clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Closing Arguments 2021: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

New, 15 comments

Glass full o’ optimism

Nebraska v Rutgers Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

I. Case History

2020 was objectively, a great leap forward from the abysmal Chris Ash era.

Most would say, dude - 3-6 in 2020? That season sucked.

You, my friend, could not be any more wrong. With wins over Michigan State, Purdue, and Maryland, the improvement over 2-10 (0-9 B1G) from 2019 couldn’t be any more stark. The architect of the improvement, Greg Schiano, deserves almost all the credit.

Bringing in a new crew of coaches who were over the drinking age and competent at other CFB organizations instead of the local Wawa turned out to be a great idea. Specifically, Sean Gleeson at O Coordinator has been a home run so far. In that vain, RU has stepped up as a University that might care about sports and gave him a nice raise - becoming the first assistant to make $1M.

Schiano has brought in some transfers to help share the load (Noah Vedral, Aron Cruickshank, Michael Dwumfour, etc. etc.) but is essentially “Chip and Joanna Gaines-ing” this Rutgers football team. Meaning, do more with less. You should see the new weight room - shiplap high borders everywhere.

II. Opening Statement

So, uhh... no idea really what to expect here. A lot of returning starters, like, all of them. 19/22.

There are a few keys to the season that I’ll do a half-assed dive into:

QB Play: Every team has this issue, but Rutgers is crawling out of a 12 foot hole with just a shovel and some baby wipes. Noah Vedral has showed he can play and hopefully can continue to elevate his game to a few 250+ yard games this year. He’s not short on weapons with Cruickshank back, Bo Melton continuing to line up at the X, and Isaih Pacheco a reliable option at Tailback. Interceptions burned them against Illinois and Indiana last year - how can Gleeson keep the ball moving and in the Scarlet and White players’ hands?

Offensive Line Play: Raiquan O’Neil is a stud. He anchors a line that returns all 5 starters and some backups with playing time. The problem is opening up holes for several talented tailbacks to zip through. I’m not really sure what the ceiling here is on improvement, since they’re going to see the absolute monsters that Michigan and Ohio State put on the Defensive Line. Any offensive lineman will look like a turnstile with those defensive lineman coming at them for 50 plays. Specifically, the combo blocking on their zone read runs HAS to get better. Linebackers grow on trees in the B1G, so they have to get hats on the second level.

Secondary Play: Again, lots of talent returning. Linebacker is the strongest position on the team with a few NFL-bound players in the mix, but the secondary needs to improve in limiting big plays. Whenever you read about the RU secondary, they talk about the amount of tackles Tre Avery or Avery Young had last year. I really don’t wanna hear about how many tackles my safety had. That’s not a good stat. It’s like getting excited about thrown away balls from a QB.

That’s it, just improve the QB play, improve the offensive line, limit big plays, and this team is 12-0 rolling into a CFB playoff matchup with Oregon State.

III. Discovery

Start here and work your way though some serious content. And some not-so-serious content. It’s like those Goosebumps books where you’d have to jump from page to page.

Also, I’m a big fan of the real Rutgers sports site - On The Banks. Quick link to Preseason Coverage.

Lot of TBDs...

IV. Emotional Plea

I know you don’t care about Rutgers, and you probably have some terribly inaccurate representation of New Jersey in your head. You think that Iowa City, or Lansing are some crown jewels of an American residence.

But let me play to your inner spoiler here. How much FUN would it be if they ran the table? Iowa fans would have cannon fodder for years - same with Nebraska, or Minnesota! It would end all arguments - be the ultimate trump card. “At least we didn’t get steamrolled by Rutgers in 2021”.

I’ll leave you with this thought.

Poll

If Michigan loses to Rutgers on Sept. 25, does Jim Harbaugh still have a job?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Yes
    (39 votes)
  • 66%
    No
    (76 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now

That is one spicy meatball.

V. Verdict

I see odds from 4.5 wins to 5.5 wins - so lets go with 5. I’m going to channel the late Jim Fassel and guarantee they get there.

Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware are three wins off the bat, then there are a series of toss ups that can go either way: MSU, NW, Illinois, and MD. They just need two out of those to meet the betting line, and 34 to get to the Northwest Southern Arkansas Chick Fil-a Live Gator and Waffle Fry Bowl.

Poll

Does Rutgers get to 5 wins this year?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Yes
    (92 votes)
  • 14%
    No
    (19 votes)
  • 13%
    I got lost on the way to some random Midwestern B1G team post, and I don’t care
    (17 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now