Who’s to Blame for Rutgers Inconsistent Passing Attack?
Added by Gregg Snyder on September 10, 2012.
Gary Nova, No. 15, and the Rutgers passing attack needs to improve.
Entering the 2012 season, Rutgers had high hopes for their offensive attack. With a pair of talented young running backs and what many called the best wide receiver group in the Big East, the only question was at quarterback. Would Gary Nova or Chas Dodd be the starter? That was the question entering training camp. Prior to the regular season opener, head coach Kyle Flood named Nova the starter. The thought was, Nova had improved his play from last season and was ready to lead a high scoring offense.
Through two games, Nova and the Scarlet Knights offense have been inconsistent. You could even call their performance uninspiring.
In the first two games of the season, Rutgers is averaging 25 points. They have averaged 315 yards of offense per game while the quarterback has completed 55% of his passes. Those number all sound good, right? So what’s the problem?
Well, to start, the 25 points per game have been assisted by a few scores by the defense and special teams. The offense has not put the ball in the endzone enough to carry the team. Wide receiver Brandon Coleman leads the team with three touchdowns. Behind him is cornerback Brandon Jones who has two (one on special teams). Running backs Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins each have one score on record this season.
Another problem; the opponents. So far this season, Rutgers has played Tulane and Howard. For an offense that was expected to produce at a high level, they surely have not shown that ability against lesser opponents. Tulane had one of the worst defenses in the country last season and Howard is a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team. These are teams Rutgers should handle easily, in all areas of the game.
Nova needs to improve his decision making as well as his accuracy throwing the ball; the same problems he had last season. He has the arm strength to be a good quarterback. So far this season, you can say Nova has played ‘ok’. Rutgers needs him to be good. In order to take his game to the next level however, he needs help.
As mentioned earlier, the wide receiver group was expected to be the strength of the team. Brandon Coleman, Mark Harrison, Tim Wright, Quron Pratt, and the rest were thought to be the best group in the Big East Conference. So far however, they have not done much to get the Rutgers faithful excited. Harrison leads the team with eight reception, but he is averaging just 4.6 yards per catch.
Coleman leads with 89 yards on four catches, three of which went for touchdowns. Tim Wright has five catches. After that, the only other wide receiver with a caught pass is Quron Pratt who has one for six yards.
Dropped passes was an issue last season and it appears to have carried over into 2012. Sure, Nova may not have pin-point accuracy, but many of his passes are catchable. If the receivers are as good as advertised, many of the passes should be caught. Especially when the ball hits them in the chest, or they get both hands up in the air.
Nova has thrown two interceptions. The first game in the opener against Tulane in which Nova made a poor decision. On Saturday, against Howard, Nova dropped back and once again probably made a poor decision. The throw wasn’t great either. However, tight end D.C. Jefferson did not help out. It’s unlikely Jefferson could have caught the throw, but with his long reach, he should have been able to jump and at least tip the ball. Instead, Jefferson made a lackadaisical effort to raise his arm and the ball landed in the hands of a Howard defender.
There were a handful of other drops during the Howard game as well. Nobody said Gary Nova is a great quarterback. He’s not. He is however, good enough to lead a team full of talented skill players. Those skill players need to help out their QB, catch a tough pass, then turn up and make a big play.
We’ve heard time and time again about the depth of the receiver position for Rutgers. Well, if it’s so deep and the starters are not making the necessary plays, maybe it’s time for Flood to reach deeper and give some others a shot. Jeremy Deering missed the Howard game with an ankle injury, but when he’s healthy again, let’s get him more involved in the offense. He has shown he can be a big play guy. Get the ball in his hands. How about Miles Shuler? Get him more involved. Maybe even true freshman Leonte Carroo. Sometimes you have to shake things up to make a difference.
With big games coming up next on the schedule, on the road against South Florida and Arkansas, the offense must improve it’s overall game. With a slow start on Thursday against USF, you may here more and more Rutgers fans asking for Chas Dodd to replace Nova. Now, let’s be honest, that’s not the answer. And it’s not fair. Nova needs to improve, but the receivers need to give him some help.
Someone in the passing game needs to step up and make a big play.
At the end of the day, health and victory is what’s important. Rutgers is currently undefeated through two games. With conference play ready to begin Thursday night, winning games with an inconsistent passing attack will become much more difficult.