Rutgers took care of business against FCS opponent Delaware on Saturday in a 45-13 victory. There were plenty of highlights in the game, as well as standout performances. An encouraging sign is that many of the most important players on the team had big games, which is a positive heading into Big Ten play next week at Michigan. Here is the group of Scarlet Knight players that stood out the most on Saturday.
The hopeful part about Vedral was mentioned in our takeaways article on the win in that he has continued to get better in each game this season. Saturday was likely his second best in a Rutgers uniform, only below the 400+ yard performance in the triple overtime loss to Michigan last season. Against Delaware, Vedral connected on two deep plays that were beautiful throws and his command of the offense was convincing the entire game. He finished 21 of 25 for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns.
It’s unfair to expect those type of numbers from Vedral more often, but if he can continue to get better each week that would be a major plus. In three games this season, Vedral has completed 72.5% of his passes for 606 yards while throwing for 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Statistically speaking, he has been extremely solid and how he holds up moving forward is arguably the key to the season for Rutgers.
Has any player on the roster benefited and improved more since Greg Schiano took over the program since Bo Melton? It’s a fair point to consider. Melton was at it again on Saturday as he had five catches for 121 yards that included a 28 yard touchdown reception and a 67 yard grab. He is clearly the most consistent receiver and best playmaker on offense on the team.
He’s built a great rapport with Vedral and has flourished under wide receiver assistant coach Tiguan Underwood. Melton has now scored 11 touchdowns, including 8 in the passing game, in his last 12 games since the new coaching staff arrived after scoring just twice in the 36 games prior to Schiano’s return. Melton moved into 10th place in program history in career receptions on Saturday with 128. For Rutgers to win in Big Ten play, Melton needs to continue to be an impact player.
Pop finally started to find a little rhythm at the end of the Syracuse game and it seemed to carry over some in this contest. He finished with 69 yards on 13 carries for an average of 5.3 yards per carry as well as 2 touchdowns, Despite having capable backups in Aaron Young and Kyle Monangai, Rutgers relies heavily on Pacheco to be the back they believe he can be. After a slow start to the season, Pacheco showed signs of breaking out in an even bigger way soon.
The Buckner transfer had a big game with 3 catches for 84 yards including getting wide open and taking a pass from Noah Vedral 62 yards for a touchdown. It was an even bigger play in the sense that Delaware had just scored to make it 14-7 Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights responded quickly and effectively on the next drive and imposing their will on the Blue Hens. He had just one catch in the first two games but after Saturday, Sanders showed he has the potential to be a factor in Big Ten play.
While Langan didn’t have the biggest day statistically speaking, what he did do on Saturday highlights how important his versatility is to this team. Amazingly, Langan didn’t have one rushing attempt and was 0-2 in the pass game from under center. However, Langan did have three catches for 42 yards, which is more than the 3 catches for 29 yards he came into the game with in his Rutgers career. Now that opponents have to worry about his rushing game, his ability to throw and his potential as a receiver, his versatility makes Langan even more valuable in the role he plays each week.
The Wisconsin transfer returned the first punt of his career for a touchdown on Saturday and was his fifth overall return for a touchdown overall. He led Rutgers with 151 all-purpose yards that included 3 catches for 26 yards and 10 yards on 2 carries. He also had a 38 yard kickoff return in addition the big return for a score. Cruickshank, like Langan, can play a lot of different positions and could end up having a major impact this season due to his versatility.
Turner along with Billy Taylor and Bo Melton played in their 48th consecutive game in a Rutgers uniform on Saturday. Turner celebrated with the first multi sack game of his career with two. He now has three sacks this season and also finished with five tackles against the Blue Hens. Turner is arguably the best Rutgers player on the defensive line and he is needed to play at very high level the rest of this season.
The transfer from Michigan had a big game statistically with 1.5 sacks to go along with 3 tackles. For Rutgers to challenge for a bowl game, they must develop depth along the defensive line. Players like Turner and Mike Tverdov need help and Lewis is starting to show signs that he has the potential to do that more regularly.