It was a beautiful day for a late November football game in College Park, Maryland. Mid 50s, sunshine, and nearly 22,000 fans, which for a Knights-Terrapins late November battle, is pretty darn good. Unfortunately for Scarlet Knights fans, the team left the offense back at the hotel. I jest of course but after watching Zach Wilson and the Jets set modern day offense back 50 years last Sunday, I didn’t think it could get much worse. And then Rutgers trotted out their offense, who managed to reach new lows today, totaling 135 total yards and not converting a third down until the final minute of the game.
In what has become a running theme all season, the defense played a spirited first quarter, responding to consecutive Rutgers punts by forcing two Maryland turnovers, both recovered by sophomore defensive lineman Wesley Bailey. Unfortunately the offense was not able to capitalize.
Quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and the Knights had four drives in the quarter:
- 3 plays, 9 yards
- 3 plays, 5 yards
- 3 plays, -2 yards
- 5 plays, 22 yards, including a 3-yard loss on a 4th and 1
After stuffing the Knights on 4th and 1, the Terrapins finally put together a decent drive at the end of the quarter, marching 50 yards down to the Rutgers 1. On the first play of the 2nd quarter, they would run the ball in from a yard out to take a 7-0 lead.
The Knights would respond with another less than inspiring drive, gaining a yard on 3 plays and running 54 seconds off the clock. On the Terrapins subsequent offensive possession, the Rutgers defense forced a 3-and-out, getting the ball back for the offense, who responded in kind with a 3-play, 9 yard drive, though they did manage to take a2:04 off the clock this time. All-world punter Adam Korsak pinned the Terps inside their own 20 but start quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to lead a 13-play, 82-yard drive, culminating in a rushing touchdown on 3rd and 1 for a 14-0 Maryland lead.
The Knights would look to try and get some points on the board and some confidence heading into halftime but were only able to muster one first down on a 5-play, 11-yard drive that resulted in another Korsak Punt. Maryland put together another long drive, this one 11 plays and 65 yard that resulted in a 33-yard field goal and what seemed like an insurmountable 17-0 lead heading into halftime.
3rd Quarter Action
Maryland opened the quarter with a 7-play, 75 yard drive that ended in an 8-yard rush for a touchdown and 24-0 lead. The Knights continued their offensive futility in the 3rd quarter, opening with a 3-and-out that netted 6 yards. The Terrapins would add two more field goals in the quarter for a commanding 30-0 lead heading into the final frame.
4th Quarter Action
Tagovailoa would fire a 27-yard TD pass early in the quarter to put the Terps up 37-0. On the Knights’s offensive side of the ball, Evan Simon would replace Wimsatt at quarterback for mop up duty and string together drives of 9, 17, and 32 yards.
Final Score: Maryland 37, Rutgers 0.
The Stats Don’t Lie
- Time of Possession: MD 39:10 | RU 20:50
- 1st Downs: MD 31 | RU 7
- Rushing Yards: MD 134 | RU 63
- Passing Yards: MD 379 | RU 72
- Punts: MD 4 | RU 10
The offense is downright offensive:
I’ve certainly been vocal about this ever since Sean Gleeson was fired as offensive coordinator after the game six debacle versus Nebraska but Nunzio is not the answer as OC. Campanile stepped in as Gleeson’s replacement, once again being a good solider and taking one for the team like he did when he served as interim head coach when Chris Ash was given the boot four games into the 2019 season. Unfortunately, Campanile was just way in over his head. Watching television coverage today of Nunzio running over to Schiano with a bewildered look on this face tells the announcers and the fans all we need to know. He’s not a realistic option at OC heading into 2023. When a 4th and 1 play-call is a pitch 4 yards behind the scrimmage against a stacked box with the play designed to run to the outside, it’s game over. Back to the drawing board.
Where do we go from here?
I would imagine there is gong to be a heart-to-heart conversation between AD Pat Hobbs and HC Greg Schiano about what changes need to be made this offseason so that Rutgers can run some semblance of a competent FBS offense in 2023. When Schiano fired Gleeson, he spoke of the offensive coordinator creating the type of complementary football necessary to win games in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, Rutgers didn’t play complementary football on offense and when Sam Brown V. went down with a season-ending injury, the offense truly regressed and the coaching staff had no answers to help replace his production.
The love affair with Schiano 2.0 is officially over and while it would take a monumental level of embarrassment and missteps to put the coach on the hot seat, the program absolutely needs to take major strides in 2023 on the offensive side of the ball. It’s not even about wins and losses for me. It’s about being competitive against the upper echelon of the conference and operating an average offense at the FBS level. If the likes of Kansas and Arizona can compete, why not Rutgers?
Schiano is an old, stubborn ball coach but he is going to have to suck up his pride and hire an OC who can bring in a competent, experienced quarterback to provide competition for Wimsatt and Simon and be ready to contribute immediately. Gleeson was Schiano’s hand-picked, 7-figure OC so It will be interesting to see how involved AD Pat Hobbs is with the next hire.
It goes without saying the offensive line was a huge disappointment this season in pass protection, though they did show promise at times in the middle of the season in the run game, helping Samuel Brown V. and Kyle Monangai grind out yardage against Big Ten defenses. Hopefully this unit stays intact, has learned from this season’s experience, and can be coached up properly in 2023.
Fortunately for Rutgers, the defense is in a good place. Despite being worn out and run down from a bruising Big Ten schedule and an offense that can’t possess the ball for any stretch of time, Joe Harasymiak’s unit has played inspired at all three levels - Aaron Lewis (who was sorely missed today and out with an injury) and a defensive line that got after the quarterback, Deion Jennings and a linebacking unit that flies to the ball, and a secondary that has been ball-hawking and sure-tackling all season with the Christians Izien and Braswell, Robert Longerbeam, Max Melton and a talented young group that can keep the team in games if the offense can actually score 20 points a game.
The offseason certainly looks to be a busy one with the most anticipated movement in the transfer portal ever. Coach Schiano and staff will not only be dealing with internal departures but will need to hit the portal hard in an attempt to field an offense that can compete in the Big Ten in 2023.