Rutgers Football: 5 Things We Learned About the 2011 Knights
Rutgers played its season finale on Saturday, a lackluster effort against the now 5-6 UConn Huskies.
Playing for a shot at a share of the Big East title, the Knights fell short.
It was the second time in the Schiano era that the Scarlet Knights had this opportunity, the first coming in 2006 when RU played West Virginia into double overtime at Mountaineer Field, and the second time Schiano's Scarlet Knights fell short of their goal.
The team that finished last in 2010, and picked to finish last in the Big East preseason poll, had an opportunity to go from worst to first in 2011—opportunity wasted.
The wasted opportunity leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Rutgers' supporters, and another bullet to fire at Schiano from the what have you done for me lately? crowd.
These Knights Weren't Ready for the Big Time
The moment frankly seemed to big for Rutgers when they stepped on that field.
A freak play forced a fumble from Jawan Jamison early in the game, and the Knights defense, which had been spectacular, allowed two long runs, the second earning Lyle McCombs (pictured) and the Huskies a touchdown.
Neither runner was touched until well beyond the line of scrimmage, and the 7-0 deficit seemed to be too much for RU to deal with.
After going down 14-0, the Knights seemed to be reeling with no answers for UConn's offense which put up 40 on the day.
Rutgers Struggles with In-Game Adjustments
Joe Martinek struggled in blitz pickups against CT
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In both the WVU game and the UConn game, Rutgers struggled both offensively and defensively.
Against WVU, the struggle on defense was dealing with misdirection. Schiano continued to blitz despite misdirection plays killing the blitz package, and the team surrendered huge runs.
The struggle on offense was protecting its quarterback.
Against UConn, that offensive trouble continued.
UConn came up with six sacks of RU quarterbacks on the day, and it was obvious that RU running backs were struggling in blitz pickups.
No adjustment, and RU drives were short-circuited all day.
Nova or Dodd? Both Are Inconsistent
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Each QB had his moments for Rutgers this season, Nova led a great comeback against Syracuse and had RU up 10 at home against WVU. Dodd had his wins against USF and Cincy, but both quarterbacks had their shaky moments as well.
Nova was simply awful in the second half against WVU and was spotty at best in the Louisville game.
Dodd looked overmatched on Saturday.
In garbage time, Nova made some plays and threw a couple touchdowns including a 92-yarder to Brandon Coleman in which the young signal-caller hit the redshirt freshman wideout in stride.
One of these two will need to step up his game for the bowl game and the 2012 season.
Future Is Bright
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Missing out on the Big East Championship this season was disappointing, and Greg Schiano certainly didn't seem to have his young team ready for that kind of moment.
However, this was a team that definitely got ahead of itself.
Starting a freshman quarterback for most of the year, underclassmen at all three wide receiver positions and a completely revamped offensive line, fans were unsure what they'd get from this year's Scarlet Knights.
After dealing with the tragic injury of Eric LeGrand, RU had entered 2010 on a six-game losing streak.
It wasn't until a 38-26 win over Ohio that RU beat an FBS opponent for the first time since winning against Army, the game that marked the last contest for Eric LeGrand.
That all being said, the loss on Saturday was a bitter disappointment for RU fans.
Greg Schiano Still Has Something To Prove
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Eight wins is nice, a winning Big East record is nice, contending for the conference title was nice too but Greg Schiano has still failed to deliver on his promises to win "championships at RU."
This team did get ahead of itself, but it is a team that, in year 11, was still a "young team." That can't continue to happen.
Next year is a huge one for the Scarlet Knights and Greg Schiano.