The Boston College Eagles are hosting Rutgers Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Ahead of the game, we sat down with Greg Patuto of SB Nation blog On The Banks to talk about the Scarlet Knights.
1. It feels like, except for some success in the 2000s, Rutgers’ football program has struggled to gain a foothold, which has continued into the Big Ten. But now, you have a coach that has led Rutgers to the promised land before back on campus. How has that been, and what’s the current mood around the team?
Greg Schiano returning to Rutgers brought a lot of excitement to the program because of what he did during his first tenure. Of course, this was a different situation. He inherited a poor team in an extremely difficult conference. Rutgers has been extremely successful in other sports but obviously, it takes longer to build a strong football team. Now that Schiano has started getting his recruits in the building, there is hope for the future.
The vibe around the team and fans has been a lot of energy. Rutgers’ fans are passionate and want to see their team win. Even during the dark years, this did not waver. With Schiano back on the sidelines, there is belief that it will get better in the upcoming years.
2. What are the team’s expectations for this year? What would feel like success?
The goal is always to get to the six-win mark and get to a bowl game. As far as expectations go, this might not be possible this season when looking at the schedule. Rutgers has to go through a gauntlet in the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State). It has to go on the road against Minnesota. Boston College is a difficult non-conference game to begin the season.
It will be difficult to go back to a bowl this year and that will be tough to swallow for some after playing in the Gator Bowl last year (obviously, Texas A&M dropped out late). If Rutgers can find a way to win five games this year, that is a successful season with bigger things coming in the upcoming years. It seems like 4-8 is a realistic mark this season.
3. Who should we be watching out for this year? Who do you think can break this game open for Rutgers?
Rutgers lost two explosive options in Bo Melton and Isiah Pacheco from last year’s team. Schiano was aggressive in the transfer portal adding offensive linemen and skill position players. Taj Harris transferred over from Syracuse and will have a chance to make an impact immediately. Sean Ryan also came in from West Virginia, giving Rutgers some options on the outside.
Offensively, Aron Cruickshank and Aaron Young are coming back from injuries at their own pace. Most importantly, it seems as though Rutgers will use multiple quarterbacks. There has been a battle between Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt, with Evan Simon in the mix as well. It is unlikely that Schiano names a starter ahead of time and that the offense will use Vedral and Wimsatt over the course of the season.
4. How does Rutgers win? How does BC win?
One strength of Rutgers should be the defensive line. There is depth at the position and despite losing some key members, there are options that can step up. The battle in the trenches will be extremely important. Rutgers will need to win this battle against Boston College’s offensive line and get to Phil Jurkovec. It is important for the Scarlet Knights to make him uncomfortable.
As for Boston College, it needs to take care of the ball – plain and simple. On paper, the Eagles are the more talented team. Giving the ball up to Rutgers will keep them in the game and potentially lead to shorter drives and easier scores. If Boston College hangs onto the ball, it will be able to maintain drives and ultimately pull the game out.
5. What’s your game prediction?
This is a game that Rutgers’ fans have been targeting for months. First, because it is the season-opener and second, it is a necessary victory if the team wants an outside chance at winning six games. In the end, the game is being played in Boston and BC has the advantage under center.
Score: Boston College 27, Rutgers 17
6. Is it Pork Roll or Taylor Ham?
The answer to this question will spur a debate no matter what side you are on. For me personally, it is Taylor Ham. Why? Because it sounds better. The words “pork roll” just don’t sound appetizing!
I have lived in different parts of New Jersey over the years – from north Jersey to the Shore and now I am just outside of Philadelphia near the border. Different regions call it different things. No matter where I have been, I call it Taylor Ham. Throw it on a Kaiser roll or a bagel, salt pepper ketchup. There is no better way to begin a Saturday morning preparing for college football.
We thank Greg for taking the time to answer our questions, and encourage you to visit On The Banks for all your pre-game Rutgers information. Even if he is wrong about the pork roll thing.