1. Risks and Rewards – Rutgers showed a different philosophy offensively, but it unfortunately did not create a better situation. Instead of safe football, Rutgers took risk after risk. The risks paid off in many ways including a Big-Ten-high 385 total yards and a decrease from 17 punts to four. That's where the risks came in. After Rutgers protected the ball so well in recent games, including four straight without a turnover for Chris Laviano, five turnovers doomed Rutgers. It's just like Chris Ash said after the game, Giovanni Rescigno made mistakes but at least he gave Rutgers a spark.
2. Nightmare Execution – Outside of a consistent punting performance from Michael Cintron, special teams remains a liability for Rutgers. Not only did Jawuan Harris kickstart a turnover spree with his muffed punt but freshmen Dacoven Bailey and Trey Sneed both bobbled kickoffs. Add two penalties in the punt game and it was another forgettable day for this third of the equation.
3. Plenty of Separation – Senior receiver Andre Patton had no issue getting open against Illinois. Patton ran fluid routes and should have had a bigger statistical day than he did. Quarterback Chris Laviano overthrew Patton three times on potential big plays.
4. Came to Play – Cornerback Blessuan Austin stepped it up. Austin shut down the Illinois passing attack early. In the first two drives alone, the sophomore cornerback picked off a pass in the red zone, logged a tackle for loss and forced a punt on a third-down pass breakup. Cornerback play continues to improve at Rutgers.
5. To the Left– The left side of Rutgers' offensive line blocked very well, especially in the conventional run game. Tariq Cole's return to left tackle was a clear improvement, but the downgrade in competition was a part of that. Dorian Miller played one of his better games of the year after issues against powerful defensive tackles for Ohio State and Michigan.
6. Roberts Powers Up – Deonte Roberts certainly looks like a first-year starter at times, but the middle linebacker showed constant improvement after a few rough games early in the year. Roberts led Rutgers again with nine tackles and has 52 on the season.
7. Coming Home – Brian Leonard, well deserved, got most of the attention Saturday on Homecoming but plenty of former players made the trip this year. Fan attendance was down, but former players in attendance included 2008 captains Tiquan Underwood and Kevin Malast on the sidelines. Between practice squad gigs, NFL linebacker Quentin Gause put his Rutgers journalism degree to work in the radio both for Rutgers alongside David Milewski and Eric LeGrand.
8. Two Tight – Rutgers showed two tight ends multiple times in the run game. It worked best on a third-down conversion when both tight ends motioned on a counter sweep that earned Robert Martin a first down. Rutgers improved with a 61 percent success rate on third downs.
9. Hampton's Inconsistent Return – Saquan Hampton looked rusty but his return was welcome. Hampton takes fault for the first Illinois touchdown drive when a whiffed-TFL created a 61-yard reception. Jay Niemann pulled Hampton for true freshman KJ Gray on the next drive – a punt – but Hampton remained in the rotation.
10. Heads Up Football – Tight end Nick Arcidiacono kept it a one-score game with an alert change of direction. After Robert Martin lost a fumble, Arcidiacono ripped Darius Mosely down by his shoestrings for what would have otherwise been a touchdown return. Illinois missed a field goal to end the drive.