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Ray's Rutgers Ruminations: Heartbreak vs. Washington State

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Notes, musings and random thoughts from Rutgers' heartbreaking 3 point loss to the Washington State Cougars

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was rough.

A few bad calls from the refs, a couple great passes from Falk, and Rutgers loses a game it should have won. Does this portend a bad season in Piscataway, or should we look at the upside, as On The Banks' Griffin Whitmer posits in his "OPTIMISM OPTIMISM OPTIMISM" game recap?

Either way, let's clean out the notebook of angst:

  • For a great highlight of the stats of the game, check out Aaron's very detailed breakdown.

  • What more can we say about Janarion Grant? He put the team on his back on Special Teams, in the passing game and in the run game. This guy is special and is only just starting to tap into his vast potential. This was a heroic effort that - while in vain in this particular game - will cement another All-B1G conference selection and put Grant in the conversation for All American status. Simply electrifying, unbelievable game from the Junior return man.
  • If you've seen the movie Inside Out, just imagine that all of those Grant returns are happy memories and the refs are touching each one and turning them blue. Damn you refs...
  • Laviano made a few key mistakes, but the guy overall had a solid night. He's going to be lambasted by the fans and media, but I don't know that it's deserved. On a night where we had to score points, he put them up in droves. 37 points should be enough to win you a game.
  • Keep in mind that Laviano should have two more passing touchdowns to his tally, but the Washington State Staff Refs were putting in some serious OT.
  • I know I'm a big Laviano apologist, but that fumble is shit that my 5-year old does on the beach. It's hilarious when he does it - you know, because he's not a scholarship quarterback playing major college football - not so much when Laviano makes an oopsie like that. Another goof like that and the calls for Rettig are going to be too much for Flood to fight off.
  • The defense looked about like it should look when your best player is injured (Hamilton), you lose 5 members of the secondary including two starters, and your most dynamic pass rusher is dinged up.
  • More concerning is that there isn't really a quick fix on the horizon for the secondary. We have four scholarship corners, none of which played well tonight. It's not their fault, but the play of this group is going to have a pretty big impact on the next 2-3 years of Rutgers football. This isn't the NFL. You can't just go and sign a free agent. JUCO players are nice, but you can't build a whole unit around them. If this game was any indication, there could be a serious regression after what was a pretty fantastic 2014 on the banks until these players get more experience and more depth comes in through recruiting.
  • Man, watching Grant returns these kicks, he has everything. Speed, power, vision. The guy is just an animal. He didn't score based on just running faster than everyone. He didn't score just based on finding the hole. He didn't score based on busting tackles. He scored using every one of these tools, from every spot on the field. The guy is a dynamo.
  • Carroo had a tough game. He grabbed a few first downs, but this was a situation where we needed our all-world WR to step up and he couldn't break through the double coverage being thrown his way. The blame falls on Laviano as well, but this should have been a different narrative.
  • Likewise, Paul James didn't look right. Limping most of the game and ineffective when he was in. Just like with the defense, when you're best offensive weapon (with respect to Carroo) is operating on a flat tire, you're going to be operating at less than peak efficiency.
  • Nice game from Joey Roth. 49 yard punting average ain't bad.
  • Pretty insanely bad clock management by Flood. The team was disorganized at home. I hate to see what happens out in some of the larger Big Ten venues with this squad.
  • Lost in the shuffle, Anthony Cioffi made some nice plays from the safety position. He could be a good one.
  • Watching these replays is heartbreaking. Between the way the game was lost, the heroics involved, and the fact that Mike Leach is probably the only coach after Coach Hype more reviled by Jersey football fans...oof. Just a total gut punch. Griffin puts it well in his write-up:
This is so far the most difficult thing I have written for On The Banks. This hurts more than Kent State. This hurts more than Louisville in 2012. Hell, this hurts almost as much as West Virginia in 2006, almost.
  • Up until this game, I was a Flood believer, through and through. I still love the guy, but now I believe he's done for, barring a miracle. If those 5 extremely poor decision makers in the secondary don't get him fired for off the field issues, the position they put him in on the field will be his undoing. We love Flood, but there aren't many coaches that can come back from this.
  • ...that...said...There is one way to immediately restore confidence in the program. There's one way to salvage the season, even if things get rough down the line. There's one way to make everyone forget the heartache of yesterday. BEAT TTFP.