Upon Further Review: Rutgers at FIU Analysis

Everything always isn't what it seems to be at first look, and that is the case regarding Rutgers' 19-14 win at Florida International. Surely, things weren't pretty, but "Upon Further Review" takes a look at the game in a slowed-down mode to give an in-depth look at what really happened, and what coach Greg Schiano means when he is talking about being a block away from big plays.

Watching the game live is one thing, and presents a real-time look at what is happening on the field.

However, pop on the game tape and you may see something different, or further validation of what your eye thought it saw while watching live.

After each Rutgers game, ScarletReport.com will take to a slowed-down, rewound version of what took place on the field.

We did that after Saturday's 19-14 win at Florida International, and learned the running game woes go way beyond the offensive line, saw some of the good things quarterback Tom Savage did and came away thoroughly impressed with the defensive effort.

What To Like

  • The defense's energy and effort. The Scarlet Knights weren't perfect, but were hustling and playing hard, and the best example came on FIU's last play from scrimmage when Rutgers defensive end Jonathan Freeny tracked down receiver T.Y. Hilton and tackled him a yard shy of the first down.

    Antwan Lowery
  • The potential of offensive guard Antwan Lowery. Rutgers wants physical lineman, and Lowery has that nasty streak of pancaking someone and then burying the defender afterward.
    Take a look at running back Jordan Thomas's in the closing minute. Not only does Lowery open the hole with a devastating block, but Thomas makes an outstanding cut to get up field for the first down.

  • Quarterback Tom Savage's pocket presence. He felt the rush, moved around in the pocket and unlike his freshman season, knew when to tuck the ball and gain positive yardage.

  • The play of defensive tackle Charlie Noonan. He is sliding down the line of scrimmage and pursuing the ball carrier very well. He finished with five tackles, most among the defensive lineman.

  • Rutgers' ability to get to the quarterback with a blitz. Bringing pressure through the middle, especially with strong safety Joe Lefeged, created confusion for the FIU offensive line in the fourth quarter.

  • The way CB Brandon Bing jump in front of Wesley Carroll's pass on the first play from scrimmage for an interception. It was a tremendous read by Bing to read the play and break quickly on a ball since the receiver had separation from his cover man, linebacker Antonio Lowery.

  • The block freshman receiver Jeremy Deering had on Mohamed Sanu's 24-yard touchdown run. Deering and tight end Evan Lampert created the running lane for Sanu, who added a textbook stiff arm to finish the run.

    What To Work On

  • Being more accountable blocking. So many examples to cite, but this goes across the board of coach Greg Schiano talked about being one block away from a big play numerous times. Here are a few examples not to single guys out, but to further illustrate was Schiano was talking about.
    Mohamed Sanu
    With six minutes left in the first quarter, Martinek had a 4-yard run in which Lowery had a pancake block, but Lampert missed a block that cost a 15- to 20-yard or more run.
    With 6:15 left in the second quarter, receiver Mason Robinson missed a block that could have sprung Sanu on a long run. Instead, he was tackled.

  • Route-running by the receivers and tight ends, and of the examples, here are three to check out:
    First, Sanu ran a 4-yard pattern on fourth-and-5 on the first series of the game. He was open and had room to extend it to the first down marker, but did not.
    Second, tight end D.C. Jefferson stopped a pattern toward the FIU sideline on a third-and-5 on Rutgers' next possession. He was open and Savage made a good pass, throwing to the open space Jefferson should have occupied.
    Third, on the failed two-point conversion try in the fourth quarter, the Rutgers receiver didn't run his pattern deep enough in the end zone, which allowed an FIU defender to come up and tackle Kordell Young after the running back made the catch in the left flat.

  • Some of Savage's decisions in throwing the ball. His interception came when he threw deep into double coverage on a one-receiver route. He said after the game it was a coverage he wasn't expecting, but that should only mean he needs to throw the ball where no one can catch it.

  • The offensive line's blocking. Rutgers' first play from scrimmage lost three yards when FIU thrashed the offensive line to get in the backfield. There were too many times guys were flat-out missing blocks and being beaten off the snap to document, even on the internet.

    RT Art Forst
  • Stopping the inside run. On several occasions, Rutgers' defensive linemen pushed to get up the field and the linebackers dropped back into coverage, allowing for a big runs through the middle because gap integrity was compromised.

  • Middle linebacker Steve Beauharnais' shoes. Well, that's the reason we are giving because Beauharnais took himself out of several plays by slipping when he tried to change direction. Coaches say that is a breakdown of fundamentals in balance.

  • Quicker package changes. Defensive tackle Eric LeGrand made a nice stop in the third quarter, but it could have been a disaster. LeGrand never made it to his defensive tackle position before the ball was snapped, so he kept running and reached the ball carrier on the far sideline.

  • Tackling. Hilton and running back Jeremiah Harden were slippery and shifty, but so are a lot of other players Rutgers will face this season. The pursuit and energy was outstanding, but a few times tackles were missed.

    Not To Worry

  • About some of the blandness of the offense. No team in the nation is showing everything it has to offer from a play-calling standpoint in the first two weeks of the season.
    Now, if Rutgers doesn't show more diversity in the next month, that is another issue. For now, it can be frustrating to watch, at times, but there is much more to show.

    Keeping Perspective

  • There is an outcry for Rutgers to go back to using a fullback as a lead blocker rather than a tight end/h-back, but it really won't matter. The Scarlet Knights' running woes aren't because the tight end is missing blocks or doing the wrong thing.
    Evan Lampert
    Rutgers cannot run the ball because the offensive line is having trouble at the point of attack, and too often the ball carrier is being hit at the line of scrimmage. The game tape shows it has much more to do with the offensive line's woes than the tight end/h-back coming out of the backfield.
    Using Edmond Laryea more won't make the linemen better, and won't keep them from getting pushed backward or missing a block.


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