Upon Further Review: Rutgers vs. UNC Analysis

The pain and frustration from Rutgers' 17-13 loss to North Carolina should have subsided by now, which gives time for a much clearer look at what really transpired in the game, and why. ScarletReport.com's "Upon Further Review" feature takes a look at some of the finer points of what took place, where the slow-down tape of the gives a better indication of what went right, and what went wrong.

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 a look at a slowed-down, rewound version of what took place on the field.

And the staggering truth after the 17-13 loss to North Carolina is Rutgers has a long, long ways to go on offense while the defense played extremely well up front, but had some problems in the secondary.

What To Like

Jordan Thomas
  • Freshman running back Jordan Thomas in space. Rutgers got the ball to him on swing passes, and his open field moves and shiftiness come naturally. On his 37-yard reception on a swing pass, he set up a defender with a quick step right before exploding left to double the yardage on the play.

  • The blocks by left guard Desmond Wynn, right guard Antwan Lowery and tight end D.C. Jefferson on Mohamed Sanu's 10-yard touchdown run. A seal here, a seal here and a seal there make it a beautifully executed play.

  • Defensive tackle Eric LeGrand. He played markedly more on first down, taking the snaps Charlie Noonan usually receives, and was active. His explosion, quickness and tireless motor added a dynamic to the front-four that was not present the first two games, and that is not meant to take away from Noonan.

  • Cornerback Logan Ryan's play in the nickel packages. He made a fantastic read in a zone defense to move up and make the tackle on third-and-10 completion in the second quarter.
  • Sanu. He was the best receiver, and also averted a handful of tackles for loss with quick moves in the backfield when the snap was bad, or the blocking was porous. If not for his play, Rutgers may have had less than 150 yards of total offense.

  • Left tackle Desmond Stapleton. He had a holding penalty, but the pressure quarterback Tom Savage felt was not because of Stapleton, and didn't come from that side of the offensive line.

  • Savage's decision-making. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano talked about it Sunday, and he was right on.
    Other than the first interception, which was thrown into a crowd and never had a chance when he could have taken an underneath route for a small gain a field goal chance, and holding onto the ball too long two or three times, Savage made good reads and showed he knew when to get out of the pocket and scramble.

  • The defense's physical play. Not only did Rutgers do a great job of pursuing the ball, it also was physical, especially in the middle of the field, were UNC's receivers were hit hard time and again.

    What To Work On

  • The tackling. It was much better than against Florida International, but there were a few plays where it cost Rutgers big. UNC running back Johnnie White broke four tackles on a 27-yard reception.

    Art Forst's play at right tackle. Without belaboring the point, he missed a number of blocks by straight-out whiffing on the defender, including missing assignments and getting pushed back too often.
    In all honesty, it would not be surprising to see Forst as the focal point of an offensive line shakeup this week.

    Mohamed Sanu
  • Sanu is Rutgers' best receiver, so imagine how good he will when he gets the finer points of the position down. On a pair of long passes (one in the second quarter, one on Rutgers' last offensive play), he was slow to adjust to the ball in the air, and never gave him a chance to make a play on the ball.
    On the second one, he slowed up while the ball was in the air, then saw the ball go over his head.

  • There are so many opportunities to look at which blocking assignments failed, but check out the play following the 15-yard completion from Savage to receiver Keith Stroud.
    Rutgers is running the "Wildcat" and Wynn and Stapleton are pulling and a block that could spring a big play is flat-out missed.

  • The snaps. Center Howard Barbieri had at least six snaps in the shotgun that crushed the timing of a play, and in several instances, was the defining piece of a drive killer.

  • Savage's accuracy. He talked about a need to improve footwork, and that should help not only with the passes behind receivers (he was behind Jeremy Deering on a pair of throws near the end zone) which cost Rutgers big plays, but it will also allow him to throw the ball lower.
    Even on several completed passes, Savage's throws were much higher than the ball should be, and he could put a receiver in a vulnerable spot because of it.

  • Cornerback Brandon Bing's tackling and mental approach. He was called for an ill-advised (but correct) pass interference on a quick slant on a third-and-12 from the Rutgers 18-yard line. Even if the catch is made, Bing was in position to make the tackle and he had safety support, and it would have resulted in a field goal attempt.
    Instead, UNC scored a go-ahead touchdown three plays later.

    RT Teddy Dellaganna
  • Punt protection. Bruce Carter's punt block came when he blew past Khaseem Greene on the outside edge.

    Not To Worry

  • Don't stress about the blocked punt. With as good as Rutgers special teams are in blocking punts, it means the staff should be able to quickly identify any protection weaknesses and rectify them quickly.

    Punter Teddy Dellaganna had a booming 69-yarder and protection has not been an issue this season, so it should be fixed quickly.

    Keeping Perspective

    Joe Martinek
  • The reason the Wildcat was run so often was because running back Joe Martinek's ankle wasn't in very good shape despite him gutting it out and playing.
    It meant Rutgers' choices for an inside running game would come from either Thomas or Sanu, and with Sanu being physically able to handle the pounding of running 15 times and catching nine passes, not to mention the misdirection the Wildcat presents, it made sense for the formation to be used so frequently.

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