Okay, first of all, no. I am not trying to manipulate statistics or conjure up a string of “what-ifs” or alternate scenarios that would have resulted in a final score of 7-6.
Rutgers lost to Cincinnati—flat out—and the score is an accurate representation of what transpired on the two-shades-of-green field turf in Piscataway this past Monday.
It really was a 47-15 loss.
In fact, the way Tony Pike and his army of ninjas-posing-as-student-athletes tore apart the Rutgers defense, I’m almost surprised the Bearcats didn’t go all “Rutgers vs. Louisville 2008” style on the Scarlet Knights.
(Remember, that was Rutgers’ final home game last year—a game in which Mike Teel threw for 447 yards and six touchdowns on 21 of 26 passing en route to a 63-14 massacre of the Cardinals).
Almost effortlessly, Cincinnati’s receiving corps seemed to disappear from Rutgers would-be tacklers as fast as they appeared, so maybe the “ninjas” analogy is too generous.
Maybe I’d be better off saying the Rutgers defense reacted to the pass like sumo-wrestlers react to all-you-can-eat salad bars.
Analogies aside, Rutgers’ Week One performance was weak indeed, as seen by the score; However, I saw a few numbers beyond the final score that might matter even more: Seven and six.
I was unable to attend the opening game on Labor Day, an inevitable fact I was aware of since the schedule came out.
I had booked a vacation to San Francisco with my girlfriend over Labor Day weekend months ago, and we had planned to go to a Giants game on the Monday we were in town, coincidentally at the same time as the Rutgers game.
Because of my phone’s Internet plan, I was still able to follow along and track every play. Thank you, Science!
Anyway, as halftime approached, my fan-guilt of not witnessing this huge game in person slowly waned as the score went to 31-7. I said to the girlfriend, “Well, this game has all the makings for a complete rout or an amazing comeback.”
She raised her eyebrows, tilted her head, and in her typically optimistic attitude said, “Well, you gotta think positively!”
Thinking positively and hoping for the latter, the former prevailed.
Exchanging texts with friends, watching Sportscenter highlights, and reading game recaps on a phone won’t ever satisfy the hunger of true game analysis, so I had to resort to my DVR upon my return to New Jersey.
(However, I will say, texts can provide for some comic relief during or after a bad loss.
Here are two examples:
Me: Where’s the D?
Friend 1: Not here.
Me: What’s going on?
Friend 2: We suck.
Me: That score makes me want to throw up. I don’t think I even want to watch this on DVR.
Friend 2: Don’t!)
I walked into my apartment at 11:45 last night, dropped some suitcases, went through the mail, purposefully cracked a beer, collapsed on the couch, and pushed PLAY.
Here is how I remember the game…in numbers:
Game over…Game on.
At this point you might be thinking, “Really, dude? Like, really really? What are you typing? Get to the point.”
Well, as of this moment, I’m typing the past, present, and future my friends!
Too heavy? Too sci-fi for a sports column?
Well, the numbers seven and six should be getting a lot of notice around the State of Rutgers over the course of this season and in the next few years, because they are printed on the jerseys of two of RU’s brightest young stars: Tom Savage (No.7) and Mohammed Sanu (No.6).
Hard to believe that the most memorable two players wearing Scarlet during Week One are true freshman (and a quarterback and wide receiver at that), but please believe it, because No.7 and No.6 look like the real deal.
After a skittish Dom Natale threw three interceptions and no touchdowns during the first half, Coach Schiano chose door No.2.
Behind this door emerged Tom Savage, the blue-chip quarterback recruit out of Pennsylvania who had turned down offers to play at Georgia, Penn State, and Michigan in favor of the State University of New Jersey, commonly known as Rutgers University.
The 6’5”, 230lb true freshman took over the reigns formidably and proceeded to establish an almost premeditated on-field business relationship with fellow true freshman, Mohammed Sanu.
Sanu, a former high school quarterback himself, was initially projected at safety for the Scarlet Knights. But the team’s lack of depth at wide receiver this spring (and the pure athletic ability of Mohammed himself) enabled Coach Schiano to try Sanu out at a new position.
Thus far, the 6’2”, 215lb true freshman super-athlete has exceeded all expectations and solidified himself as Rutgers' No.2 wide receiver behind senior Tim Brown.
Looking like a veteran duo after the first three or four connects between No.7 and No. 6, I thought, “Wow. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
As my "numeric" recollection of the game shows above, Savage and Sanu teamed up for seven completions, totaling upwards of 100 yards.
Considering Savage completed 15 passes (46 percent of them to No.6) and Sanu caught 10 passes (70 percent from No.7), it looks like these two young players may be on to something.
Okay, so these numbers would indicate that Savage and Sanu may be building chemistry, which is great for the two of them, but how does their play add up on the team’s score sheet?
Well, No.7 finished 15 of 24 for 135 yards and a touchdown, good for a passer rating of 123.5.
As for No.6, he finished with 10 receptions for 101 yards, averaging 10 yards per catch.
I think any team lead by a quarterback with a 100 plus rating and anchored by a receiver with the ability to catch double-digit passes for triple-digit yards should be in good shape, offensively anyway.
So, for those who have woken up in cold-sweats with visions of “47-15” dancing in their heads since Labor Day, might I suggest a serving of NyQuil and a ticket to the next game, as those numbers will surely be forgotten.
How about Rutgers No. 7 and No. 6? Might I suggest getting used to them, since they should be sticking around for a while.
Just remember, Tom Savage and Mohammed Sanu are only freshman, and they just completed their first collegiate game versus the defending Big East Champions.
If their collective performance in Week One is any indication of what the future holds for Rutgers Football, I'd think the numbers are on RU's side.