Rutgers has to be on to the next one.
There is no time to harp on a one-score finish against No. 14 Michigan on Saturday afternoon. A 20-13 loss will have to be put in the rearview as No. 11 Ohio State prepares to come to Piscataway this weekend. That is the beast that is the Big Ten.
“I just think the Big Ten period, every week you’re playing in, what I think is, the elite conference in college football,” Greg Schiano said during Monday’s press conference. “What week isn't that? I like it very much to the NFL, my time there. Any team can beat any other team in this league on any given Saturday.”
There was plenty to be happy about against the Wolverines and there was plenty that needs to be improved — including some decisions made. The offensive line will be highlighted all week, especially with Reggie Sutton doing down for the year with a knee injury.
This was a unit that was a concern coming in. Despite some key returners, the offensive line remained a question mark and has performed well to this point. Raiqwon O’Neal and Nick Krimin have been anchors, as expected, but the loss of Sutton forces some youngsters to step up.
This begins with Troy Rainey. He stepped into the right guard spot in Ann Arbor and will have to build off that performance.
“It was very important that Troy stepped up in the game. We made the move with several guys, just to try to bolster the offensive line. I‘ve discussed it before that it was a position when we arrive here that we had to gather some troops. Just pure numbers we didn’t have enough,” Schiano said.
“We needed Troy and I thought he stepped up. It was his first game. He made a lot of mistakes but he also played very hard. Over the years, you just see it happen over and over again. If you play really hard, even if you make mistakes, you kind of fall into some stuff.”
Rainey committed a costly false start penalty when Rutgers was in the red zone with a chance to tie the game. This led to a missed field goal and the air seemed to be taken out of the balloon. Rainey and Hollin Pierce were featured on the right side of the offensive line and this brings more question marks heading into a matchup with the Buckeyes.
“Hollin is a tremendous story. Literally, the season gets postponed the new get started again. I come down the stairs and there’s this big guy standing in the parking lot,” Schiano said.
“Some of the coaches knew of him because coaches called on his behalf. All he did was come in here and lose the weight and work like a maniac. He looks up and he’s starting at the right tackle against Michigan. We have two young guys on that side and we just need them to get better every week.”
Isaih Pacheco rushed for 107 yards and gained over five yards per carry against the best defensive front that the Scarlet Knights faced this season. Noah Vedral continued to take care of the football and make the right decisions. The offense has found success in the RPO game and short passes as an extension of the run game.
This can be linked to the offensive line and the progress they have made. It is clear that they are doing some things well through four games and it will bet interesting to see how they continue to progress without Sutton.
“We’re making progress,” Schiano said. “It’s not close to where I want it to be, no but we’re making progress. Again, if you can continue to go in the right direction, eventually you’ll get it to where you want to be but we have a long way to go.”
The offensive line will have to gel quickly with the class of the Big Ten coming to town on Saturday. SHI Stadium should be ready for this matchup as fans believe this is the year to shock the Buckeyes.
“This is a college football team at an awesome university,” Schiano said. “I want our students to have something that they can come here and, first be proud of what e do on the field, but enjoy the day. We got a great student section. They’ve gotten here, we’ve had some early games. I like going through our warmups and seeing them up there. That’s what we need.”