Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) suffered their first conference loss of the season to No. 8 Louisville (6-0, 2-0) to the tune of 24-10. Here’s what we learned:
Three and out
1. Justin Goodwin stumbles
The true freshman had 149 yards and two touchdowns to go along with two receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown against SMU. Goodwin didn’t follow up his breakout performance. He only had 38 yards on 11 carries as Rutgers abandoned the run against the fourth ranked rushing defense nationally, running just 17 times between Goodwin and Savon Huggins. Fortunately for Rutgers, Paul James is hoping to return after the bye week this week.
2. Special special teams
Kyle Flood said coming into the game that if Rutgers was going to win, they were going to need to play great special teams. They did. First came a 26-yard pass by holder J.T. Tartacoff to tight end Tyler Kroft when Rutgers came out with the field goal unit. The next was Rutgers’ nation leading 33rd kick since 2009 on a 24-yard field goal attempt by Louisville. It was blocked by Jamal Merrell, who now has six in his career. If it weren’t for special teams, Rutgers wouldn’t have even been in the game.
3. Offensive line shakeups
Early in the second quarter, Taj Alexander was replaced by Andre Civil at right tack. Soon after, Antwan Lowery replaced Chris Muller at right guard. However, Alexander and Civil and Lowery and Muller would switch back and forth. But no matter who was in, the line clearly was having trouble protecting quarterback Gary Nova as he was sacked eight times. Yes, Rutgers was facing the best pass rush they had seen all season, but that’s no excuse. With a bye this week, Flood may spend some time tinkering with the offensive line.
Fourth and short
As much as Nova has kept Rutgers in games and won them games this year, he did the opposite tonight. His season-high four interceptions were killer.