1. Freshman Focus – Let's start with the positives today, because there are not many. Cornerback Damon Hayes far exceeded expectations in his first-career start. Hayes tackled better than the safeties or linebackers alongside a consistent day in coverage. Speaking of cornerbacks, Isaiah Wharton shook off his Indiana performance with ease.
2. Real Development – The difference between this Tylin Oden and his other in-game opportunities came in personnel. Not only did he see his most extensive action since Ohio State, but this time Oden played entirely with the starting unit. Oden followed his play-calling well but didn't throw accurately enough for receivers to make plays on the run. On the ground, he wasn't enough to seriously challenge the shutout.
3. This Deal is Getting Worse All the Time – Rutgers coach Chris Ash has been consistently critical of his special teams, and Saturday showed more reasons why. On top of a nonexistent return game and no range on field goals, the mental errors hit Rutgers again with an inexcusable roughing the punter on Dacoven Bailey. Meanwhile on record watch – nine more punts for Michael Cintron keep Big Ten (86) and Rutgers (92) records as likely outcomes with 78 on the year.
4. No Real Opportunities – A 2.3 yard-per-return mark for Jawuan Harris does not tell the real story in the punt game. Harris has a chance to be a good one, but not when three gunners are instantly in his face. Harris fielded all four punts cleanly and in stride but never had a chance with a lack of blocking.
5. That's Why – For those that wanted to see Giovanni Rescigno earlier at quarterback, two more turnovers shows the same ball-security issues he showed during training camp. Rescigno is not the same weapon without his mobility. The result was a weak homecoming on 6-of-16 passing and 40 yards.
6. Safety Experiment – Anthony Cioffi got the most criticism because of two early touchdowns but Saquan Hampton and Kiy Hester didn't fare very well either. Hester tackled well in front of him but gave up a touchdown of his own on his first drive in for Cioffi. Hampton did not tackle consistently.
7. Chance for a Senior – Rutgers gave Carlton Agudosi his biggest role of the season, often ahead of John Tsimis at the third receiver spot. While encouraging to see Jafar Williams try something new in the passing game, Agudosi's three first-quarter targets were incomplete including an offensive pass interference call.
8. Holding Pattern – Tariq Cole may be one of the Big Ten's most underrated starters, but his first quarter was not a productive one at left tackle. In addition to his hold that cost Rutgers a first down, Cole could not hold blocks on two Justin Goodwin runs that died in the backfield. Michigan State's aggressiveness on passing plays hurt Cole.
9. Telegraph Road – Rescigno locked in on too many receivers last week, and Michigan State was ready for the same thing. A pick six for Demetrius Cox – the sixth turnover since Rescigno replaced Chris Laviano – came on a telegraphed pass attempt.
10. Punt from the 30 – A punt on the 30-yard line when down by three touchdowns is glaring. The bigger play-calling problem came right beforehand when Justin Goodwin went down with a three-yard loss. After Goodwin struggled on first and second down, Rutgers went to him again on third and 8 to force the punt. One Gerald Holmes run later and Michigan State was on the 30-yard line anyway.