Connect with us


New specialists off to a good start for Rutgers



Sep 9, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights place kicker Jai Patel (44) celebrates his field goal with long snapper Jake Eldridge (49) during the first half against the Temple Owls at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

While Rutgers was dominating the action in the first half against Temple on Saturday night, the score was not reflective of that. A red zone fumble on the first possession prevented RU from jumping out to an early lead. While Ja’shon Benjamin’s 33 yard touchdown catch from Gavin Wimsatt came on the next drive, the Scarlet Knights only held a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

When the third drive of the game stalled at the Temple 33 yard line, head coach Greg Schiano showed confidence in his new kicker. In his debut, Jai Patel went 1 of 2 on field goal attempts. He made a 32 yarder and then hit the post from 38 yards coming up short. To see Schiano show his faith in Patel by giving him an opportunity to take a 51 yard field goal attempt was positive. To have Patel reward that faith was even greater. He drilled it and the kick looked good from even farther out.

On the next possession, Patel was called on again and this time connected from 43 yards.

Rutgers led 13-0 at this stage of the game with 7:22 remaining in the first half. The Scarlet Knights beat Temple 36-7.

If Patel had come up empty on either kick, it would have been a different dynamic at that stage of the game. Instead, his makes gave Rutgers a comfortable enough lead that when Temple finally scored early in the fourth quarter, the team didn’t panic and finished the game with 23 unanswered points. Patel finished his perfect game with a 23 yard make that put the score at 22-7 before running backs Sam Brown and Al Shadee-Salaam each scored touchdowns in their season debuts.

Schiano was asked after the game about when he knew Patel was capable of a night like Saturday in the win over the Owls.

“You know, it was really in the spring. He won the job in the spring,” explained Schiano. “He was very consistent in the spring and then in the summer just continued to do that. Coming out of spring, he was the one, and he just kept doing it and same thing in training camp.”

Patel replaced Jude McAtamney, who handled the place kicking duties last season but it now just doing kickoffs. He was a perfect 8 for 8 in touchbacks against Temple and is now 13 of 13 this season.

“So you know, he and Jude have a great relationship. They work together,” Schiano said. “Jude has a really strong leg and so you know, we may use him in that role, too. I was thrilled tonight with both those guys. I mean, 3-for-3 on field goals, 51-yarder and then Jude knocked every one of them out, touch back. That’s pretty good.”

Another specialist who has come through in the early going is punter Flynn Apple1by. Replacing the defending Ray Guy winner and program’s best punter aga He delivered on perhaps the most clutch punt of his career so far. Appleby stood in the back of the Rutgers end zone and produced a 55 yard punt that went to the Temple 39 yard line. He averaged 42.3 yards on three punts that included another one downed inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Appleby has now pinned foes five of his eight attempts this season so far.

“I think Flynn is really starting to get his feel. Replacing some big shoes to fill and he’s done a good job, pleased,” said Schiano.

He continued, “Mike did a good job tonight on snaps, long snaps. He did a good job, and Jake snapping short snaps. I think we have a bunch of new specialists that are stepping up, which is good.”

It’s only been two games so far, but the new specialists of Rutgers are making a big impact.

Thanks for reading the The Scarlet Faithful. For more Rutgers Athletics content from The Scarlet Faithful, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube ChannelYou can subscribe to The Scarlet Faithful podcast on AppleSpotify, Pocket Casts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. For advertising inquiries or to reach out directly, email at

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. BataliBoli98

    September 10, 2023 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks for dedicating an article to this unit because, and I can’t believe that I’m saying this but this unit actually looks upgraded from last year. Jude’s ability to essentially neutralize a strong return game is enormous. Jai’s ability to make kicks from distance gives RU an option that they rarely seem to have and Flynn has been great. One of my kids even said: “Cool. That same punter is still on the team.” It’s a long season but so far very good. Go RU!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *