Three years in a row Rutgers started the year 3-0, but unfortunately picked up their first loss in game four. Losses are never fun, however losing to Michigan on the road definitely helped further answer question that surround this team.
Let’s see what answers we got after Week 4. I will be using the same questions from previous weeks. Click here to see what answers we got after Week 3!
Answers to Questions after Week 4
Will Gavin improve as a QB? (Week 3 answer: Yes, trust him!)
Yes, we’re witnessing it. If the opening drive TD pass didn’t get you excited enough to say “oh we’re winning this game”, kindly close out of this article. Okay, on a more serious note, I truly believe this was Gavin’s best game as a QB, especially as a passer. The box score wouldn’t necessarily support this, but he passed the eye test. We saw him make plays with his arm and legs, all while continuing to show poise and maturation in the pocket. I cannot wait to see him play the rest of the season.
Will 5 starters emerge for the offensive line? (Week 3 answer: Eventually!)
Yes, the unit is taking form. I expect to see more player rotation along the offensive line against Wagner, but that game is the perfect opportunity to get reps in. Three of the five positions are definitely locked in, so hopefully after Wisconsin we will have the rest of the line solidified.
Will the offensive line improve? (Week 3 answer: Yes)
Yes, especially in pass protection. The addition of Pat Flaherty to the coaching staff is paying early dividends. Michigan’s front seven will arguably be the best unit Rutgers will face all season. They clearly dominated the trenches and severely limited the running game. However, the Rutgers offensive line showed extreme growth in pass protection, not allowing a single sack all game. Gavin had time in the pocket on most pass plays and didn’t need to extend plays with his feet. There also weren’t a lot of designed roll outs to get Gavin in space and out of the pocket, and I think that may have been because of how the line performed early against the stout Wolverine defense.
Will the passing game improve? Will there be a No. 1 WR? (Week 3 answer: Yes, the passing game WILL improve. There is not a #1 WR on this team (yet))
Yes, this game was a perfect example. Without much of a rushing attack, Gavin was able to extend drives with his arm. As mentioned earlier, I still do think this was his best game. Despite throwing his first interception of the season, Gavin’s growth is undeniable and I am excited to see how OC Kirk Ciarrocca continues to open up the offense. LET GAVIN COOK! HE’S GOT THE LAUNCH CODES! LETS SEE SOME GAVIN NUKES ON SATURDAY!
Is there a No. 1 WR on this team? Not yet, but we’re getting close! Christian Dremel and JaQuae Jackson are clearly Gavin’s favorite two targets. Isaiah Washington and Ian Strong continue to make some really great catches, but Dremel and Jackson are getting more targets. Rutgers’ doesn’t have a Marvin Harrison Jr or Rome Odunze on the team, but they do have a group of guys who are fighting to prove they can produce in this offense. This Saturday against Wagner should be an exciting day for the WR group.
Are the running backs the strongest unit on offense? (Week 3 answer: Yes, next question)
Yes, especially when you factor in Gavin’s ability to run the ball. It would be great to see Gavin make plays with this legs on designed pass plays. We haven’t seen much of that yet, but once he does, the total rush yards for this team could really skyrocket.
Will the defense live up to the preseason hype? (Week 3 answer: YEP)
Yes, but this game helped tamper expectations. The defense was on the field for most of the game and that is not a part of the formula Rutgers needs to follow to win games. I do want to point out that after going three-and-out to open the game, Michigan emptied the playbook and called a trick play to establish their offense. It worked, so I can’t criticize Michigan for having success, but clearly the Rutgers defense was not ready for that.
The defense has opportunities ahead of them to still prove to the nation that they are a Top 25 unit in the country. However, I think the safeties need to improve. I praised them earlier in the season, but there were times we got stuck in no mans land when defending the read option. I trust DC Joe Harasymiak will clean up the mistakes and will have the defense humming in upcoming games. Lastly, it was great Powell and Bailey recorded sacks against an elite offensive line.
Will Kirk Ciarrocca install an offense that works? (Week 3 answer: Yes, but this game did not follow the normal game plan)
When the offense is able to run the ball, control the clock, and not turn the ball over, Kirk Ciarrocca is one of the most efficient OC’s in the country. However, when the script is flipped upside down, things get a little muddy. I liked seeing him trust Gavin to pass the ball on the first three plays of the season, but the fourth down play call that resulted in a pick six was simply the wrong call. As Rutgers fans, we are accustomed to bad play calling, so hopefully this does not become a trend (unlikely it does).
However, if Gavin continues to develop as a passer I do believe the offense as a whole will improve immensely. Ciarrocca is doing a great job, so do your best to forget about the fourth down play call.
Will fans show up to games? (Week 3 answer: YES!)
Yes (please). I’ve said this the past three weeks: KEEP WINNING AND FANS WILL SHOW UP!
I know Wagner isn’t the sexy matchup that fans want to see, but I guarantee this game will be fun and you will see exciting games. Rutgers has the chance to have four wins before October. Fans should be excited! Showing up to games and creating a true home field advantage could be a massive X factor for this team. LETS KEEP CHOPPIN!