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What We Learned From Rutgers Season Opening Win

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights opened their season with a 31-0 victory over Norfolk State last night. Sounds like a good game, right? Well, not so much. Here are a few of the things we learned during opening night.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights opened their season with a 31-0 victory over Norfolk State last night. Sounds like a good game, right? Well, not so much. Here are a few of the things we learned during opening night.

1. Offensive Has Work To Do

All through training camp we heard about how good the defense was while the offense had questions. Those questions were not answered on opening night. Sophomore QB Tom Savage was less then spectacular. The signal caller was 10-of-19 for just 148 yards and one touchdown. The offense was unable to get into the endzone against this FBS opponent until the third quarter.

Once again play calling was an issue as well. You have a power running back in Joe Martinek. Why do you continuously try running stretch plays with him instead of pounding the ball between the tackles. In the second half, when they finally ran Martinek up the middle, he gained most of his yards. Martinek did finish the game with 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

The wide receivers had a lack luster performance as well. Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison made a couple nice catches. Highly touted freshman Jeremy Deering did not have a great start to his career. To many dropped passes by this unit but the main issue seemed to be their inability to get open.

Tom Savage was sacked three times but two were because he held onto the ball to long. The receivers need to get open.

2. The Fans Were Ready

Rutgers drew a very nice crowd for a Thursday night game against Norfolk State. 46,311 showed up for the season opener. The stadium looked good, newly painted. The stadium looked good, the fans were ready and in their seats for most of the game. The team just did not show up.

3. Defense Is Game Ready

While the offense did not show up, the defense definitely did. Yes it was an FBS opponent, but so what. Rutgers defense did what it needed to do, shut down the opposition. Norfolk State managed just 156 yards of offense, including 25 rushing. The Rutgers defense recorded two sacks and a fumble recovery.

If last night’s contest was any indication, the Rutgers defense will need to carry this team on it’s back.

4. Kicking Game Is No Lock

The specialists, San San Te and Teddy Delleganna had up and down nights. Delleganna was mostly solid on punts except for one or two that he did not get good leg on. His kickoffs remain suspect. He does not seem to have the ability to reach the endzone of kickoffs.

San San Te was 3-of-5 on field goals. His two misses were from 40 and 47. Rutgers needs a better performance from the kicking game, especially if the offense can not get the ball in the endzone.

5. Punt Block Team Is Good

Rutgers blocked two punts and tipped a third. The two blocks were recorded by Brandon Bing who had a very nice game. Joe Lefeged picked up one of the block punts and ran it in for a touchdown. Rutgers has always been good in this area under head coach Greg Schiano and it appears this year is no different.

All in all, the game was a lot closer than the 31-0 final score indicates. Nobody in Rutgers land should be pleased with the performance on the field. Sure you take the win, but there is a lot of work to be done if the Scarlet Knights plan on having a successful season.

Some other thoughts that come to mind as we look back at the game:

– Mason Robinson had a nice punt return to set up a scoring drive right before the half. He needs to actually field more punts however instead of letting them all drop. Robinson needs to be on the field more and have the ball in his hands. He is an explosive player.

– The wildcat seemed to work. Mohamed Sanu was able to gain positive yardage out of the package. Rutgers needs to mix it up however. They ran basically the same play every time out of the wildcat. Let’s get creative if you are going to run this. Use it for an entire drive, or at least an entire series, not just one play. You will screw up a quarterbacks rhthym.

– Jordan Thomas is explosive. The true freshman showed his ability on a few plays. He was able to catch a nice screen pass out of the backfield early in the game. On another run, he showed his incredible speed by turning the corner and almost breaking a long run. Thomas will make plays for Rutgers this season.

What thought do you have now that you were able to sleep on this ugly win over Norfolk State. Rutgers next game will be at Florida International, another team they SHOULD beat. Let’s hope they can fix the issues and make the next game an easier win.

On the bright side, the Scarlet Knights are 1-0 to start the 2010 season.

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