A dreary 2022 campaign has ended for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights finished with a record of 4-8 having lost eight of their final nine games in Big Ten play.
In 2020, Greg Schiano returned for his second stint on the banks and the tenure has reached a new low. Now, this is not to say that the Scarlet Knights were expected to contend for a Big Ten title but a bowl berth was within reach. It is not the overall record that is as concerning as the way Rutgers performed from week-to-week.
Let’s begin in the non-conference. A Week 1 victory over Boston College was impressive at the moment — until we saw the Eagles turn into a mess midway through the season. Against Temple, the Scarlet Knights survived with a two-point win and this is where concern creeped in.
In Big Ten play, Rutgers scored 20 or more points just once. Lopsided losses to the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan were expected. Rutgers was shutout by Minnesota and Maryland, being outscored 68-0. The loss to the Gophers came after a victory over Indiana so the performance was even more disappointing.
Let’s not forget an abysmal performance against a Nebraska team that was battered all season long. This is the game that forced Rutgers to make a change at offensive coordinator and let Sean Gleeson go. At the end of the day, was Gleeson the issue? No. Both shutout losses came after he was gone but someone had to take the fall.
There was a glimmer of hope in 2020 after winning three games in a shortened season. In 2021, the Scarlet Knights were 5-5 in November. This year, there were no steps taken and it is hard to believe that some will in 2023 — unless there are improvements on the sideline.
Yes, it took Schiano time to turn Rutgers into a winner in the Big East during his first tenure. In the Big Ten, it is king to take much longer but it is time to start seeing some progress.
First and foremost, the quarterback situation was handled terribly from the start. All you have to do is think back to the first offensive series of the season. Rutgers had three different players take a snap during a three-and-out. The Scarlet Knights came into the season with a three-way quarterback battle. That is not the way to handle the position.
Noah Vedral was dealing with an injury early on and Schiano failed to name a starter between Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt. Neither had experience being the full-time starter but platooning the position was not the way to get anyone into a rhythm. When Vedral returned, he spent some time starting before Wimsatt took over toward the end of the season. What a mess. It is likely that Wimsatt is the starter for 2023 so at least he will know that going in and can prepare accordingly. This is something Schiano should announce early in training camp rather than keeping everything close to the vest. Clearly, this strategy has not been working.
Penalties and play-calling also must improve. The special teams unit did not have a coordinator. Outside of the defense, which was great at times this season, the Scarlet Knights regressed in many ways. Schiano has been a head coach for quite some time and still has plenty of work to do within the program.
Rutgers scored 17.4 point per game this season, which was 12th in the Big Ten. It was dead last in passing yards (153.9) and had the most penalties (94).
There are some aspects of the team that Rutgers can use to keep fans onboard and believe in 2023. Wimsatt is just a freshman, along with Samuel Brown V, who looked rock solid as a starter. The team was young and had plenty of inexperience. Also, they went through a change at offensive coordinator and will now have a chance to bring in the right candidate. It is important for Schiano to make the right hires and changes within the coaching staff.
With the offense and special teams struggling this season, penalties remaining an issue, and overall decision making going downhill, there is plenty to do in the offseason. Basically, the program on and off the field needs some changes and the 2023 has to show some significant progress.