Against Maryland’s Big Ten Worst Pass Defense, Can Rutgers Do Damage Through the Air?
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have won two of their last three games. The lone loss came against a Michigan team that was just bigger and more talented on the front lines. In Rutgers two wins, against Illinois and Purdue, the offense looked different.
Since Gio Rescigno took over as the starting quarterback, the Scarlet Knights have used a one dimensional offensive game plan. Now, keep in mind, prior to Rescigno taking over, the passing game was not exactly game changing. In six games (five starts) Kyle Bolin has averaged just 118.5 passing yards per game. He had thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions.
On the season, Rescigno has thrown just 46 passes, completing 24. He has one touchdown pass and zero interceptions while averaging just a miniscule 60 yards per game.
The focus has been on the running game. Rutgers ran for 274 yards and five touchdowns against Illinois, and followed that up with 130 yards a touchdown on the ground in the win over Purdue. The offensive line has done a nice job in the run game for the most part this season. However, blocking on passing plays has been an issue. That is a big reason Rutgers decided to make the change at quarterback and allow the mobile Rescigno to take over.
Luckily for head coach Chris Ash and the Scarlet Knights, their special teams coverage units have done a very good job with field position. This has helped the offense do just enough to win those two games. The offense has also not turned the ball over the past two games.
On Saturday, against Maryland, offensive coordinator Jerry Kill may have a chance to increase the passing attack. Maryland ranks last in the big deal in pass defense. They do however have a solid defensive line and linebackers. The Terrapins are known to use unique blitz packages under head coach D.J. Durkin.
Maryland has allowed 277.9 yards per game through the air and a Big Ten high 17 touchdowns. Can Rutgers take advantage?
This does not all land on the shoulders of Rescigno. The Scarlet Knights wide receivers have not done a very good job at getting open quickly. With the offensive lines struggles in pass protection, it’s crucial the wideouts find a way to get off their blocks and generate space so Rescigno can get rid of the ball quickly.
One positive is Rutgers top playmaker, Janarion Grant, is expected to be in the lineup when the Scarlet Knights take the field at High Point Solutions Stadium. Grant, who broke off a 65-yard run out of the wildcat formation against Michigan last weekend, missed the second half with a recurring ankle injury. Injuries have once again been his nemesis this season.
Rutgers can utilize tight end Jerome Washington and it’s healthy stable of running backs in the passing game, but it also needs wideouts to step up and make plays.
If Rutgers is going to show any signs of life through the air, Saturday may be it’s best opportunity this season.