By Matt Sugam
Rutgers opened up the season with a 24-12 win at Tulane. Here’s what we learned.
1. Rutgers can run the football.
Finally. For the first time since Ray Rice left, it looks like Rutgers will have a strong running game. While Flood has said throughout training camp Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins would split carries, Jamison may have proved otherwise. The redshirt sophomore had 112 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. It’s not like Huggins had a bad night. He had 46 yards on 12 carries, but Jamison is clearly the better of the two backs.
2. Kyle Flood is a conservative coach.
And you thought Greg Schiano was conservative? Well Kyle Flood made Schiano look like the Mad Hatter. Flood wanted to establish the run and this will likely be a run heavy offense. But there’s also a slew of talent at the other skill positions. Between Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison, you’d like to see Gary Nova take a few more shots down the field. Sure, Coleman had a 43-yard touchdown catch…on a four-yard slant that he took the rest of the way. Maybe Rutgers doesn’t want to put too much on tape for upcoming opponents. Or maybe this is just how they’re going to play with a sophomore signal caller.
3. The defense will carry this team.
We knew this coming into the season. And it’s why Flood can be a conservative coach. But until Rutgers broke the game open in the fourth quarter, it was the defense that made sure Tulane wouldn’t generate much offense and score a touchdown to gain some confidence for a potential upset.
4. Nova has is still learning.
Nova didn’t have a bad game, but it wasn’t anything to write home about either. He was 11 of 20 for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He did make a few smart plays throwing the ball away rather than trying to stick it in somewhere he shouldn’t, which is a change from last year. While he had better control of the offense, he still looks like a young quarterback, which he is. Fortunately for Nova, Flood has said he’s going to stick with one quarterback, so the Don Bosco Prep product isn’t looking over his shoulder.
5. The offensive line has vastly improved.
Two years ago, Rutgers gave up an NCAA record 61 sacks. Against Tulane they didn’t give up any. They also paved the way for 151 rushing yards and a touchdown. Clearly the unit is vastly improved. The fact that Flood didn’t play musical chairs all training camp like Schiano did the past two years was a big help.