Week 1 is in the books, and we have been given a lot of reasons to be optimistic going forward. There were a few miscues, but overall Rutgers came out on a mission and basically ran Northwestern out of the stadium (Shoutout to all the Northwestern Big J’s who claim Rutgers doesn’t belong in the Big Ten). Week 2 brings a new challenge and a BLACKOUT AT THE BIRTHPLACE.
Let’s get excited for a night game and another opportunity for Rutgers to show they have taken a step forward from last year. Here are three things to watch for Saturday’s game against Temple:
1. Rutgers Pass Rush
Sunday’s game was a show case for the talent on Rutgers defense. The team recorded five sacks, two of which were strip sacks which Northwestern were very fortunate to recover. Temple loves to take it to the air, E.J. Warner (son of NFL Great Kurt Warner) attempted 49 passes in Week 1 against Akron. Additionally, Temple as a team recorded just 61 yards rushing against Akron. After giving up only 12 yards rushing to Northwestern (yes, you read that right, TWELVE YARDS THE ENTIRE GAME). Expect Rutgers to shut down Temple’s running game, force them to be one dimensional, and then have plenty of opportunities to pin their ears back (one of my favorite football-isms) and get after Warner.
2. Offensive Game Plan
Coach Schiano even brought it up in the interview, the game plan for Northwestern was kept simple. The team “didn’t show everything.” This was evident aT times with simple and similar plays being called, and the offense may have taken their foot off the gas just a bit in the fourth quarter. It was the right call for the team as they clearly did not need to do anything flashy to not only come up with a win, but dominate in the process. It will be interesting to see if Ciarrocca opens the playbook and takes a few shots downfield. Rutgers can win playing a similar game as they did against Northwestern, but it also may be a good opportunity for Gavin to test his deep ball. From my view in section 129 (feel free come say hi!), it seemed that the pull read for Gavin on the zone read and RPO’s was there with room to run. Putting some big plays and little nuances on tape would make have to make preparing for this offense more difficult for future opponents.
3. Will the Roster be at Full Strength?
There were several key players who did not play at all or played sparingly on Sunday. The backfield most notably was missing Sam Brown and Aaron Young. Al-Shadee Salaam was also not at full strength. Kyle Monangai and Ja’shon Benjamin stepped up big time, but I’m excited to see this very talented group at full strength. Mentioning Monangai gives me an excuse to add this clip of him DECLEATING a Northwestern defender on a blitz pickup.
Wes Bailey and Jaquae Jackson both seemed to have suffered injuries during the game, and played sparingly in the second half. Hopefully these are not major concerns, and we see both ready to go vs. Temple. The most intriguing missing player situation was Nasiem Brantley. In the post-game presser Schiano stated that Brantley was dealing with an NCAA issue which and gave us this gem of a quote, “I’m about fuming. You can fry an egg on my head with that whole situation.” I’m not entirely sure what the issue is specifically, so hopefully we can get more information soon and the NCAA does the right thing (won’t be holding my breath on that one).
WEAR BLACK SATURDAY AND GO RU!!