So.. uhhh. Doesn’t take me writing this to tell you that Rutgers’ offense has struggled the last, oh, say, 10 years.
Some may remember the tandem of Ray Rice and Brian Leonard, backed up with Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood (ALL OF WHICH were NFL bound) back in the 00s. This is not that team. Can it be? Maybe. Let’s dive into the skill positions and line.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Bo Melton (SR) (47/638/6 in 2020)
Shameen Jones (RS SR) (34/378/3 in 2020)
Bo Melton and Shameen Jones return to torture the bottom half of the B1G. It’s pretty well known that these two are fast, can catch, but not necessarily the tallest dudes in the scrum. Think more home run post and 20 yard crossers behind the Safety rather than a 5 yard hitch and option. Again, as a recurring theme, can Noah Vedral continue to be serviceable, plus, uhh, a little bit? In 2021.
Tight End is super weird. Schiano is taking a leaf off the Bill Belichick coaching tree and getting at least three above average TEs - in order of starting potential: Jovani Haskins, Matt Alaimo, and (CONVERTED BASKETBALL PLAYER ALERT) Victor Konopka. Jovani Haskins leads on returning production (6/58/2).
Yep, you read that right. 58 yards.
- Is there a real deep threat on your team?
- What is the in state food rivalry in your team’s state i.e. NJ’s Wawa versus Quick Chek? Why is Wawa better?
Zuzu: Popping in briefly and angrily to say Quick Chek sandwiches blow Wawa's out of the water and it's not even funny. Okay bye.
Coray: Yeah what South Jersey troglodyte is ranking Wawa over Quick Chek? I mean, they’re both better than whatever non-NJ sandwiches will inevitably get drawn out of the corn in this thread and you can’t disagree with me because its Be Nice to New Jersey week.
pkloa: NJ's in-state food rivalry features the out-of-state Wawa? Wawa is named after the town in which it originated, Wawa, Pennsylvania, and it greatly surpasses the bullshit Sheetz from western PA.
RockyMtnBlue: A real deep threat? Hard to tell. Michigan’s QB play has been so bad we couldn’t make proper use of genuine Deep Threat Stud Nico Collins. We have a couple very fast 2nd year players in AJ Henning and Roman Wilson. They should be deep threats. I’m not exactly holding my breath, though.
You can’t throw a rock in Michigan without hitting a fast food place, so it’s probably McDonalds vs Burger King.
MNW: Man, I am really here for some CONVERTED BASKETBALL PLAYER alerts. I’m sure that won’t come up at all in any broadcasts, either. I’m terr-excited for the Bo Melton-vs.-Northwestern matchup...that’s the kind of thing Pat Fitzgerald and Mike Hankwitz’s defenses loved scheming against (see: Rondale Moore).
For Northwestern, JJ Jefferson is still on the roster, I guess? He didn’t play in 2020 but he’s a big-play threat—speedster, decent hands, etc. Whether or not there’s a quarterback who can get him the ball remains to be seen.
The rivalry in Chicago, obviously, is where you go for deep dish. I prefer Gino’s East, but really just anything but Lou Malnati’s is fine. Get your nasty limp tomatoes off my pizza.
The rivalry in Minnesota is in the Jucy Lucy: whether Matt’s or 5-8 Club invented them, has the best, etc. Matt, turns out, is a [/nopolitics] asshole, so fuck him: 5-8 all the way, but really give me Blue Door because helllllll yeah WSR you busy later? Wanna get lunch?
[You see, you coastal fucks, the adults in the room are talking about real food, not dumbass arguments about gas station sandwiches. Good sweet baby jebus, why the hell is Rutgers here?]
Beez: Dang, when it comes to actual questions of players personnel, I am way out of my depth as a Wisconsin writer. Is Danny Davis a deep threat? Or “threat,” I guess?
In North Carolina, the debate is the ever-boring Western vs. Eastern barbeque. Tomato based vs. vinegar based sauces. In Wisconsin...shoot, I dunno? Maybe like Leinie’s vs. a different mediocre beer?
