Rutgers defeated Delaware 45-13 on Saturday to begin the season with a 3-0 record for the first time since 2012. They did it with an impressive first half performance that put little doubt of what the outcome would ultimately be. The offense had its best game of the season as they gained 493 total yards and the defense allowed just one touchdown despite some issues against the run. Here are three takeaways from the win.
Rutgers did what good teams do and that’s not let the underdog hang around. The Scarlet Knights didn’t allow the Blue Hens to gain confidence or belief that the glass slipper would fit in this game and that was important. I thought it was going to be a closer game and the way Rutgers started the game was the reason it wasn’t. The offense played its best half of the season and defense didn’t allow any big plays.
After Delaware made it 14-7 in the second quarter, the offense responded with a touchdown on the next drive. That was followed by a key defensive stop with Delaware unable to make it a one score game a second time during a trip to the red zone. The game began to slip away and the result was a halftime lead of 35-10.
Make no mistake, the No. 6 FCS team in the country has some legitimate players and most of the same roster led an 8 win Pitt team in the fourth quarter against their last FBS opponent. Rutgers came out focused and with urgency. It’s another sign of how well coached this team is and it was an impressive performance regardless of the opponent.
Noah Vedral Improving
It was a tremendous performance, as Vedral completed of 21 of 25 passes for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns. He connected with Bo Melton in one on one coverage for a 28 yard score where only he could catch it. Vedral then connected on a deep ball to a wide open Brandon Sanders for a 68 yard touchdown. He was poised and in command from the opening snap. Granted it was against an FCS team, but Delaware was a top 5 defense at that level in the spring with the same roster as today. Seeing Vedral make easy work of them was encouraging and a big positive. He played into the fourth quarter and is the clear leader of the offense entering Big Ten play. It’s important to acknowledge that he has improved in every game so far even as the offensive line continues to have issues.
Clean Football = Winning Football
Rutgers played its third straight game of the season without committing a turnover. They also only committed two penalties in the game. Through the first three games, the Scarlet Knights have zero turnovers and have only committed seven penalties. It’s the biggest reason that Rutgers accomplished it’s goal of going 3-0 in non-conference play. While next week will be a difficult task in the Big House against a Michigan team that appears much better than last season, there should be hope this team has a chance to make a bowl IF they can continue to play clean football.
Through the first three week of the season, it appears that Illinois, Northwestern, Maryland and Indiana are all opponents Rutgers could potentially beat. However, that won’t happen if the Scarlet Knights make mistakes. Clean football is the key to making a bowl game and its encouraging that this team has done just that to begin the season 3-0.