Rutgers comes into Big Ten play sporting a 2-1 record. They hit the road for their opener to Seattle to take on the nationally ranked Washington Huskies. The following weeks brought the likes of Howard and New Mexico to the field for Rutgers.
I chose to breakdown film of the Washington game.
Yes, Rutgers got spanked and the game was over before the first quarter concluded, but I felt I could take more away from this game as opposed to games against Howard and New Mexico because Iowa, talent wise, relates to Washington more than Howard and New Mexico do.
Rutgers' first quarter against Washington was one to forget. They allowed three deep touchdown passes as their secondary was burnt badly on all three. To make matters worse, their offense didn't even sniff the Washington side of the 50 in the first quarter. They went three and out a couple of times, punted, and turned it over.
The Hawkeyes could really take advantage of a vulnerable Rutgers secondary on Saturday. Players like Jerminic Smith and Jay Scheel will be able get behind this defense. And with C.J. Beathard throwing the football, Iowa could produce some big plays deep. One of the main reasons the receivers were able to get behind the secondary was the pass protection. Washington did a good job of protecting their QB. Some of that could be due to the fact that the Rutgers defensive line isn't stellar, but either way you slice it, the Huskies did a good job protecting Jake Browning the entire day.
If Iowa is able to do the same, I would expect similar results.
The Scarlet Knights did a decent job of settling down in the second quarter, but they had dug themselves too deep against a good Washington team at that point. That has been a big problem for them over the course of the first three games. They keep letting teams get out early. They were able to comeback against Howard and New Mexico, but in the Big Ten, that isn't going to fly.
I thought the Scarlet Knights did a solid job of getting the ball into their playmakers hands on the edges, they just came up against a beast of a defense in Washington. You could tell that they wanted to get the ball into Janarion Grant's hands, but Washington made life extremely difficult on that front.
The Knights will run a lot of screen passes and other quick throws to get the ball out of Chris Laviano's hands and into the hands of guys like Grant and Jawuan Harris. Iowa will do an exceptional job on ending these quick passes before they get started due to the tackling abilities of Desmond King and Greg Mabin.
The Knights did line up Grant in the wildcat a few times in the second half and found some success so the Hawkyes will have to keep an eye on that. In fact, they should keep track of Grant wherever he is on the field. He has playmaking ability and he's the last guy you want to beat you. The Knights also dialed up a few more blitzes to put pressure on Browning and it did work a few times.
Special teams was rough on the day for Rutgers. They allowed a kick off return for a touchdown, which was honestly just a matter of keeping contain. They also allowed a punt return for a touchdown in the game, so we could see Desmond King create some big plays.
The final thing I took from the film was; I think the Knights have the right scheme in place and the right coaches, they just don't have the correct players. They recruited a lot of guys to play in their pro-style offense and now that their new offensive coordinator has switched it up, these kids are having to adjust.
It might take a few years before Rutgers gets back on track.
In short, this is a game Iowa should dominate. After watching Rutgers, Iowa is better in nearly every aspect of the game so this should be a game Iowa wins.