1. Consistency at Quarterback – Chris Laviano did as expected at quarterback, and that was all Rutgers needed against a poor Kansas defense. Kansas, for some reason, did not prepare for play-action hits to the tight ends and that led to a solid day for Laviano. Down-field arm strength and decision-making when under pressure remain concerns, and that was never clearer than his second-quarter interception.
2. Better Game-Day Flow – Mistakes were still present, but Rutgers looked more comfortable and relaxed with a full week of preparation for interim coach Norries Wilson. Rutgers did not have to waste timeouts, substitutions ran more smoothly and penalties were down.
3. Hester’s First Start – Rutgers had more speed side to side with red-shirt freshman Kiy Hester in for the injured Davon Jacobs. Hester attacked against the run, but nerves got the better of him on the first drive with a dropped easy interception. Hester saved a few big plays after coverage issues at linebacker.
4. Strong to the Left – Between some J.J. Denman struggles and a less-than-healthy Chris Muller, Rutgers was significantly better when running to the left side of the offensive line. New starter Dorian Miller is arguably the most consistent offensive lineman right now, and Muller pulled well on runs to the left. The strength to the left gave more credibility to Laviano in play action.
5. The Ball is the Program -- Kansas is not a turnover-forcing team, but Rutgers certainly made it look like one. For an offense designed to protect the football, Rutgers struggled with three turnovers. The Kansas defense averaged just one turnover per game before Saturday.
6. Strong Up Front – Nose tackle Sebastian Joseph played an explosive game. He broke through with multiple quarterback hurries and ate up a ton of space. A second-quarter knee injury did not slow him down at all.
7. Longa Lingers – Junior Steve Longahad a rough game in coverage. Kansas attacked him across the middle, and Longa was often a step slow in pass coverage. He logged a game-high 11 tackles, but was responsible for the two biggest Jayhawks passes in the second half.
8. New Faces on the Defensive Line – Preferred walk-on Darnell Davis Jr. enjoyed a solid day off the edge for Rutgers. Primarily a special teams player, he worked more at defensive end today and earned an impressive TFL during the third quarter that led to a turnover on downs.
9. Rutgers Loses Three Points – A Derrick Nelson penalty cost Rutgers three points in its first drive. A pre-snap infraction pulled Rutgers out of field goal range. Offensive line penalties in the home environment remain a concern.
10. Bateky’s Bigger Role – True freshman Jon Bateky saw more snaps on the defensive line with Darius Hamilton officially out for the season. Batkey backed up Julian Pinnix-Odrick, and he got a good initial burst on passing downs. Look for the impressive early-enrollee to handle his role well.