It is a day later than usual, but given the situation, it didn't feel right jumping right back into football with so much emotion being poured into wishing LeGrand and his family well.
That will continue to be the case, but ScarletReport.com is also trying to move forward while keeping the LeGrand's in our prayers, so we get back to the business of covering Rutgers, and that starts with the game analysis of Saturday's 23-20 win against Army.
- The mental toughness of the Scarlet Knights. Down 14 to start the fourth quarter and then after tying it, they watch as Eric LeGrand suffers his devastating neck injury.
Yet, Rutgers finds a way to remain in the moment and grind out a win in a game it had no right winning.
- The composure, pocket awareness, arm strength, quiet confidence and accuracy of quarterback Chas Dodd. He slides is the pocket well and feels pressure from all sides, and here are two plays to check out that speak to his ability:
First, the 53-yard pass to tight end D.C. Jefferson out of the end zone in the fourth quarter. Dodd had already been sacked a half-dozen times and was throwing from his own end zone. He saw Jefferson was one-on-one with Army's Travis Donovan, but needed to let the route develop.
Dodd, while in the end zone, slid in the pocket and threw the ball as he was about to get hit from behind. The throw hit Jefferson in stride to jump-start the game-tying touchdown drive.
Second, there was a 6-yard pass to Keith Stroud in overtime on a third-and-6. Dodd slid in the pocket to his left to find a throwing window but threw back to his right, between a pair of Army defenders. Dodd was able to throw slightly against his momentum because he still squared his shoulders.
- Running back Jordan Thomas' speed at the edge and continued aggressive running style. In the first quarter he lowered his shoulder after getting around the left edge of the line. His power running didn't result in more yards, but it will once he puts on 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason and develops his strength more.
- The incredible energy Antonio Lowery is bringing to the defense. He tracked plays from sideline-to-sideline to sideline and didn't worry about the Army blockers constantly diving at his ankles. His 19 tackles were amazing, but so too was the energy he zoomed around the field with, right down to the end.
- The play call for the fourth-down 3-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Great design of a play to saturate an area of the field with receivers and allow Kordell Young time to sneak underneath before a linebacker could get over and cover the running back.
- Dodd's ability to understand what a secondary is going to do. On the 16-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison, Mohamed Sanu was open on a drag route underneath. However, Dodd knew Harrison had one-on-one coverage down the field, so he waited for Harrison to fake the route inside and hit him on a perfect out-pattern for the tying score.
- Dodd's toughness. On a third-and-10 with 1:12 left, he knows he is going to get hit hard, but waits in the pocket to deliver a 22-yard pass to Jeremy Deering.
What To Work On
- The offense's line inability to stay on blocks long enough for running plays to develop. Too often guys are in the right position and the play looks like it will be blocked for a positive yardage, but a defender spins off quickly and makes the play for negative or negligible yardage
- The spotty tackling. Khaseem Greene whiffed on tackling Trent Steelman on the quarterback's first-quarter touchdown. Greene was at the edge of the line of scrimmage, but missed the play, and he wasn't the only one to have tackling problems.
Throughout the first half, Army runners consistently dragged tacklers for an extra two or three yards after contact.
- The poor punt protection. Jim Dumont's replacement, Ka'Lial Glaud, did a nice job at the back of the formation picking up an Army rusher, but another got through the middle and Alex Silvestro and Robert Jones were slow to react.
- Rutgers continues to talk about being a block away from big plays in the running game, and that was evident in the second quarter when a potential big gainer turned into a 4-yard loss when center Howard Barbieri missed a block. The play was blocked off right tackle for what could have been huge yards, but the runner never had a chance.
- Dodd's recognition of blitz packages. Several times Dodd could have completed quick passes against a blitz, but didn't see an open receiver.
One came with 6:40 left in the second quarter when Army brought seven rushers against six blockers. Mohamed Sanu was open underneath, but Dodd didn't recognize the defense and was sacked.
- The pass protection, and this goes beyond the offensive line. Three or four of the sacks could be traced to the offensive lineman, two to Dodd holding the ball too long, one poor recognition by Dodd and one to tight end D.C. Jefferson, who could not keep up with defensive e Josh McNary's stunt move to the middle on a play late in the second quarter.
- The communication/recognition along the offensive line. Army ran a lot of twists (or stunts), and too often Rutgers' offensive linemen didn't see it developing and gave the rusher a clear path to the backfield.
Also, on a running play in the third quarter, right tackle Art Forst pulled. The play was blocked for a big gain to the outside if Forst made a block. There were two Army players to block, and if he blocked one, it would ostensibly take the other defender out of the play as well and allow the running back to get to the edge.
Instead, Forst went for one defender, and it enabled the other one for a clear shot on the ball carrier.
RT Devon Watkis Not To Worry
The false starts of tackle Devon Watkis. He was thrust into a position he hadn't received much game time at when left tackle Desmond Stapleton went down with an injury. Clearly, something was missing in terms of Watkis missing snap counts or not hearing something.
It was ugly and frustrating to watch, but it should be an isolated incident. A few years back Rutgers had an offensive lineman jump early a bunch of times at Syracuse. He turned out to be fine.
- The way the clock was handled at the end of regulation, resulting in a delay of game call coming out of a timeout. At that point, coach Greg Schiano knew of the severity of defensive tackle Eric LeGrand's injury, and if it was weighing on his mind, it is understandable.
He has shown countless he knows how to use his timeouts and manipulate the clock to get Rutgers in the position it needs to be. To blame him for the poor management at the end of the fourth quarter against Army is fine, but one should also understand the circumstances, and how his mind was on winning the game and getting to Hackensack Medical Center as soon as possible.