Rutgers’ Football is one day away from the 2021 season kicking off! The Scarlet Knights were able to get through Spring ball and training camp for the first time since 2019. This is a good sign for a team looking to continue to improve upon a 2020 season that saw them finish with three victories in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights will open the season against Temple on Thursday night in front of a sell out crowd.
This preview series will take you through each position group and examine strengths and weaknesses of the team heading into the season.
We end our series here with the quarterbacks.
Position coach: Sean Gleeson
Key players returning: Noah Vedral, Evan Simon, Cole Snyder, Johnny Langan
What they did well in 2020: Adapting
The Scarlet Knights were attracted to Noah Vedral right away because of his ability to run a fast-paced offense. The Nebraska transfer had experience in this type of system and knew how to use his legs. Unfortunately, this led to an injury but Rutgers was ready with backup quarterbacks prepared to come in and play.
Let’s get back to Vedral quickly. He was named the starter early on last season and was the starter without question once again heading into Thursday’s season-opener. The quarterback room as a whole adapted well to a new system implemented by Sean Gleeson. When Vedral was forced to miss some time, Artur Sitkowski stepped in and gave the Scarlet Knights some big-time performances. With Sitkowski now in Illinois, it is up to some younger options to step up.
In the first depth chart of the season, Greg Schiano listed both Evan Simon and Cole Snyder behind Vedral. This means that neither one ran away with the backup job over the other.
“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.”
Neither quarterback attempted a pass last season but could be called upon in different situations this season.
Needs Improvement: Consistency
Vedral is at the beginning of this conversation. In 2020, he finished with 1,253 passing yards to go along with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Fans remember the fourth quarter of the Illinois loss in Piscataway and the mistakes that were made under center. Exactly one week later, Vedral turned in his best performance of the year against Michigan with 381 yards and three scores.
Some mistakes were expected by a new quarterback playing for a new team in a new system. Vedral struggled at times and this could change in his second season with the Scarlet Knights. This is a group effort. Rutgers returns a ton of production from last season and Gleeson is now more familiar with what will work offensively. For RU to take a step forward on offense this fall, Vedral has to show that he has developed into a more consistent quarterback.
What to Expect in 2021
This seems like as good a time as any to mention Johnny Langan. He is still listed as a quarterback but will be used in many different ways. Langan’s 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame makes him a physical ball carrier and blocker.
In 2020, Langan’s role became a bit predictable. He was used primarily as a ball carrier in similar formations. Langan attempted just 13 passes on the season but completed 10 of them for 92 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He also carried the ball 56 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns. This made Langan the second-leading rusher on the team. This season, it might not be as simple as just snap the ball to Langan and let him run. Rutgers might have him lineup as a tight end or receiver at times.
As for Vedral, the Scarlet Knights are hoping that he can stay healthy. The future may be bright for Snyder and Simon but in a perfect world, they are able to remain on the bench and continue developing. Vedral can help this offense take another step if he makes better decisions and remains on the field.
Rutgers is returning major offensive weapons such as Bo Melton, Isaih Pacheco, and Shameen Jones. This will help Vedral, along with an experienced offensive line. The quarterback is the most important position on the field. Vedral will have a chance to get comfortable and build momentum over the first three games of the season before the Big Ten schedule begins. It starts with a matchup with Temple at SHI Stadium.
Other Position Groups