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The Stars of the Gator Bowl, Rutgers Scarlet Knights Performance Review

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Performance Improvement Plan Incoming

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - Wake Forest Demon Deacons v Rutgers Scarlet Knights Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

2021 Employee Feedback

Welp. That was a season.

Finishing with the hand of whatever God you worship touching the Scarlet Knights and allowing them a chance to play in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest, there were a lot of likes and dislikes about 2021.

The Offense was led (once again) by Isaih Pacheco and Noah Vedral - who combined for 14 touchdowns in 13 games. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but Vedral ended the season with a 112.95 passer rating, with only 1800 yards and 7:7 INT/TD ratio. Whatever. Great kid, but I’m glad that era is over.

The Offensive line didn’t really do anyone any favors. Anyone actually watch a Rutgers game? Raise your hand if you saw any quarterback get more than three seconds in the pocket... against anyone. Rutgers offensive line finished 84th in Football Outsiders rankings this year - good for one spot above...

Rice!

The defense was also, a thing. Led by all-B1G candidate (Third team as per media) Olakunle Fatukasi and DB Avery Young - this was supposed to be an experienced second and third level with an undersized defensive line.

Oh, they were experienced all right. Fatukasi, Tyson Fogg, and Tyreek Maddox-Williams were the most experienced trio of LBs in college football, yet they all played only 9 games due to injuries. Fatukasi led the team with 11 TFLs (!!) and 85 total tackles in those 9 games, while Mohammad Toure led the team with 4.5 sacks.

Listen to these team defensive stats on a 13 game season:

7 INT; 10 Forced Fumbles; 19 sacks. I’m obviously cherry picking these stats... but... 8.6 yards per pass? Oh man.

Rutgers is a SPITTING image of the New York Giants (a team of which I am also a fan - I had a good 2005-2011, it’s been downhill since). Absolutely no pressure up front and getting eaten alive on the secondary due to that fact. Offensive line can’t seem to block for running plays OR the mediocre QB to throw the ball.

If I had to actually give ratings out of 10, I’d give the offense a 2, the defense a 4, and Adam Korsak a 20.

2022 Account Plan

2022 will bring a LOT of changes for Rutgers. 2021 was basically the same 2020 team. Same Noah Vedral, Pacheco, Melton, Fatukasi, etc. etc.

DC Robb Smith has been canned and moved on to take the same position at Duke. Good riddance. Fortunately they have made (I think, at least) an upgrade in hiring Minnesota’s co-defensive coordinator, Joe Harasymiak. I don’t know how many people share my fascination with PJ Fleck and boat rowing, but Minnesota quietly earned the eighth-ranked rushing defense, ninth ranked passing defense, and sixth ranked PPG in the country last year. He’s also a NJ native of Waldwick - which never hurts on the fertile recruiting trail of NJ HS football.

We should also see highly touted wunderkind Gavin Wimsatt (6-3, 200) be given a good chance to take the reins. Formerly the state of KY’s #1 recruit, he’s fast, has a big arm, and did relatively well in the handful of plays he was given this year. Here’s to hoping he’s less Sitkowski and more, well, anyone but Sitkowski.

Remember a few paragraphs above where I was bitching about the offensive line? It seems like Greg Schiano reads my stuff, since he’s taken a page out of Mel Tucker’s book and is hitting the transfer portal hard. He’s got four offensive lineman coming in - already! And from real programs! Texas, Minnesota, Colorado State, and an FCS First Team All-American. Also coming in are West Virginia WR Sean Ryan and Taj Harris from Syracuse. He’s a year late to the real transfer game, but Schiano is making it sing so far this year.

Recruiting is also doing well! Man, I’m staring to get optimistic. Coming in with the 32nd ranked class in 2022, which includes NY’s #1 recruit, LB Moses Walker; NJ’s #2, OL Jacob Allen (6-6, 270); NJ’s #7 and #9 Kenny Fletcher and Q’yaeir Price (Both EDGE/DL). I’m mostly excited about Jacob Allen - he comes from the Hun School in Princeton, a powerful parochial school in Central Jersey that competes for state titles, and most of his tape from his Sophomore year is pancake after pancake of kids that will likely at least have a chance at D1/2 football.

SVP Commentary

RU in VA: Overall, a fun season to watch. 5 wins, a close-ish game with Michigan, and some head scratchers at the end. It takes a few years for a coach to become competitive with their roadmap in the NCAA. I would expect a 6-6 season next year, as the only position that takes a significant hit is PUNTER, and LB. The rest has either improved or will be borne out through preseason competition for 2022.

Zuzu: You know not a single part of me is disappointed because what a hilariously amazing turn of events for Rutgers.

Also, we were TRULY in it for the first half. As far as moral victories go this is a legitimate one. Rutgers only had a week to prepare for this game. Not to mention players were flown back from all over the country, and WORLD actually as our Australian punter, hero, MVP, best punter in the nation, Adam Korsak even came back for this game. That we were able to go into the 2nd half feeling like we had a chance is a testament to the hard work of the coaches and players, Rutgers' academic prowess and that we are a very VERY short time away from earning a bowl outright and winning it.

We lost to the degree we did in the 2nd half because of lack of depth. Something Schiano and crew are remedying faster than I could have predicted. Amazing amazing season ender for Rutgers. Couldn't be prouder.

Coray: I’m with Zu. This game was a microcosm of the season. Nobody expected Rutgers football to be where it was this year and it was a great adventure to go on. I absolutely loved it. Maybe not every minute of it, but taken as a whole, the game, the season, the experience was sensational. We got to see meaningful football until the close of the season which - if you’ve been following RU Football for the past few years - was painfully rare.

We got to see a likeable group of athletes put together cogent Big Ten football and go toe to toe with the big boys. We saw the academic side of RU shine with an invite to our most prestigious bowl based in large part on achievement in the classroom. Overall, the future looks bright on the banks as these highly-ranked recruiting classes beget more highly ranked recruiting classes and the Scarlet Knights keep stacking positive seasons as they build the next big time program in college football.

Poll

Grade the Knights in 2021

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 41%
    B
    (34 votes)
  • 43%
    C
    (36 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (4 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How does Rutgers finish in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3-9 or worse
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    4-8
    (3 votes)
  • 30%
    5-7, no bowl
    (25 votes)
  • 13%
    5-7, lightning strikes twice
    (11 votes)
  • 46%
    6-6 or better
    (39 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now