The annual Big Ten Media Days are among us. With the 2022 season kicking off in five weeks, coaches and teams are preparing for training camp. Before taking the field, the 14 head coaches in the Big Ten must take the podium to discuss the current state of their program.
The Scarlet Knights are entering the third season Greg Schiano 2.0. Rutgers will be looking to clinch a spot in a bowl game for the second consecutive season. This time, it might have to be the old-fashioned way. The Scarlet Knights landed a spot in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl when Texas A&M was forced to pull out of the game.
Schiano will bring punter Adam Korsak, safety Avery Young, and tight end Johnny Langan with him to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. There are plenty of questions to be answered on the field and these three might top the list on Wednesday afternoon.
3. Can the offensive line find consistency?
No matter what team it is, there is great importance for Big Ten squads to compete in the trenches. For Schiano, this was clearly a point of emphasis in the offseason after lacking depth in 2021.
Schiano landed seven recruits along the offensive line in the Class of 2022, including one of the top players in the state, Jacob Allen. Rutgers also added four transfers that have a chance to contribute right away — JD DiRenzo (Sacred Heart), Willie Tyler (Louisiana Monroe), Curtis Dunlap Jr. (Minnesota) and Mike Ciaffoni (Colorado State).
Reggie Sutton will return after suffering a season-ending injury in 2021. The offensive line for the Scarlet Knights will finally see some competition and enjoy depth. Neither have been present for quite some time. This is not to say that this unit is completely fixed but any improvement will help the quarterback play and rushing attack.
2. Will the defense make up for some major personnel losses?
Olakunle Fatukasi is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tyshon Fogg, Mike Tverdov, Tyreek Maddox-Williams — all gone.
There will be significant changes to the defensive unit for Rutgers. This means some players will have to step up.
Deion Jennings and Tyreem Powell are among those with experience who will get a crack at an extended role. Of course, newcomers will gain plenty of attention once they hit the field. Khayri Banton was one of the huge gets for the Scarlet Knights in the Class of 2021 and will make an impact when he gets a chance.
Moses Walker, the highly-touted linebacker, suffered a torn ACL that will cost him the 2022 season. The same can be said about Mohamed Toure, who underwent surgery back in June. Despite this losses, Rutgers will have plenty to look at on the defensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to see how it plays out leading up to the season-opener.
1. How will the quarterback battle play out?
And finally, fans are waiting to see how the Scarlet Knights will handle the most-important position on the field.
The short answer is that Rutgers will implement a two-quarterback system. Both Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt will see plenty of action this season. The question is, how will the playing time be split up? Also, will the season reach a point where Rutgers turns full-time to its highest-rated quarterback in program history?
Vedral has spent the previous two years as the starter for Rutgers after transferring from Nebraska. Last season, Vedral finished with 1,813 passing yards and seven touchdowns to go with seven interceptions. Wimsatt saw action in four games, highlighted by going 7-for-16 for 30 yards during the bowl game.
There are plenty of storylines heading into the 2022 season. Recruiting is always of interest, the path to six wins for Rutgers will be a curvy one, but the situation under center trumps them all.
It is obvious that Wimsatt is the quarterback of the future but as a freshman, he might not take the reins full-time. Either way, Sean Gleeson will have some options moving forward.