Rutgers coach Kyle Flood made the same the decisions – all the way down to a blown true freshman redshirt – and suffered the same result.
This time, receiver Dontae Owens debuted in a 30-point deficit. And this time, Rutgers lost 49-16 at the Big House.
“I think every year is unique because of the personnel,” Flood said on the step back from last season. “… I thought last year we had the right team to go into the Big Ten with. We had a senior quarterback that had played a lot of football. We had a lot of returning starters on the offensive line. I thought that would really help us and I think it did as we went through the year.
“This year’s team is a different team. We’ve got a first-year. We’ve got some new people up front on the offensive line … I think every year is different. I’m not ready to look forward to next year yet, because we’ve got a lot of football to play this year.”
Flood stook to his guns at the quarterback position and echoed the same statements post-game after he stuck with a struggling Chris Laviano.
Laviano received minimal help, but the passing game produced the same poor results. Rutgers threw for 97 yards with an 11-for-26 showing by Laviano.
“Offensive football is an 11-man game,” Flood said. “There is no question. But I think I left Chris in a little bit longer tonight because I think there was a lot to be gained by playing against this defense. You can’t simulate what they do on defense in practice.”
Rutgers kick returner Janarion Grant took the same approach as well, and that was a big day on special teams.
Grant is the first play in the last nine Big Ten seasons to return three kicks for touchdowns, and the latest has him in the conversation as an All-American.
As poorly as Rutgers (3-6, 1-5) played, it could still be a favorite next week against a struggling Nebraska team in Piscataway.