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Rapid Reaction to Rutgers’ 35-16 victory over Virginia Tech



Sep 16, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights running back Kyle Monangai (5) celebrates his third rushing touchdown of the game with offensive lineman Hollin Pierce (72) and wide receiver JaQuae Jackson (9) during the fourth quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers defeated Virginia Tech 35-16 on Saturday to improve to 3-0 on the season. It was a game that saw Rutgers lead 21-3 at the half but another conservative third quarter allowed the Hokies back into the game. Despite the threat late, RU responded with two late touchdowns to put it away.

There is plenty to be positive about. Rutgers ran for 7.5 yards for carry and over 250 yards on the ground. They didn’t turn the ball over and limited penalties. Rutgers had to win these first three games to have a legitimate shot at a bowl game and did so by a combined 65 points.

There are some things to be concerned about. The offensive line is a work in progress as is quarterback Gavin Wimsatt. How effective the offense will be in Big Ten play is certainly something to be unsure of. The defense got worn down by the conservative play calling in the third quarter. In three third quarters this season, Rutgers has eight punts and one touchdown. That needs to change in Big Ten play.

Even so, this team has themselves in position exactly where they need to be at this point in the season. The coaching has been very good in getting this team prepared. Rutgers minimizes its mistakes and capitalizes on the mistakes of its opponents. They are playing complementary football.

In my rapid reaction below, I discuss the positives, the concerns and the context of what it means to be 3-0 so far this season.



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  1. BataliBoli98

    September 16, 2023 at 10:08 pm

    Agreed on all points. Here are some observations from section 208 and a question:
    1) RU continues to make the big play when it’s needed. There were many examples from this game.
    2) Monangai’s vision is outstanding along with his ability to make quick cuts. He needed more carries in the first half.
    3) Aaron Lewis’ tackle on the conversion felt enormous at the time. While it didn’t matter based on the final score, it mattered to the psyche of the crowd and players for sure.
    4) Flip Dixon’s pick was really impressive. Looking forward to seeing it on tape.
    5) The RU fans that are at the game are great. They get loud and do what they can to impact the game. The problem is that there is simply not enough of us.
    6) At least 5 times this season Wimsatt has thrown a short pass into the flat only to have the receiver get lit up immediately.
    7) Aaron, did you agree with the decision to punt on 4th and 1 in the third quarter or did you want to see GS go for the kill?

  2. pj43

    September 17, 2023 at 3:38 pm

    “Unfortunately, the offense got extremely conservative and predictable once again in the third quarter…..It was a 19 point win that felt like a much closer game….” Aaron.

    Amen, Aaron. That’s the “glass is half empty” in me agreeing with your comments. I didn’t think VT would score over 10 pts nor did I think Rutgers would score over 30 pts either.  Schiano. in his post game presser, defended his decision to punt in the 3rd Q on 4th & 1 around midfield. His rationale was that, with a 21-3 lead in the 2nd half, he’s always going to make the opposition have to drive the length of the field in that situation in order to score.  I have to think that Ciarrocca had a high percentage play available for either Wimsatt or Monangai to gain 1 yd and keep that drive going for at least a FG attempt.  That and an opportunity to both lengthen the lead and maintain an advantage in time of possession in the 2nd half was my thought.  Coach’s decision, as they say, and Schiano is the HC.

    My bigger concern was Rutgers inability to contain the dual threat QB despite the supposedly mediocre VT OL. The fact that VT had a greater time of possession & more total yds than Rutgers makes me wonder just how bad it can get at Michigan – both in terms of containing their offense and Rutgers trying to run the ball with a limited passing offense.  One can only hope that the plan all along has been to hide the deep passing game as well as incorporating the TEs in the short/intermediate routes. All part of the plan for Big Ten play while giving Wimsatt experience in the first 3 games running the offense?  Just asking.
    But, let’s think positive, as Aaron reminds us.  Monangai has been brilliant.  The defense, overall, has been stout & physical.  The offense has been mistake free.  The OL has been dominate in the 4th Q.  Wimsatt has been efficient and his passing shows progress.  And thumbs up to special teams play.  There, I feel better now!  On to Michigan where, as some gal once said/sang,  “Let’s get physical”! 

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