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2018 Closing Arguments: Postseason Play on the Horizon for Rutgers?

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Will this season be the glorious return to consistent bowl games for the Scarlet Knights?

Michael Hickey | Getty Images

I. Case History & Opening Statement

A. Case History

Rutgers Football had both a disappointing and hope inducing 2017 season. Rutgers fans obviously wanted the team to achieve more wins, but at the same time, the quantifiable improvement from the 2016 season combined with in conference winS gave a glimmer of hope to fans for the 2018 season. Our 4-8 season, with 3 of those wins being from in conference foes Purdue, Illinois, and Maryland was the exact type of steady build progress that the Scarlet Knights were expected to make in year 2 under head coach Chris Ash. That means that this year, if all goes as expected, is the year that Ash should prove himself even bigger. Lots of positive off-season changes (new and proven offensive coordinator, John McNulty, a freshman QB with a lot of potential, returned health to players like Blessuan Austin, and a talented, senior defense) combined with some negative (credit card fraud) still seems to sum up to a net positive for the Scarlet Knights heading into 2018.

B. Opening Statement

I will say right now and with great confidence that Rutgers will have a much improved offense this season. However, it is a young offense. Rutgers recently announced that true Freshman Quarterback Artur Sitkowski would be starting. Now this could mean several things, the first is that it’s a great plus for the further out future of our program, buuuut, as far as this upcoming season goes... well. I still think the offense will be better. Not sure about great.

My esteemed colleague, Aaron Breitman over at On The Banks wrote:

Out of 107 players listed on the Rutgers roster, 78 of them are redshirt sophomores or younger. That means 73% of the players on the team have played one season or less of college football in their careers. In fact, 47 players are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, so 44% of the roster has never played a college snap entering this season.

This definitely changes my original thoughts about this season when put that way. Still though, young, well-coached talent has done amazing things for various teams and we may see inklings of greatness in Rutgers Football this year the likes of which have not been seen in a few seasons.

Rutgers still lacks depth across the board, so the big thing is to maintain is player health. If we can keep our few stars healthy, particularly on our defense, Rutgers should be a thorn to some big teams this year and have an excellent chance against teams at our level, and no problem with the lower tier teams. Also, remember these names: Isaih Pacheco (freshman RB), Saquan Hampton (redshirt senior DB), Raheem Blackshear (soph. RB), Bo Melton (soph. WR), Justin Davidovicz (soph. kicker), Jerome Washington (junior TE), Blessuan Austin (senior defensive back), Tariq Cole (redshirt senior OL), Kiy Hester (reshirt senior DB), Isaiah Wharton (redshirt senior DB), Giovanni Rescigno (our most senior QB who I think will get ample playing time this season). These guys will make moves for Rutgers this season.

Also, Chris Ash actually said “Bowl Game” at Big Ten Media Day this year, and as Keith Sargeant over at NJ.com keenly pointed out, Ash did not say “bowl” in his previous two Big Ten Media Day press conferences. Coaches always know more than the fans, and Ash has been around not just bowl teams, but Playoff teams. He knows what postseason potential looks like, so that is a good sign.

II. Discovery/Presentation of Proofs

A. What We’ve Written about Rutgers this Off-Season

2017 Postseason Review: Rutgers

Rutgers Preview, Predictions, and Outlook

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Mailbag Request

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Mailbag Return

What’s a Rutgers Fan?

III. Emotional Plea

You’ve heard it a million times, and now a million and one, but I think Rutgers will get better and more competitive in this conference and I think it’s clear the team is headed in that direction. We will NOT be a perennial bottom dweller/doormat like people think. I refuse to believe that. Slow and steady progress which I expect to continue in Chris Ash’s 3rd year as head coach will get Rutgers to a comfortable place where we make consistent bowl games and shock a big team every now and again. That’s all most rational Rutgers fans are asking for within the Big Ten East, a juggernaut of a division in a stacked conference. I also just want Rutgers to get to a point where our fans don’t worry about those early season non-conference games. PLEASE, let this be the year where we shake those demons for good. Let us NEVER have an Eastern Michigan again. Let Rutgers beat Buffalo this year and all the teams we are supposed to beat, amen.

I think Art Sitkowski will stand out and be talked about on sport sites and shows when they’re discussing true freshman QBs. I think we’ll have a player make First Team All-Conference this season. I think if our coaches and players converge mentally on a perfect day that happens to be a Saturday Game Day late in the season, we could have a big upset this year. However, if none of those things happen and Rutgers goes 5-7 or has another 4-8 season, or worse, just know that... we’re getting back up.

IV. Verdict

ESPN

This is a BRUTAL schedule. A terrifying latter half and our first bye isn’t until October 27th... Yikes. To have a decent 2018 record we have to win early and a lot. I personally, at my most optimistic, picked Rutgers to finish 6-6, with wins against: Texas State, Kansas, Buffalo, Illinois, Maryland, and Indiana OR Northwestern.

What do the other OTE writers think about Rutgers this season?

Haha. F you guys.

Poll

How do you think Sleeping Giant, Rutgers, will fare this 2018 season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Better than 6-6!!! The giant has awoken!
    (9 votes)
  • 20%
    6-6. The giant’s alarm clock is about to go off.
    (62 votes)
  • 27%
    5-7. The giant stirs.
    (85 votes)
  • 26%
    4-8. The giant is in REM.
    (82 votes)
  • 14%
    3-9. The giant took a Benadryl.
    (46 votes)
  • 8%
    Worse than 3-9. The giant is actually unconscious.
    (26 votes)
310 votes total Vote Now