In Saturday’s 18 point fourth quarter comeback victory for Rutgers over Michigan State, starting quarterback Gavin Wimsatt didn’t have his best day statistically. He completed less than 50% of his passes (13 of 28) and threw two interceptions, the same amount he had in the first six games combined. On the ground, Wimsatt had the only negative rushing total of the season at -11 yards.
Wimsatt struggled mightily at times, most notably a second quarter filled with mistakes and bad throws. He was sacked a season high 3 times and his receivers dropped a season high 4 passes.
Despite all of that, Wimsatt receivced his highest grade of the season by a wide margin per Pro Football Focus. His total offense grade of 73.0 and passing grade of 75.9 marked the first time all season that Wimsatt was above the 70 grade threshold that represents a green (good) outing.
There were many elite level throws that were completed by Wimsatt against Michigan State. He started the game very strong, completing six of his first eight passes.
And then when Rutgers had the ball early fourth quarter and trailing 24-13. he came through in a big way. He persevered and delivered in a major way on the fourth quarter drive that got Rutgers within one score of the Spartans. He completed 4 of 7 pass attempts, but each completion was huge. He found Isaiah Washington for 24 yards up the middle. Wimsatt threaded the needle for 11 yards in double coverage on first down.
At the goal line in a similar situation to the week prior when he threw a pick six at Wisconsin, Wimsatt threw a perfect over the shoulder pass to Isaiah Washington in the corner of the end zone in a spot no one else could get to. Rutgers decided to go for two points to make it a one score game and Wimsatt threw a sharp short pass in stride to Dremel to convert. Momentum continued to build and soon carried RU to victory.
Wimsatt has also struggled in passing situations with Rutgers trailing by double digits in losses to Michigan and Wisconsin. Without his play on the second to last drive of the game, Rutgers was unlikely to win.
The mental toughness of Wimsatt is what stuck out the most. His ability to play through adversity and still make plays down the stretch was as encouraging a step in his development that he’s made all season. Wimsatt is embracing the program’s mentality to “keep chopping”.
“You know, Gavin has really grown up quite a bit. There wasn’t much that needed to be said,” head coach Greg Schiano said after Wimsatt’s two interceptions. “He was frustrated. He certainly didn’t want to sail it over the head, right, when that happened. But the thing that I’ve seen about him is how quickly he can put it behind him and chop the next moment and that’s what we talk about all the time is each moment is its own moment. If you live in the past that, can steal from you, and if you live in the future that, can steal from you. I thought he did a very good job of chopping the moment and really proud of him. He’s making progress.”
Wimsatt has plenty of improvement to make in his development as a quarterback. His accuracy remains an issue. However, he has demonstrated an ability to make elite throws and his decision making is improving. The key is consistency. While Kyle Monangai was rightfully the headliner in the comeback on Saturday, Wimsatt’s ability to make plays when his team needed him most down the stretch is a major reason to believe he will continue to improve throughout this season.
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