- The running by receiver Jeremy Deering. If you want to see what makes him so good at running the Wildcat, check out Rutgers' third offensive play of the game. He may be 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, but he makes his body small and squeezed through a tight crack for a big gain and a first down.
He also exhibits a tremendous burst to get through the line of scrimmage and finishes runs with power by constantly moving his feet.
- Rutgers' blitz packages. Safety Joe Lefeged spent more time at the line of scrimmage than in the secondary, but that wasn't all. The Scarlet Knights constant sent linebackers, safeties and even went with a rare cornerback blitz when Brandon Bing sacked Ryan Nassib in the third quarter.
It was risky, but effective, so kudos to the staff for having the confidence and courage to call it.
- The ability of the offensive staff to adapt, even if you don't like the offensive philosophy. Because Syracuse is so blitz heavy, Rutgers tried to exploit the Orange in the running game.
Unable to do it in a conventional manner, Rutgers went to six offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage, in addition to a tight end, and also used offensive lineman Antwan Lowery in the backfield.
Syracuse knew was coming, but couldn't stop it.
- Backup punter Kyle Sullivan's work. He provided hang time and was consistent in place of injured Teddy Dellaganna. He gave the coverage team plenty of time to get down field and make plays.
- The athleticism of red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Michael Larrow. With 9:09 left in the second quarter, Larrow spun off his block to make a tackle on Delone Carter.
- The pursuit of the defense. The tackling was markedly better, and so was the pursuit to the ball carrier. The effort was absolutely sensational.
What To Work On
- The conventional running game. While the Wildcat produced plenty of yards, and was the reason Rutgers was able to move the ball at times, it renders a huge part of the passing game ineffective in that play-action doesn't work.
Throwing the ball down the field. In the first half quarterback Chas Dodd dropped back to attempt passes down the field five times. He was sacked twice and hit while throwing two other times.
It makes it so Rutgers' offense in the passing game is also limited and clogs the routes and open space, and gives very little chance of underneath routes on zone coverages.
- The blitz pickup. Rutgers even tried to keep a pair of running backs in the backfield to help protect, but it didn't help. When Dodd was sacked in the first quarter, Kordell Young and Mason Robinson were in the backfield, but both missed their blocks.
- The field goal unit. On placekicker San San Te's 47-yard miss in the first half, the snap was and could have thrown the timing off. On Te's 45-yard miss late in the fourth quarter, the snap was low but it did not bounce and holder Kyle Sullivan got it down cleanly.
Although he didn't get the seams facing the front, he did get a nice spin on it. Te just didn't hit it well.
- The lack of burst from the running backs. Kordell Young and De'Antwan Williams both had opportunities to run through a hole, but couldn't get there quick enough. Instead, a potential 10-yard gain was stopped at three and four yards.
- The lack of protection on Young's pass attempt. True, Robinson was wide open and all that was needed was air under the pass. By on Young's option pass in the second quarter, he was hurried making the throw and hit hard when he released it.
- Dodd's accuracy. He threw behind D.C. Jefferson in the first quarter, never gave receiver Mark Harrison a chance on a fade route in the second quarter and threw the ball on the feet of Jeremy Deering just before the half on a swing pass.
- The play calling late. On Young's sweep right that lost eight yards, left guard Desmond Wynn missed a block. When Savage was sacked on third-and-12 to turn a 36-yard field goal attempt into a 45-yarder, Wynn missed a block and Young was late picking up the blitz.
Chas Dodd Not To Worry
Dodd had a bad game. He was 3 of 11 for 30 yards and missed some open receivers and didn't look comfortable. When he was leading a fourth-quarterback comeback against Connecticut, we reminded everyone there will be rough patches.
Now, because he did not look good against Syracuse doesn't mean he is terrible. It is what happens with a freshman quarterback.
- Some folks don't think a bowl game is worth while, but this is clearly a young team that will benefit greatly from an extra three or four weeks of practice. While going to a bowl at 7-5 or 6-6 may not be too exciting, think what having amounts to an extra spring practice on the schedule can do for the development of Dodd, the offensive line and Deering at receiver.