the season-opener with an injury. Schiano did not disclose how much time he would miss this season.
“As far as Patrice Rene, he got an injury,” Schiano said. “We’re hopeful that he returns soon but he won’t be able to play this weekend.”
Along the defensive line, Mayan Ahanotu will have a chance to start the season. He joined Rutgers a season ago after beginning his career at Minnesota. Now, he has earned a spot and will have a chance to make an impact on the defensive line next to Julius Turner.
“When we took him as a transfer portal guy, really that was on the kid that I knew and coached in high school. I couldn’t tell you what he did at Minnesota. In the situation we were in and the situation he was in, I just feel like, you know he’s been in my home and friends with my twins so I’ve known this kid for a long time and I really loved coaching him in high school. He’s the same guy now. I don’t know what happened in between but he’s really playing well. He’s going to get the start and he’s really earned the start.”
It seems as though Schiano and defensive coordinator Robb Smith will get creative with their schemes on the defensive side of the ball. The core that they have bring great versatility and this allows the team to mix it up a bit.
This begins with Mohamed Toure. The sophomore led Rutgers with 4.5 sacks last season and added two forced fumbles and an interception. Toure is now listed as the backup defensive end but that does not mean that he will be a prototypical backup. The linebacker has been working out at defensive end and will have a chance to showcase at both.
“He’s going to play both,” Schiano said. “It’s just everyone wants a depth chart so we gotta put him somewhere. He’s gonna play both. He gives us multi-positional flexibility and that’s what ou want in a guy like that. Whether it’s first or second down or third down, we can move him all over the place. What’s happening with Mohamed is that he’s becoming comfortable enough with the scheme that he can learn multiple positions and that’s a big step for him.”
The offensive line looks as deep as it has in years. Raiqwon O’Neal and Nick Krimin lead the way for a group that outplayed expectations a season ago and will have to continue to improve. It is Brendan Bordner who ended up winning the right tackle job, along with Reggie Sutton at right guard and Cedrice Paillant at left guard.
Temple transfer David Nwaogwugwu and Bryan Felter add some depth on the bench. The Scarlet Knights need to be able to protect Vedral and lead the way for a rushing attack that should have some success with Isaih Pacheco and Aaron Young.
“I feel much better than I did when we started camp,” Schiano said. “Certainly not where we need to be but as long as we keep progressing, we’ll get there. That’s the charge to the offensive line — to Coach Aurich and his group of guys, just to get better everyday and I think they’ve met that challenge.”
The Scarlet Knights will kickoff the 2021 season on Thursday night against Temple. This is a matchup that could be a bit sloppy depending on the weather but the Scarlet Knights hold an edge. With Schiano playing in front of fans for the first time in his second stint, Piscataway should be rocking and the players should be excited to get the season started.
This was Schiano’s call to action for fans to brave the potential storm and fill up the stands.
“We’re excited about our fans — finally getting to play in front of our fans in out stadium and it should be a great atmosphere. You know, you hear all those things about the hurricane that is moving up. Look, we have to go win a football game and we need our fans to do it. Everybody get your rain gear out, your umbrella, whatever needs to get out. We need to pack that place and make sure we have that home-field advantage when we play at SHI Stadium.”
Below is the complete depth chart for Week 1 vs. Temple and video from Schiano’s game week presser.