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Why is Rutgers so bad? A Penn State video analysis.

Only the finest copy and paste skills here

Rutgers Spring Football Game Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Before we get started - All-22 film in the NCAA is next to impossible to get. I usually have at least two contacts I can get some sort of inside information through, but they told me that ALL-22 film (at least at Rutgers) is WATERMARKED FOR THE VIEWER. A wild competitive detail when the NFL hands it out for $99.99 a year.

Anyway, lets get started on a two play analysis of the 2022 Penn State at Rutgers matchup.

Second play of the Penn State game last year. Reminder that defense is Greg Schiano’s bread and butter - the only thing this team is somewhat competent at.

PSU lines up in a standard trips right shotgun formation, with the TE and RB opposite the WRs.

Rutgers matches the formation with a base 4-3 and some silly defensive back formation with shifted corners/safeties to the triple WRs.

Play development:

One second into the play I’m asking myself “WTF?”.

A few key PSU developments, and why they’re always at an elite level - it starts with playcalling. Take a look at the WRs. PSU #1 is looping inside to setup a crack block, while their slot WR is planning a downfield block on RU #0.

Rutgers left side DBs are wildly confused. #0 will be late to pretty much anything, and the RU Free Safety is really excited to hang out at that 10 yard line box, even AFTER the ball has been handed off and is coming RIGHT AT HIM.

I’m pretty sure that Weakside LB is Austin Dean... extreme danger. He sees the hole in front of him and is in a backpedaling position. In the full film, the kid takes a hop step forward seeing the handoff then... hops back? For a reason I will get to below.

Giving RU credit, their two DEs have firmly sealed off the edge on the RT and TE, respectively.

Play result:

Of course when you match up 5 linemen + a TE against 4 DEs and a late rushing MLB, it’s immediately a loss. RU does themselves no favors here by waiting until they’re already blocked (WLB about to get pushed into oblivion by a second level OL), and the FS continuing to stand there instead of making some attempt to close on the ball.

Lets see how the play ends:

A 6 yard gain and a wall of white. Recruiting plays a factor, but the RU scheme here is really terrible.

9 PSU players engaged on pushing forward. 5 RU players wandering around - with AN ADDITIONAL two (the RDE and RT) already behind the ballcarrier. Yeah, you’re gonna get hamblasted in a 9 v 5 scenario.

Repeat this scene, ad nauseum for four quarters.

Why was this successful for Penn State?

1 - Formation. The initial trips right shotgun formation allows the Y and Z receivers to do a lot of shit. In this case, they confuse the WLB and Strongside corner with the blocking loop. The WLB who gets hammered on this play is responsible for the Z slot coming across his face in the event of a short pass. The switch causes the backstep which allows the OL to get to the second level and pancake him.

2 - Rutgers giant shift to the strong TE side. RU left two players (LDE and the WLB) on the weak side of the box. Teams know they can probably overpower RU 1:1, so Schiano has to take some gambles on overloading sides of his defense. Burned here.

This formation and play are “Ask Madden” options, and it gained more than 5 yards every time PSU ran it.

Let’s take a look at Rutgers Offense:

HEY! I remember this formation! It’s versatile for run or pass, can be spiced up with pre-snap motion, and run with or without that left side TE/WR split out.

Take a look at PSU’s base 4-3. I’m pretty sure that’s Charlie Katshir playing MLB. In contrast to RU, he’s actually shaded over to the Trips side of RU’s formation. They’ve placed their WLB in an actual coverage spot on the first down line, and kept their DBs in a standard Cover-2 shell.

I’ll save you the suspense. Rutgers is going to pass the ball. How do I know?


Not good, Bob. James Franklin has little respect for Rutgers, for good reason. PSU shows a jailbreak - 7 defensive players coming. At this point as the QB, you have to believe they’re blitzing. In the NFL, QBs have the time, patience, maturity, etc. to play this until the end and counter a fake blitz.

But hey, Gavin Wimsatt is gonna throw this right into 4 DBs waiting to take a few steps forward and grab an 8 yard shallow post.

As predicted, the jailbreak eats through the RU line in 1.5 seconds and is about to get in the Hot Tub Time Machine with Rutgers’ QB.

Wimsatt throws off his back foot to weirdly enough:

Underthrow a sure TD.

Two sides of the same “settle for a FG” coin due to the result of that play and the ensuing 4th down:

1 - Masterful playcalling by PSU. Knowing that an RU run out of this formation will be met with 7 angry Nittany Lions, and a pass will have some pressure on it - a 3rd and 6 is the perfect time to call this play. Yes, the PSU DBs did get beat on the flag (or pylon?) route from Cruickshank, but it actually doesn’t matter. Manny Diaz knows that to get the ball that far with RU’s play development, his DL and LBs blitzing must have been incredibly close and will affect the throw. His primary objective was to stop at the line of scrimmage and cancel out 10 yards and in - which leads into #2.

2 - Terrible reads or gameplan installation. I have no idea which is at fault here. Look up at the last picture at PSU #3. He was the RCB on the play responsible for the RU TE. He’s already across the hash even before the ball hits the ground. An audible into literally any TE route would have been a success. Quick pump fake deep right then back left to the TE at 5 yards? Chef’s kiss.

RU’s TE blocks absolutely no one on the play, if you were wondering. You can see 23 smoking him two screenshots up.

Rutgers is beat before the ball is even snapped - I took two plays out of context, sure - but will continue recalling the 2022 season and showing just what a lack of talent and coaching 3 steps behind any team you play can do.