Rutgers has two weeks to look back at the mistakes it made during an upset loss to Kent State and the Scarlet Knights must learn and improve before taking the field against Army.
Quarterback Gary Nova threw six interceptions and Rutgers had seven turnovers as a team in the 35-23 stunner. The Scarlet Knights were undefeated and ranked No. 18 in the country heading into the game.
Even though the disappointing loss ruined the team’s perfect record, Rutgers still has a chance to enjoy a successful season if it can bounce back.
Here is what the Scarlet Knights must do to move past the loss and continue winning.
Take Care of the Ball
Turnovers completely killed the Scarlet Knights’ chances to beat Kent Sate, and the team must take care of the ball against Army.
Nova had just three interceptions entering the game, but tripled his total with an abysmal performance. The mistakes continued to pile up throughout all four quarters and the sophomore signal-caller now has extra time off to focus on what he must do to avoid making the same mistakes.
He was unable to stay calm under pressure, and must get used to throwing the ball effectively when blitzed.
If the team plagues itself with giveaways like it did against Kent State, it will certainly have more than one loss on its record when the season is over.
Establish the Run
Rutgers has not been overly successful running the ball this season, but now that Kent State has provided a blueprint to take down the Scarlet Knights, the rushing game must become a larger part of the offense.
If Jawan Jamison can get comfortable early in the game, it will take a significant amount of pressure off of Nova. He will not feel that he has to force throws, and a successful running game will neutralize opposing pass-rushers.
Pounding the ball on the ground will also allow Nova to sell play-action passes more effectively. These fakes will cause linebackers to jump and the middle of the field will be more open for the young quarterback.
Nova will show vast improvements from his previous performance if the Scarlet Knights are able to move the ball on the ground.
Dominate on Defense
While the offense was certainly the weak spot in the Scarlet Knights’ performance against Kent State, the strength of this team is on defense. Rutgers must dominate on this side of the ball.
Khaseem Greene and the other senior leaders must set the tone on defense and ensure that the unit lives up to its vast potential every game from this point on.
Rutgers is still alive and in control of its own destiny in the Big East, as Kent State was not a conference opponent.
If the Scarlet Knights do win out, it will all start with how the team plays on defense. The performance on all three levels will make or break the rest of the season.