It was an obvious rough night for Rutgers in a 49-7 loss to No. 1 Ohio State, and the issues started on special teams in the eyes of head coach Kyle Flood.
Rutgers missed a first-quarter field goal off the left upright, and field position became a problem early.
“It was not a very good game for us on special teams,” Flood said. “I didn’t think our kickoff return team did a very good job. We had a punt blocked on an up and under, and we’ve got to do a better job of shutting that down. We had two holding calls on kickoff return, I think they were the first two of the year.”
Flood shook up special teams in the offseason when he replaced linebackers coach Bob Fraser with tight ends coach.
The Saturday issues included a Kiy Hester miss on the punt block and just 13 yards per return for Janarion Grant.
“When you play the No. 1 team in the country and a team as talented and well-coached as Ohio State is, you’ve got to play good team football,” Flood said. “Penalties on kickoff return immediately put the offense in a hole. Then if you don’t have a good drive on offense, you put the defense in a hole and it’s not good team football. I think that’s where it starts.”
After 101 points allowed in the last two games, the Rutgers defense also falls into a tough position.
“Two different styles of offenses that we’ve played against, so I don’t know you can say that there are reasons for one or the other but we’re playing against two talented quarterbacks, and we’ve got to do a better job of getting people on the ground,” Flood said. “We’ve got to do a better job of executing our defense. Now this week we’ll have new challenges with Wisconsin’s offense doing that.”
The re-injury to Leonte Carroo ended his night at halftime, and an update comes tomorrow via Flood’s injury report policy.
“I thought [Carroo] looked pretty good,” Flood said. “I thought he had good burst. He made a couple of catches, he just kind of got rolled up a little bit on one of the catches, I think the one by the sideline and we didn’t feel like if he came out for the second half, he’d be the same way, so we shut him down.”