Upon Further Review: Howard Analysis

Rutgers won its home opener 26-0 against Howard, but the offense struggled again. 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.

Rutgers beat Howard 26-0 as the defense was dominant. However, the offense sputtered and had difficulty getting out of its own way.

What To Like

  • Quarterback Gary Nova made very good decisions throughout the game, and it began on the first series when he didn't see anyone open. There was a big hole in the middle of the defense so he tucked the ball and ran for a first down on second-and-18.

    Furthermore, he didn't force throws. He threw to the open receivers and got rid of the ball quickly. Several times he went through his progressions for a dump off pass rather than try and fit the ball into a tight window.

    The two touchdown passes to Brandon Coleman were very well thrown balls. The first he looked off the safety and the second he showed beautiful touch to the corner of the end zone.

    Khaseem Greene
  • The blitz pickups by the running backs, particularly Jawan Jamison were very good. It was recognized quickly and the block was made to allow time to throw.

  • Weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene played at an incredibly fast rate again, and his burst to get to the ball carrier is really something to behold. It enables him to make so many tackles, and also play in a physical nature not many others do.

  • The offensive line communicated well, which is why there were very few times Howard's defensive front seven were in the backfield.

  • Rutgers scouted Howard's offense sensationally, and defensive coordinator Robb Smith deserves a ton of credit because there were times a Rutgers defender was waiting for the play to develop just so a tackle could be made.

    The Scarlet Knights also showed very little concern in Howard's ability to throw the ball by crowing the line of scrimmage.

  • Jamison's mix of vision and quick feet really stood out. On a play late in the third quarter, fullback Michael Burton missed a block and Jamison was met in the backfield. The play was designed to go left, but Jamison eluded the tackler, bounced the play to the right and wound up with an 11-yard gain.

  • Max Issaka was active in his Rutgers debut, and the red-shirt freshman defensive end showed an ability to run down the line of scrimmage and pursue plays from behind. He just needs to be in better shape after missing training camp.

  • There is a reason Marcus Cooper is starting at cornerback. He covers well, has fluid hips and he tackled well. Howard didn't throw the ball much, and when it did, it rarely looked Cooper's way. He had good coverage, and he got off blocks well and made tackles.

  • Taj Alexander filled in nicely at right guard. He got off quickly on the snap and stayed on his blocks.

  • Keith Lumpkin played left tackle in the closing minutes and had several nice blocks to open holes for running back Ben Martin. Lumpkin did of very good job of staying engaged with the defensive player and driving him backward.

    What To Work On

  • There is no other way to put it than to say the receivers were brutal in the passing game. Coleman, Quron Pratt, Tim Wright, Harrison and Tyler Kroft each dropped passes right in their hands, and Harrison also made a catch with his knee on the ground when the ball was thrown well enough for that not to happen.

    Mark Harrison
  • This is a tough one but it is being put in the "What to Work On" category because the offense is not producing points.

    One of the issues with the offense is the passing game is more horizontal than vertical, and the receivers aren't making big plays after the catch. Nova went 15 of 27, and few passes are thrown over the middle, and even fewer are thrown over the middle and more than seven yards down the field. Of the 27 passes, went to the left, five to the middle and seven to the right. There were also three dump offs/screens. And of those, only a handful were thrown down the field, meaning everything is short and quick.

  • Matt McBride had mixed results playing in place of injured Betim Bujari at center. He reached, at times, and it that hurt when Rutgers took a shot down the field to Coleman in the first quarter. McBride missed on a block and it forced Nova to deliver the ball much earlier than he wanted to and the pass fell incomplete.

  • The depth of the kickoffs must improve. A pair of kicks in the third quarter went into the end zone, but it was helped by a nice breeze. With Rutgers' defense, teams will have a hard time going 75 yards if the ball is kicked for a touchback.

    <;li>Chalk it up to a bad game, but Burton missed a number of blocks from his fullback position.

  • Martin, who played running back late in the fourth quarter, needs to work on his lateral movement. He showed very good acceleration and burst, but he had trouble changing direction quickly and shuffled his feet several times on runs to the left.

    Gary Nova
    Not To Worry

  • Nova didn't play nearly as badly as it may have looked to the naked eye. He made some very good throws and even the interception wasn't a bad read. It was just a bad throw that sailed. His decision making was good, and his presence in the pocket is improving and was good the first two games of the season.

    Keeping Perspective

    Taj Alexander
  • Rutgers offense has been bad the last few seasons, so to think this year it is going to be an offense that puts up 40 points a game is unrealistic. The positives are the offensive line has allowed one sack in two games and is getting a good push to open holes for the running backs. Yes, the competition hasn't been great, but even against bad competition the last few seasons running the ball was impossible unless it was the "Wildcat."

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