After losing to Navy 23-21 and starting the 2008 season 0-3 for the first time since 1999 when Rutgers went 1-10, I started thinking about how I have been saying since Greg Schiano got to Rutgers that he is a great recruiter, a very solid motivator, a good fit for RU, but he is very mediocre at game planning and second half adjustments.
So here are a few examples of specific games in which Schiano and his staff could have done something to have a different outcome on the game if adjustments were made.
Oct. 11, 2003 at Mountaineer Field vs. #23 West Virginia.
At that time Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano was starting to improve his Rutgers program and build towards competing for a bowl bid.
At the end of the first half in Morgantown Schiano decided to call a timeout with four seconds remaining assuming WVU would punt.
Funny thing, Schiano never put a returner back (fine, put 11 men up to block it: I get it), but WVU lined up two men to the outside and Rutgers never adjusted.
Adjusted; the key word Schiano has yet to truly discover in his tenure on the banks.
Back to the play...WVU QB Rasheed Marshall tossed a quick strike to Chris Henry and he glided 83 yards as the Mountaineers took a close 10-3 game and went into the half up 17-3.
Rutgers went onto lose that game 34-19.
Nov. 8, 2003 @ UConn.
Soon to be member of the Big East UConn finally gets to host Rutgers at their new venue in East Hartford. Rutgers came into the game 4-4 and needed two more wins to go to its first bowl game since the Garden State Bowl in 1978.
Rutgers was clearly the more experienced team and better team. Going into half RU was up 17-7. UConn managed to outscored the Knights 31-14 in the second half, mainly on one head scratching play.
With under two minutes to play UConn was forced to punt to returner Tres Moses. The ball was kicked inside the 20 yard line and Moses decided to not signal for a fair catch. He muffed the ball, UConn recovered, and Cornell Brockington marched in for a one yard scamper to give UConn the 38-31 win a few plays later.
Maybe not even Schiano's fault, but why put Moses in a situation to make him think he needs to catch the ball. All throughout his career Moses had trouble catching punts cleanly. In a situation where Rutgers bowl life was on the line the decision making by Moses and the staff may have cost Rutgers the season.
Not the best example but there are more...
Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2004.
Rutgers coming off at the time the biggest win in school history, defeating Michigan State 19-14 in front on a national audience on ABC, the Knights had a huge let down as they lost to Div. I-AA New Hampshire 35-24.
If the loss and let down wasn't bad enough how about the actual game play. Rutgers was outscored 21-0 in the second half and torched for 385 yards in the air by redshirt freshman Ricky Santos.
Once again; the team was not prepared and the coaching staff couldn't help the situation.
Rutgers finished the season 4-7.
Let's go to opening day, Sept. 3, 2005 @ Illinois.
Talk about giving life to a dead program. Ron Zook had just taken over the Fighting Illini when RU came to town.
Rutgers dominated the first half (it's a trend) and most of the third taking a 27-7 lead on an amazing 83-yard leaping run by Brian Leonard.
Rutgers then gave up 20 unanswered points and went into OT where the Fighting Zookers beat Rutgers after RU got a Jeremy Ito FG and Illinois got a 2-yard run by Pierre Thomas Jr.
Luckly the Knights schedule softened up quickly the next two weeks and Rutgers was able to get back on track and make their way to a 7-5 record and go to the Insight Bowl.
The 2006 season.
Now I must give credit where credit is due. The 2006 Scarlet Knights were a team of magic, heart, discipline, determination, guts, talent and pride. The staff motivated and put Rutgers football in the national spotlight.
Everyone can remember the night of the Louisville game on Nov. 9, 2006. That year Rutgers finished 11-2 after beating Kansas State in the Texas Bowl 37-10. Also remember they were one or two plays away from going to the Orange Bowl had they defeated WVU on Dec. 2.
It seemed that year it looked like Schiano had finally conquered the last demon to having a solid program: coaching.
That year no one really out coached Schiano; he was the one playing mind games and putting his team in spots to win.
In 2007 the expectations were high after the magical year and RU was ready to come out rolling. Ranked in the top 10 Rutgers lost consecutive home games though to Maryland and Cincinnati.
Rutgers was out played and out scored once again in the second half against MD as Head Coach Ralph Friedgen put his faith in back up QB Chris Turner to throw a couple big pass plays to seal the win for the Terps.
Rutgers was over powered and looked deflated and shocked that the opponent would not roll over and die to a top 10 team.
The following week Ben Mauk and the Bearcats came into Rutgers ranked and ready for battle. The Knights looked like they were ready as they controlled the game at half 17-7.
On a third-and-one inside the Bearcat 50, the Rutgers staff chose to air it out instead of going to their horse Ray Rice. Mike Teel threw an INT and Cincy marched down to score and put themselves right back in the game.
Rutgers was outscored 21-6 in the second half of the game and lost 28-23 when Teel was picked on a second-and-three with under two minutes two go inside the Cincy 30.
Nov. 29, 2007 @ Louisville.
Rutgers came into the game as the better team once again as the Louisville defense had struggled all season long.
The Knights dominated the first quarter taking a 21-3 lead and went into half up 28-17. Rutgers then went on to be outscored 20-10 in route to a tough road loss 41-38.
Rutgers should have won this game but once again no adjustments were made at halftime and it appeared Louisville took advantage of that and made the Knights suffer.
Yes the 2007 was a solid year, Rutgers finished 8-5 and won its second consecutive bowl game.
People must see though this team underachieved?
And now what about this start to 2008?
Greg Schiano has to start answering questions now about his skills as a coach and what is wrong with his team.
Could it be the Schiano is too occupied and concerned about building his new extension to the stadium or that his team must have national TV coverage every time they play?
It appears that Schiano's head is not in the right place this year and it is once again costing Rutgers on the field.
I always felt he was a great fit for the program, he promised great things and has delivered on many of them.
But so far his in-game coaching and adjustments have cost him at different times in the past and no one seemed to notice.
Everyone can see now though when your program is put in the spotlight. Schiano may want to consider bringing in a defensive coordinator to lighten his load a bit and let him be the Head Coach of his program.
Something needs to change because it is quite clear no adjustments have been made at halftime this season.
Third and thirteen inside Navy territory and Schiano brings in Jabu Lovelace to run the ball in a passing situation?
No more than twice a game have we seen TE Kevin Brock run a seam route up the middle for big gains?
These are the types of decisions that can cost Rutgers, and will cost Rutgers a season.
So far RU has been outscored by opponents in the second half...
Fresno State- 24-7
The numbers don't lie. People criticized me for being too hard on this team when they lost to Fresno State. Maybe I said some things because I saw what i have seen since 2003 when the program began to pick up a bit.
Now look at the situation; 0-3 overall and two weeks to go before Big East play begins.
There are no leaders on this team, there are no Eric Foster's or Brian Leonard's. The coaching staff needs to realize this and needs to make changes and needs to answer the public's cry for what is going on?
And that all starts with head Coach Greg Schiano.