The Rutgers Football season will kick off on Sunday, Sept. 3 at SHI Stadium against Northwestern. Leading up to the season opener, we will be taking a look at each position on the field for the Scarlet Knights.
The series begins with the most important position on the field — the quarterbacks.
Position Coach: Kirk Ciarrocca
Key Returners: Gavin Wimsatt, Evan Simon
Key Losses: Noah Vedral
Key Newcomers: Ajani Sheppard
What Went Well In 2022: Showed Off Potential
Is there anything else that can be said?
The Rutgers’ offense was a mess as a whole last season and it began with the lack of production from quarterbacks. Of course, there was a rotating cycle under center and none took control enough to win the job.
Rutgers averaged 153.9 passing yards per game, which was last in the Big Ten. As a whole, Scarlet Knight quarterbacks threw for just 1,847 yards while completing 50.6% of passes with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Evan Simon got a bulk of the playing time early on before Gavin Wimsatt got a shot and Noah Vedral was mixed in as well, when healthy. Last year might not have provided results wanted but it gave a bit of hope for the future — beginning with Wimsatt.
Rutgers has a starting quarterback. Prior to Big Ten Media Days, Greg Schiano announced that Wimsatt would be the starter under center for the Scarlet Knights. Wimsatt is one of the biggest recruits that Rutgers has ever landed so the potential is there for Wimsatt. Last season, he great athleticism and arm strength. He struggled with his accuracy and downfield passing but there are other factors at work there. With Kirk Ciarrocca taking over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, there should be a new plan in place for Wimsatt. Ciarrocca has experience developing young passers in the Big Ten.
Schiano also revealed that Simon would act as the second-string while freshman Ajani Sheppard was slated as the No. 3. During the spring, Sheppard impressed the coaching staff and has a chance to be the next man up in Piscataway if he hangs around for the duration of his career.
No matter what level of football, the quarterback is the most important position on the field. The potential might be there for Rutgers but it is time to show it off on the field in 2023.
Improvement Needed: Consistency, Health, Downfield Passing, Etc.
Now come the areas of improvement, which are basically everything else.
Injuries were an issue for Rutgers over the course of the season. Vedral dealt with a nagging issue all season while Wimsatt also missed some time. This led to a constant rotation at the position but it also seems like that was the plan at times. Who can forget three different players taking the first three snaps of the season against Boston College? That is not a recipe for success.
It was mentioned above that Rutgers struggled with its downfield passing attack. The quarterback position also struggled with inconsistency. This could be because none of the options were able to get into a rhythm. The uninspired play calling contributed to the lack of downfield success. This is an area that fans hope can improve under Ciarrocca.
The bottom line is, there is plenty of improvement needed at the quarterback position. Last season is one that can be thrown away offensively. The Scarlet Knights will look to write a new chapter with a new staff.
Schiano has named a quarterback. Wimsatt is the guy. There is finally some stability within the offense. Should they make a difference? Along with a new OC, absolutely. It is not easy for players to get into a rhythm when there is a carousel under center. Rutgers has been eyeing the six-win mark for awhile now and there is a path once again this year if the offense can improve.
Other Position Groups
- Running Backs (Aug. 3)
- Wide Receivers (Aug. 7)
- Tight Ends (Aug. 10)
- Offensive Line (Aug. 14)
- Defensive Line (Aug. 17)
- Linebackers (Aug. 21)
- Secondary (Aug. 24)
- Special Teams (Aug. 28)