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Gavin Wimsatt showed improvement in one key area against Michigan State

The quarterback personified the “keep chopping” mentality of the program on Saturday.



Oct 14, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Gavin Wimsatt (2) throws the ball as Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Derrick Harmon (41) pursues during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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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  1. thevinman

    October 16, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    So true about Wimsatt. Also, kudos to coach Ciarrocca for his 4th quarter play calling, especially the deep end-zone play to Washington. Kudos also to Wimsatt on that play.

  2. pj43

    October 17, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    I don’t want to beat this to death but I continue to feel that Wimsatt’s accuracy problems are primarily mechanical.  I’m even more convinced after seeing the videos of Teel and Savage over the weekend in the videos of the L’ville & UConn comeback games.  In my view, both QBs set up and step into their throws and drive the ball with their legs.  Unless I’m seeing things completely wrong, when I watch Wimsatt, almost every time I watch him throw, he appears almost to be aiming the ball (causing it all too often to sail), relying primarily on arm strength rather than using his legs in a smooth throwing motion to drive the ball.  

    I’m not saying that Wimsatt hasn’t shown improvement over last season (particularly in decision making and game plan execution) or that he hasn’t made good throws over the course of the season.  What I am saying is that there’s a flaw in his throwing technique that will continue to cause inconsistency in his accuracy and will continue to lead to overthrows and soft throws resulting in interceptions.  His athleticism and arm strength are evident but that’s simply not enough at this level to take this team to the next level, in my opinion.  The frustration for me is that the problem is correctable.  

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