Upon Further Review: Tulane Analysis

Rutgers opened the season with a 24-12 win at Tulane, and it brought on a lot of debate about how well the Scarlet Knights played. As it will do after every game this season, ScarletReport.com took a long look at the game and offers an in-depth analysis of what worked, and what needs to get better.

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.

Saturday's 24-12 season-opening at Tulane brought a lot of questions, some in a good way and others in a concerning way. Did quarterback Gary Nova play poorly or better than it looked? What happened on third down? Why was the running game so successful?

ScarletReport.com has its take on those issues and more.

What To Like

  • It has to start on the offensive line. Rutgers was physical and looked like it played as a unit. It handled pressure in the passing game well and opened up plenty of holes.

    It may seem modest, but compare it with the last few seasons and the Scarlet Knights offensive line got off to a tremendous start. Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins combined for 165 on 30 carries, which is a 5.5 yard average. There were no false start penalties, although there a few penalties on the unit.

    And the production could have been higher as there was definitely yardage left on the field. One instance came on the game's first play. Jamison made a nice run to gain seven yards, but the play was blocked well on the outside and could have been a 20-yard run if he bounced the play outside.

  • Left guard Antwan Lowery played very well. He was getting to the second level to make his blocks, and was a lead blocker down the field on several successful screen passes. He was fine with pulling, which Rutgers did a lot with its guards, and stayed on his blocks well.

  • Linebacker Khaseem Greene finished with 14 tackles and he played sideline-to-sideline and was an influence in so many plays. At times, he couldn't be blocked, like with 5:37 left in the first quarter when Tulane had a screen pass set up but Greene got past two blockers to make the tackle.

  • Defensive tackle Scott Vallone had one tackle, but he had a very good game. He got a tremendous push off the snap of the ball and disrupted running play after running play, and he was a key figure in helping Rutgers collapse the pocket several times. Vallone split time at 3-tech and nose guard, and was effective from both spots.

  • Both coordinators did a nice job. On the offensive side, Dave Brock's plan was to run the ball and not have quarterback Gary Nova throw over the middle much, and when he did throw over the middle, it was short. Many of Nova's throws were safe to the outside of the field, but only a few yards past the line of scrimmage. He also mixed in a few screen passes and while the offense was vanilla, the idea with this team is to not let the offense beat the Scarlet Knights.

    On the defensive side, Robb Smith used a nice mix of pressure and letting his secondary play in coverage. It is a lot easier to call a game when the front four is dominant in the running game, and it was, but Smith did a nice job off of adjusting. At times, on third-and-long Rutgers would drop eight guys into coverage, and it took a few pinpoint passes for Tulane to convert, but on the first play of the fourth quarter Smith chose to blitz on third-and-long and forced an incompletion when Greene hit the quarterback, who had to throw early.

  • He isn't talked about much, but defensive end Myles Jackson was active playing over the right tackle in place of Marvin Booker. Jackson moved quickly in space and was a factor in stopping the run. He needs to develop more as a pass rusher, but he did a good job against the run.

  • The tackling was very good. The Scarlet Knights swarmed to the ball and also didn't give up many yards after contact.

  • Safety Lorenzo Waters was a key member of blitz packages in his first start, and he also did a good job coming to the line of scrimmage and getting involved in plays.

    What To Work On

  • Quarterback Gary Nova needs to improve his accuracy. While he didn't play terrible, there is plenty to work on. He managed the game and didn't take unnecessary chances, but his accuracy was an issue.

    Nova through 20 passes, and in charting those passes nine were good throws, seven were poor throws or bad reads – he didn't see Brandon Coleman in the corner of the end zone at the end of the first half and he threw to the wrong spot when Miles Shuler correctly ran an out – and four times he threw the ball away to avoid a sack.

  • Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan is one of the best in the Big East, but he got off to a rough start. He was called for defensive pass interference, beaten on several plays and even when he batted a ball away along the sideline in the second quarter, he had to scramble to get in the play.

  • Placekicker Kyle Federico made a field goal and converted all three extra points, but he missed a first quarter field. Yes, it was his first kick as a college player, but he is good enough to make it and should have made it.

  • Middle linebacker Steve Beauharnais has to be more active. He finished with three tackles, and while that is partially a byproduct of Rutgers playing a lot of dime packages which means he comes out, he didn't leave an imprint on the game.

Editor's note: Rutgers had four possessions in the second half and 10 for the game. The offense scored on 30 percent of its possessions, and four of its possessions resulted in drives of more than 45 yards.

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