Special Team Costs Rutgers in Opener
Added by Anthony Rodriguez on August 31, 2013.
Football is a three phase game, but rarely do you ever hear analysts talk about special teams in the same regard as offense and defense. When Rutgers University traveled to California Thursday night to take on Fresno State, it was special teams that proved to be the deciding factor.
Junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman and the Scarlet Knights are unable to get a victory at Fresno State, falling to the Bull Dogs in overtime 52-51.
(Photo Credit: fresnobee.com)
Some may disagree with that statement and blame the defense for the Scarlet Knights’ loss. While the defense did give up 537 yards to the Bull Dogs offense, it was three special teams plays that turned the game against the Knights.
The first came when the Knights had all of the momentum about mid-way through the second quarter. The Knights held a 20-7 lead and had Fresno on the ropes, but true freshman Janarion Grant muffed a punt leading to Fresno touchdown. The turnover led to 14 unanswered points by the Bull Dogs.
The second crucial special teams mistake came much later in the game. With just over a minute remaining junior quarterback, Gary Nova, hit wide receiver Leonte Carroo, putting the Knights up by a touchdown. Yet on the ensuing kickoff, the Knights had a breakdown in coverage which led to a 56 yard kickoff return and set the Bull Dogs up at the Knights’ 40 yard line.
The third and most costly miscue came at the end of regulation when sophomore kicker Kyle Federico missed a potential game winning field goal as time expired.
The irony of the game was the special teams unit started the game perfectly. Federico made his first three kicks of the game, which included a 48 yard boot, and Grant took the Bull Dogs’ first kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Despite the loss, there is a lot to be excited about with regards to this Knights team. Carroo’s talent was on full display Thursday, as the true sophomore caught five passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Nova looked sharp throughout the entire game and Paul James, a redshirt sophomore running back who has flown under the radar until now, turned in a monster performance, rushing for 182 yards on 22 carries.
The Knights are young, and with youth, there will come mistakes, but the talent is there. Look for this team to continue to mature and improve as the season progresses.