We’re starting off the East Division previews with a team that has a special place in my heart, mostly. All of our hearts really because I think we all just feel really bad for them. You know Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the birthplace of college football and they’ve fallen on some hard times for the last 100 years or so. Can they improve? Will this season be the season that the Scarlet Knights improve? I think the answer is no.
Last season they averaged 153.9 yards per game passing. That’s 124th in the nation they were tied 95th with rushing yards per season. They were 124th in points scored. They were 37th actually in points against which that’s, you know, that’s actually not bad for them.
So, they had a relatively decent defense. Definitely not something that’s going to keep up in the Big Ten, but a decent defense nonetheless.
We all remember last season they started off pretty solid 3-0. Although they had the close game against Temple and then just kind of fell apart from there. They had a good game against Indiana. Solid game there but just nothing showing the rest of the season. This season we really want to be looking at whether or not offense is going to be improved for them.
Rutgers has been making some interesting moves in the off season. Actually, during the season last year they fired their offensive coordinator. I can’t remember his name off the top of my head. I’ll see if I can find that while we’re cooking here. But over the off season they made a bit of an interesting hire.
Bringing in their new offensive coordinator [Kirk Ciarroocca]. Actually, the offensive coordinator at Minnesota ranked 16th nationally in rushing offense this season. Which was actually his second stint in Minneapolis. He had done a season there prior to accepting the offensive coordinator position at Penn State but subsequently got fired from that in 2020 and then spent a year down in West Virginia. Then reunited with PJ Fleck at Minnesota for 2022 and in 2022 Minnesota’s offense was actually not too bad. I feel like they were inconsistent more than anything, but they weren’t that bad when they were firing on all cylinders. The trouble was that they weren’t really firing on all cylinder every game so it was kind of a question of which offense are you going to get this week.
It’s an interesting hire and I think it’s a good hire for Rutgers especially because they’re just looking for something, anything, at this point to give them a spark on offense. They should have a decent returning offense coming back. I know there are some questions with their quarterback, Gavin Wimsatt.
There are some questions they need to figure out with his passing game. He is just a sophomore but he’s developing. If they want the offense to take the type of step that they feel they need under Ciarrocca. That being said there’s actually some reason for optimism for Rutgers on offense this season.
The problem is that defensively they’re not looking too hot. They did lose three of their best defensive players in Christian Izien, Christian Braswell, and Avery Young. That’s a pretty significant blow to a defense that already allowed on average about 5.2 yards per snap in 2022. Definitely not good you’re giving up a first down on average every two plays at that point, literally. Definitely needed some help there and that’s not going to be good for them losing those two players.
Looking at their schedule this season. Yikes. Big yikes and think this is the last season before USC and UCLA are in the Big Ten. So big yikes.
Starting things off with Northwestern, really not sure what to expect from them. I’m going to call this a Rutgers ‘W’ for now because I think Northwestern was pretty bad last year. I’m not sure that they had a lot of improvement over the off season. I guess we’ll see.
Temple. It was a close game last season and now this season I believe it’s on the road so that might be a close game. I’m going to put it as a W for Rutgers right now. Maybe I’ll change my opinion on that, going closer.
Virginia Tech. That’s a loss.
Michigan. That’s a loss.
Wagner. That’s a win.
And then I’m not seeing a win for the rest of the season here. Maybe Indiana but again that’s a road game against Indiana and that’s their homecoming so I don’t know. Not feeling too hot about it.
So right now, I’m looking at giving Rutgers probably a one to three and nine season. Maybe four and eight if they can knock off Indiana. There’s absolutely a scenario where Rutgers also goes one in 10. So, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Rutgers.