Fun Fact: Wide Receiver Mohamed Sanu wasn't the first player to run the Wildcat formation for Rutgers. Jabu Lovelace was the first to do so.
It started with Lovelace, who would take a direct snap and run. At first, it caught the opposing defenses off guard and was very effective.
However, after one season of using Lovelace in the Wildcat formation (and passing less than 10% of the time), teams started to prepare for it. Head Coach Greg Schiano almost never had Lovelace pass the ball, so there was nothing to keep opposing defenses off guard. When Lovelace was on the field, he'd almost always get stuffed at the line or get a couple of yards at the most.
After a few games of abandoning the Wildcat formation, along came Mohamed Sanu.
With a more physical running style than Lovelace and a stronger and more accurate arm, Sanu ran for 346 yards and five touchdowns.
He became the first Rutgers player to record a rushing, passing, and receiving touchdown in one season.
But last Saturday against North Carolina, the coaching staff at Rutgers continued to misuse the wildcat and screwed up the entire offense while doing so.
1. Don't just run Sanu, let him pass the ball
Sanu ran the ball 15 times and passed once. After a while UNC realized that Sanu was going to run all the time and the defense was prepared for it.
This explains why in the second half, the Sanu the Wild Knight was ineffective. Maybe, if they had Sanu pass five or six times a game, defenses would be stuck guessing what will happen next. Sanu has already proven that he can throw the ball and has two passing touchdowns.
Coach Schiano has said that Sanu has the strongest arm on the team and Rutgers has a myriad of targets to throw to. At least two or three of those passes would end up as big gains. It also will make Sanu more effective in the run game.
2. You're allowed to give the running backs the ball too
The Wildcat formation isn't just there for the quarterback to make plays. There are two running backs in the formation for a reason.
Greg Schiano mentioned in a press conference that the coaches are doing their best to make this Wildcat formation as effective as the one run by the 2008 Arkansas team.
Well, the 2008 team didn't just use Darren McFadden at quarterback, it had Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis; two very effective running backs. Jones was a lighting quick back and Hillis was a punishing ground and pound runner. Opposing defenses not only had to worry about McFadden running AND passing, but had to worry about two other dangerous players.
Rutgers has the running backs to make their formation just as effective as Arkansas was. The only problem is that they don't use them.
Jordan Thomas is a lightning quick back and Joe Martinek is a ground and pound runner. If Rutgers can create a balance of running Sanu, passing, and running Martinek and Thomas, the defense will be on its toes constantly. This will make each element of the Wildcat more effective.
3. Like every other human, Sanu gets tired after running his butt off the entire time
Freshman wide receiver Jeremy Deering played quarterback in high school and also took snaps in the Wildcat during training camp.
It's obvious that in the second half Sanu tired out because he had to run so often and play wide receiver. If Sanu gets tired, either let Deering run the Wildcat for a while, or stop using the Wildcat altogether.
The passing game would also be more effective if Sanu was able to stay at wide receiver during some wildcat plays. Rotating Sanu with Deering every so often would also keep Sanu fresh and more effective.
The Wildcat can be such an effective formation when used correctly.
If Rutgers runs the Wildcat effectively during Big East play, the Big East's best defense and a non-injured Tom Savage could lead the Scarlet Knights to their first ever Big East Championship.