Today we look ahead to BC’s September 21st road game at Rutgers. The folks at On the Banks were kind enough to share their thoughts on the 2019 Rutgers team, and what they expect to see in the week four meeting of former conference rivals.
BCI: It’s been a rough couple of years in the Big Ten for the Scarlet Knights. Do you expect them to take a step forward in 2019?
On the Banks: It’s hard to be any worse than Rutgers was last season, winning just one game and posting the worst record for the program since 2002. There are reasons to believe they will take a step forward this season, but how large of one remains to be seen. The biggest question marks are at quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver and defensive line. Yes, that’s a lot of question marks.
As of now, it’s between incumbent starter Artur Sitkowski, who led the nation with 18 interceptions last season, and Texas Tech grad transfer McLane Carter. Whoever does ultimately take the reigns, Rutgers has to get more production out of the position than last season or it could be another disaster season.
The defense has a chance to be above average and the best in head coach Chris Ash’s tenure so far. Special Teams has been solid the past two seasons and should be again. It’s all about whether the offense can go from arguably the worst in FBS to somewhere, with average being a huge step forward.
BCI: Can you give us a player to look out for on each side of the ball?
On the Banks: Junior running back Raheem Blackshear was the leading rusher and receiver for Rutgers last season. He is primed to have another good season, but sophomore running back Isaih Pacheco has the potential to be the workhorse who wears down the opposing defenses with his physical running style. They could make for a strong dual threat out of the backfield and give Rutgers a legitimate identity on offense, something they’ve sorely lacked in the Ash Era. Of course, a lot of this will come down to the offensive line being competent and providing room to run for the talented backfield. It’s a big IF at the moment.
Tyshon Fogg is a former 4-star recruit, the captain of the defense and should have a great season. He has shown flashes in his two previous seasons, but the keys for the defense are in his hands and he has the tools to be an all-conference linebacker.
BCI: BC comes to town on September 21st for their first visit since 2003. What will Rutgers have to do to win? What’s your prediction?
On the Banks: For Rutgers to win against anyone this season, it’s going to be about minimizing mistakes such as penalties and turnovers, control the clock with the run game, and limiting big plays and quick scoring drives by the opposition. I think it SHOULD be a close game, but I’m not going to have any confidence in this team until they prove themselves. After losing to Kansas by 41 points last season, Rutgers has a huge hole to pull themselves out of. However, I wrote earlier this offseason that the BC game was the most important of the season because a win would change the trajectory of this team in a positive way. That being said, Rutgers has struggled mightily in the past against the run and mobile quarterbacks, so I expect a painful, frustrating loss as of now.
BCI: This will be BC’s closest road game of the season. How’s the tailgating scene down there? Any pointers for those making the trip?
On the Banks: As you probably know, Rutgers hosted and played in the first ever college football game, so as fans we have a lot of experience tailgating. The scene is strong from those who are there despite the losing in recent seasons, but attendance has been way down. However, I expect this game experience to be a good one as there is a lot riding on this game and expect plenty of BC fans as well. We wrote an extensive guide on how to experience game day at Rutgers here.
Overall, I think a good portion of Rutgers fans miss the old Big East and playing BC regularly, so I think it will be a spirited atmosphere for sure.
BCI: Who doesn’t love an old Big East throw back game? Thanks for taking the time, and good luck in the early season!