By now, it’s no secret the Rutgers offense has not been able to find it’s running game. The wildcat plays with Mohamed Sanu have been the only some what consistent form of rushing for Rutgers this season.
Since Chas Dodd has taken over the quarterback role, the Scarlet Knights have been more of a spread team. Dodd has been able to throw the ball all over the field to multiple receivers.
When Dodd has time to throw, it works out great. Time to throw is something that has been rare for the Rutgers quarterbacks. We saw it with Tom Savage and last week we saw it again against Army.
The Rutgers offensive line is still not getting the job done. Rutgers is allowing 4.33 sacks per game, the most in the country. That’s right, on average, Rutgers is allowing the most sacks per game of all 120 teams.
The Pittsburgh Panthers host Rutgers tomorrow afternoon and have two exceptional pass rushing defensive ends, Brandon Lindsey and Jabaal Sheard. Each of those players has five sacks so far this season.
If Rutgers plans to throw the ball often, the offensive line will need to protect the passer. Dodd will need to do his part of course and get rid of the ball. To many times, Savage and Dodd have held onto the ball to long, allowing the defense more time to reach them.
Of course, another way to prevent the pass rush is find a running game. Starting running back, Joe Martinek has been inconsistent as has true freshman Jordan Thomas. Neither play has really been able to find a groove.
Opposing defenses have no reason to fear the Rutgers running game.
Some of the issues affecting the running game are the offensive line, injuries, and play calling. Maritnek is not a speed runner and the offensive play calling continues to try and run him around the edge. The running plays are becoming overly predictable.
With Martinek and Thomas unable to get the running game going, Rutgers often turns to the wildcat package. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu controls this package and has had success. Sanu, who leads the team in both rushing and receiving, is averaging 5.5 yards per carry. That average is a bit exaggerated however due to a handful of very long runs.
The wildcat package has even gotten to be to predictable.
Well, I’ve been saying for two years that the best running back on the team does not get on the field. Rutgers fans saw glimpses of this players ability last year, mostly when the games were out of reach.
D’Antwan Williams has shown flashes of brilliance and has the skills to bring excitement to the Rutgers running game. Williams actually has some of the same skills at former Rutgers star Ray Rice.
So why hasn’t Williams gotten playing time? That’s the question Rutgers fans continue to ask themselves and each other. Nobody seems to know that answer and head coach Greg Schiano has never given a straight answer on this topic.
Against Pittsburgh, Williams may get his chance. Williams has the size, speed, and quickness to be electric out of the backfield.
“I think De’Antwan is in that mix,” Schiano said. “He’s taking reps in practice, so whenever you’re taking those reps, you have the potential to get in the game. I wouldn’t be shocked if he played some Saturday.”
Rutgers will need a running game to help keep the Pittsburgh defenders from teeing off on Dodd. Maybe Rutgers fans will finally get their question answered tomorrow. Can Williams jumpstart the Rutgers running game?
We may get a glimpse of the answer Saturday at Heinz Field.
Will “The Rocket” take off?