5 Thoughts On The Quick Lane Bowl

5 Thoughts and what's next for the Quick Lane Bowl

Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl
Rutgers 40, North Carolina 21

And You Care Because … Rutgers jumped out to a 23-0 first half lead helped by touchdown runs from Josh Hicks and Robert Martin and a 34-yard Andre Patton catch. UNC tried to come back with a 76-yard drive, culminating with a one-yard Marquise Williams touchdown run to start the second half, but the Scarlet Knights answered 34-yard Andrew Turzilli touchdown catch ad a 28-yard Martin run. UNC scored 14 unanswered points late in the fourth, but it was too late.
What Else? Rutgers RB Josh Hicks ran 19 times for 202 yards and a score, and Robert Martin ran 19 times for 100 yards and two scores.
- North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 25-of-37 passes for 198 yards and a score, and ran 15 times for 51 yards and a score
- Total yards: Rutgers 524 – North Carolina 482
- Third down conversions: North Carolina 6-of-16 – Rutgers 2-of-10
Game Rating: C-

By Pete Fiutak
1. Lost in the fog of the regular season was how by the Big Ten really was in September, but Rutgers came up with one of the few bright spots with a road win over Washington State. On a day when Illinois was pantsed by a Conference USA team, Rutgers once again came up with something the Big Ten can hang its hat on. It might not rank up there or be remembered if Ohio State beats Alabama or Wisconsin takes care of Auburn, but it was still a dominant win over a mid-level ACC team. Quietly, the Scarlet Knights finished up with a nice season with eight wins, lots of offense, and promise. Against North Carolina, the running game rumbled at will – averaging a Melvin Gordon-like 8.1 yards per carry – and there was actually enough defense in the first half to make America change the channel in a blowout. It might be only one year, but considering how dismissed Rutgers was as an add-on, it did more than what the Big Ten could’ve asked for.

By Rich Cirminiello
2. Win-or-else. It’s the situation sure to be facing Larry Fedora in 2015.

Coaches preach consistency. Each of Fedora’s last two teams had losing streaks of at least four games. Coaches stress the importance of finishing. Fedora’s Tar Heels were unequivocally dreadful in their final two games of 2014, getting bombarded by rival NC State and Rutgers in today’s Quick Lane Bowl by a combined score of 75-28. And while defense still wins championships, the Carolina D was once again embarrassingly bad, yielding well over 300 yards on the ground to a Rutgers team employing rookie backups in the backfield.

Three years after beginning his tenure in Chapel Hill with so much promise and enthusiasm, Fedora is running out of time. His teams lack physicality, discipline and, most of all, consistency. The Tar Heels are like a Christmas grab bag. You just never know what you’re going to get. This program has the facilities and the pool of talent to be a perennial contender in the ACC Coastal Division. But as this evening’s bowl game plainly showcased for four miserable quarters, Carolina has a long way to go before maximizing its potential as a program.

E-mail Phil Harrison
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3. Consider this a first step towards a climb towards something better for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights had little expectations as they joined the Big Ten and started penciling in the two-deep roster for 2014. And while there was only modest success in the Big Ten this year, a seven-win regular season and a Quick Lane bowl victory is a good start towards raising some eyebrows in Piscataway.

The television money and exposure are now there with all the Big Ten provides, and if Kyle Flood can ever get things close to where it was when former Greg Schiano has his teams “chopping wood” the New York/New Jersey area might start to gather an identity and pride for the area team.

This year could be a page-turner towards an area traditionally behind pro sports. There’s room for college football in the largest television market in the country, and it’ll be up to Flood to start to get into the sports psyche of the area now that the deep pockets of the Big Ten are bank-rolling the efforts towards respectability. Get things going in an area with so many people and athletic talent, and it might be possible to lock-down recruiting in the area, and turn Rutgers into a Broadway production.

4. What’s next for North Carolina
Tight end Jack Tabb is done. Other than him, all the starters are back on offense. Marquise Williams never received enough national respect or attention, but that’s going to end as he turns into one of the most hyped quarterbacks of the offseason. All five starters are back on the line to protect him, and everyone returns in the backfield with T.J. Logan and Romar Morris leading the way. The top five receivers are also back led by Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins.

The shaky defense loses a few key parts up front, but end Dajaun Drennon and tackle Justin Thomason can be built around, and leading pass rusher Jessie Rogers returns. The secondary gets three starters back – only losing leading tackler, FS Tim Scott – and four of the top six tacklers return. Both kickers – PK Thomas Moore and P Tommy Hibbard – have to be replaced.

5. What’s next for Rutgers
There’s firepower returning as long as the quarterback situation is settled early on. Leonte Carroo and the top receivers are all back, and the running game should be great if Paul James can return to form to go along with all the other options – everyone who finished with a positive rushing yard returns. Three starters are gone up front, but LT Keith Lumpkin and RG Chris Muller are back.

The defense that struggled so much has the most work to do in the secondary, losing three starters, but there are plenty of other options. Leading tackler Steve Longa returns along with fellow linebacker Quentin Gause, but four of the top six and five of the top eight tacklers are gone. P Joey Roth and PK Kyle Federico are back.

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