MNW: It’s called “Spotted Cow”, beez.
Kind of...: 1) IF UW has a deep threat—and the really haven’t since Lee Evans—it is probably Chimere Dike (he of the TD vs. NW last year) or, maybe, Devin Chandler. Either one blossoms this year, or...business as usual I guess.
2) I have some familiarity with Wawa and I do think the sandwich quality has declined, but maybe that was the newness wearing off on subsequent visits. Either way, I’m inclined to think Zuzu has a point. However, the whole “fat sandwich” thing makes me suspicious of any NJ-related sandwich opinions.
Other than arguing the finer points of brat preparation, there is no Wisconsin equivalent of the “convenience store sandwich wars” that I am aware of. Save such hostility for Wisconsin vs. the world RE: old fashioned (i.e., screw you, more brandy for us).
- I think Tyrone Tracy is probably the closest Iowa has to a known deep threat with Ihmir Smith-Marsette leaving to the NFL. He’s a smaller, fast guy, who runs crisp routes and can get behind his guy.
- Wawa vs. Quick Check? meh. If you want a real rivalry, it’s all about Kum & Go vs. Casey’s. Casey’s pizza is superior, but I think I prefer the overall convenience of Kum & Go.
HWAHSQB: Eh, maybe. We’ll definitely miss Imatorbebhe bailing out QBs who throw the ball in his general vicinity. (By the way, how does D genius Dantonio give him single coverage on 4th and 15? Seriously?) We have some speed with former QB Williams and DB Beason switching positions. They are fast, but no idea if they are good.
As far as food rivalries, lots of Iowa towns have tenderloin wars, I guess. And Stew, Kwik Star smokes both Casey’s and Kum and Go, just sayin’. [MNW: It so does.]
WSR: Maybe? Fleck and Matt Simon know how to find and develop WRs, so I’m willing to bet one will shake loose this fall.
And yeah, MNW hit the nail on the head with the burger wars. Now I want a burger. Maybe we should try to do that this week.
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Kum and Go
Isaih Pacheco (645 and 5 TDs from scrimmage in 2020)
Kay’ron Adams (232 and 2 TDs from scrimmage in 2020)
I say this every year, but this year HAS to be Pacheco’s breakout year. Kid has the BEST high school recruiting tape I’ve ever seen. He’s playing at a giant Group 5 (2000 kids +) high school like Bugs Bunny on the diamond. For those uncultured swine:
He plays QB, RB, Safety, Linebacker, returns kicks, and I’m pretty sure he does the team’s laundry because he’s always got those Shout sticks in his bag.
But also, this is a position that hasn’t had a 1000 yard rusher since 2012. They are definitely the weird kids who are usually loaded with talent, but can’t deliver.
- Who is the best Hudl/recruit tape you can remember?
- What was the weird campus/"college of" at your school? Was it the animal science students, the law nerds, the school of the arts? Or the animal house poly-sci kids that are now your boss?
RockyMtnBlue: I don’t watch HS tape. I don’t know enough to tell the difference between someone with translatable talent and someone who’s just abusing 140lb future architects.
I suspect if you asked the ‘average’ Michigan student the weird college at Michigan is the engineering school. We’re so weird they banished us to North Campus decades ago. To each his own. I thought the weird people were the ones who thought Econ-201 was their hard class.
MNW: I have never and will never watch high school highlight reels. The only thing worse are YouTube soccer goal compilations that are set to techno so loud I shit my pants.
Northwestern has all sorts of residential colleges that are just bizarre. The Shepard-Willard rivalry was dumb and annoying on South Campus (one of them, I’ll assume Shepard, really liked sheep?), but the really weird place was Jones (the music/theatre place). Maybe Slivka, the engineering college, too?
Beez: I have a Hudl account and have used it to watch a single game. Of course, I watched it for legit work and watched it about 10 times, but still! I felt weird, because high schoolers.
Not sure how “weird” the different sub-schools are at Wisconsin, but the Engineering and Medical schools were, for obvious reasons, sorta off on their own on the edges of campus. Does that count?
