By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – While it may not have been pretty, No. 21/22 Rutgers (5-0, 2-0 Big East) defeated Big East rival UConn (3-3, 0-1 Big East) 19-3. As Rutgers improved to 5-0 for just the third time since 1976, here’s what we learned from the game:
1. Rutgers heads didn’t get too big in the bye week.
One of the trepidations for Rutgers’ fans were that the team would come out to tight after a big win at Arkansas that vaulted them into the Top 25. Such things had happened to the Scarlet Knights under Greg Schiano. Not to mention the fact that they’d also come out flat after bye weeks under Schiano. That wasn’t the case under first-year head coach Kyle Flood.
2. These are the top two defenses in the league.
The numbers suggested as much heading into the game as UConn and Rutgers were ranked one and two respectively in total defense. And the two teams proved in on the field today with less than 550 yards of total offense by both teams combined. Rutgers run defense — which is the best in the nation — held UConn to 54 yards. Both units were stifling and as good as advertised in what turned out to be a defensive slugfest.
3. Season ending injuries didn’t affect Rutgers.
Two weeks ago fullback Michael Burton (lower leg) was ruled out for the year. This past week, defensive tackle Ike Holmes (wrist) was lost for the year as well. Neither one of their absences was detrimental today. Sam Bergen and tight end Paul Carrezzola weren’t spectacular, but did a solid enough job filling in for Burton while it was a committee of defensive linemen — mainly Scott Vallone — that filled in for Holmes and did so admirably.