Just two more days until kick-off, and here we are taking a closer look at what to expect from the Rutgers offense and defense (and special teams).
The big, yet unsurprising question for Rutgers is who will be starting at quarterback. Noah Vedral, Evan Simon, and, or should I say OR, Gavin Wimsatt are all in the mix, per Greg Schiano’s first depth chart. None appear to have separated in the preseason competition, so Tem Lukabu’s side will have to prepare for all three. Vedral started all 13 games last season, while Simon and Wimsatt combined for about 50 passes. The former Nebraska product started nearly every game in 2020 as well. In his two seasons at Rutgers, he has 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but he also has 490 yards rushing.
Simon has been with the team for three seasons and has a tad bit of game experience as mentioned, but Wimsatt is the future of the program. He’s a four-star recruit, the highest in Rutgers history for a quarterback, who saw considerable action in the team’s last-minute bowl game. The Kentucky native enrolled early in last season at Rutgers, so he’s had a good opportunity to develop. in the system. Wimsatt is big and has the special arm talent to go with raw athleticism. Throwing him out there will add a wrinkle to the Rutgers offense. Schiano has insisted they’ll do whatever it takes to win, and if that means multiple guys, so be it.
Former Eagles Galore
Three former Eagles fill out the Rutgers offense. Former quarterback Johnny Langan has been lined up all over the place on offense. He’ll start at tight end, but you can sure bet the offensive staff will cook up some kind of trick-play where he’ll be throwing against his former school. On the offensive line, center Ireland Brown will get the nod, and Mike Ciaffoni has a big old OR in front of him at guard. The coaching staff has alluded to rotating in a bit more meaning he’ll surely see action. Both guys played on the defensive line while at BC their freshman years but still have strong connections to the team. The offensive line as a whole seems to be pretty well set, and the key thing to note is they all stand quite tall. They are pretty much all at least 6-5 and 300+ pounds.
It’s a veteran group of receivers and some experienced running backs even though they lost their best skill position players. Syracuse transfer Taj Harris is the main man to watch. The 6-2 Harris was previously named third-team All-ACC, and is already in the Syracuse history books in terms of receptions (5th) and yards (8th). Another transfer with over 1000 career yards is Sean Ryan (Temple, West Virginia). Ryan brings size and explosiveness. Throw in Aron Cruickshank for a speed threat and Joshua Youngblood, an all-namer who the team says will be a big part of the offense, and it could grow into something as the season and chemistry progresses.
It’s a third year with Sean Gleeson calling the plays. The added familiarity after making huge progress year one will pay dividends. Expect plenty of motion and quick plays to move the offense.
OK that’s a lot going on for the offense. Let’s breeze through the defense.
Our friends at On the Banks called out the defensive line as the best chance Rutgers has to win the game. And the reasons are clear. With plenty of depth, Schiano said there are 10 guys he feels comfortable throwing out, albeit not a plethora of experience, they can be a matchup problem. We don’t know what to really expect with BC’s particularly green offensive line, so the Scarlet Knights will hope to exploit the matchup. Linebackers, on the other hand, they’re less high on. Two entrenched starters with very few starts, and next to no proven depth, they’ll hope to cover up with all that surrounds them. Three starters also return in the secondary with Max Melton, Avery Young, and Christian Izien. All are serviceable, and a group with three seniors can always prove difficult.
Who could forget this last phase of the game. Main thing to note here is Rutgers has one of the best punters in the country in Adam Korsak. Korsak set a record last season with 45.25 yards per punt and didn’t record a single touchback. In fact, he hasn’t since 2019. He’s a first team All-American that could lessen Zay Flowers/Jaelen Gill’s impact in the return game.