Kind of...: 1) Hudl tape is for people who want to talk themselves into players (e.g. Isaih Pacheco). At UW I think that is Julius Davis at RB, or, you know, 15 “this guy is a deep threat, for real this time” different WRs since Lee Evans.
2) It’s the fine arts kids. It’s ALWAYS the fine arts kids.
- Caring is creepy. That all being said, every once in a while Derek Henry’s high school highlights will get passed around, and my goodness. It’s not fair at all. Just pure carnage.ge, everywhere.
- I went to a small, private, liberal arts college, so it’s all the same campus. Though, in this vein, anyone who chose to live in Larsen was suspect. It’s the oldest building on campus, no AC, and the rooms were all different shapes and sizes. It was mostly upperclassmen that lived there. Just a very different experience.
HWAHSQB: I’ve never seen a hudl tape, but I did see this on the twitter. He was in high school when he did that. You should definitely give that guy double coverage.
Library and Information Science people were major nerds, but useful.
Raiqwon O’Neal // Reggie Sutton // Bryan Felter // Cedrice Pallant // Sam Vretman
Brendan Bordner also got some starts last year, and they’re brining in David Nwaogwugwu from Temple with a few starts as well.
This entire unit returns from last year. On a team like Ohio State, you’d be like “Damn, they’re gonna dominate!”. On this team, you cross your fingers and just hope that the Schianocopter can do what he does best - create a ground game that sets up the deep ball.
They either finish in the bottom quarter of the B1G, or make waves to get to 8 wins.
HEY! THAT’S THIS ENTIRE PROGRAM!
- Does your OC have a general offensive strategy? Does it work?
pkloa: The Lions have a new OC, Mike Yurcich, formerly of Texas, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State. Strategy is RPO(maybe?), and I haven't football fanned since 2019, so no clue how well it'll work.
RockyMtnBlue: Haven’t you heard? Michigan is all about SPEED IN SPACE!! So far, our OC is kinda like P.J. Fleck, only without the success. Allegedly we use a lot of spread concepts and RPOs to get fast guys room to work. It’s ok. I’m sure this year everything will click.
Anywho, Mike Bajakian is only in Year Two, but in Year One the plan seemed to be “put the QB in a position to thrive and otherwise just keep doing Pat Fitzgerald shit,” which worked out well enough to get the ‘Cats to the Big Ten Championship. That was cool.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell you a thing Sean Gleeson did in his Year One or whatever it was, so that’s pretty...good? Bad? I dunno, but if Jack Donaghy has taught me anything, a Princeton Man is always “charging up the rear, holding all the balls.”
Beez: Run, run, pass. Run, run, pass. Run with penalty, run, pass, pass.
Kind of...: UW doesn’t have an offensive strategy. It’s an offensive IDENTITY!
There, doesn’t that impress you? This year will be interesting because Chryst is back to calling plays and he will get a little exotic on occasion and I do think he wants to take the wraps off of Mertz. That said, we all know the drill: meaty OLs and RBs who will take what is presented to them.
Stew: Balance, protecting the defense, and zone running game. Iowa’s goal is to run and pass in equal amounts. Running behind a line exclusively blocking a zone scheme, specifically the outside zone, for 4 yards a pop.
They are bad at this because every single team knows what’s coming and can cheat off the line’s first step. Theoretically, they keep the defense honest through play action passes deep down the field. However, they are also bad at this.
This is still a step up from Greg Davis.
HWAHSQB: In one word, beefy. Gone are the scatbacks and dual threat QBs and zone blocking of Rod Smith.
In December, the roster had 4 TEs and 14 OL. Brat Bullima has dialed up the beef to the tune of 14! TEs and 19 OL. I’m looking forward to trotting out 3 TEs on 1st and 10.
With our tall big armed QBs and 250+# RBs, we could have lineups with an average weight of 280 across all 11 positions. Who knows if it will work? Do wisconsin, iowa, and northwestern already have the market cornered on this style?
Have you learned anything about Rutgers today?
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I’m still angry about Wawa/Quick Chek.