The tone was set early in the 2023 season — and it was a different one.
Last year, Rutgers jogged out three different quarterbacks to take the first three snaps of the season. On Sunday against Northwestern, Gavin Wimsatt and the Rutgers offense showed signs of improvement.
Wimsatt led a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included to fourth-down conversions to jumpstart the 24-7 victory at SHI Stadium in Piscataway.
Wimsatt finished 17-for-29 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He added 63 yards on nine rushes and a score. Rutgers held the ball for over 13 minutes in the first quarter. The first two drives of the game both ended in touchdowns and totaled 32 plays and 155 yards.
Rutgers (1-0) finished 8-for-18 on third down and a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth down. Most importantly, the Scarlet Knights were flagged twice on Sunday. This has been a problem for Rutger in Greg Schiano’s second tenure.
The offense for Rutgers slowed down but Wimsatt showed poise and used his mobility and arm strength in Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense. The offense featured roll outs and out routes that let Wimsatt use his arm to get the ball to the sideline. And of course, aggressiveness to go on fourth down. This includes a fourth-and-five on the first possession that led to an Ian Strong touchdown.
Wimsatt’s biggest problem, and biggest criticism in training camp, was his accuracy. In the opener, Wimsatt looked comfortable from the start a Ciarrocca kept the offense simple.
Defensively, Rutgers held Northwestern (0-1) off the scoreboard until the final drive of the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knights finished with five sacks. Mohamed Toure, who was the team’s sack leader in 2020 and 2021, added one in his first game back from injury.
The Scarlet Knights will be back in action on Saturday as Temple comes to SHI Stadium.
All fans wanted to see from Schiano, Ciarrocca, and Rutgers as a whole was improvement. After one game, the Scarlet Knights showed just that and gave some reasons to be excited moving forward.