Spring Football Game Review

I've had this article ready for over a month now. We are trying to add a new feature to some of our articles -- video clips. However, we first need permission from the Rutgers administration before we can implement it. With summer camp approaching, I didn't want to hold the article any longer. Hopefully, we can add the video clips later. Keep your fingers crossed. We think that it will be a great addition to our content.


On April 24th, Head Coach Greg Schiano concluded his fourth spring camp at Rutgers with the annual spring game.  The Scarlet team defeated the White team 10-7 in a sloppy affair that was dominated by the injury-depleted defenses. 

Living in Sacramento, I missed spring camp.  Big surprise.  However, thanks to the aggressive marketing of the athletic department, the spring game was televised three times – live on Comcast and subsequently on Madison Square Garden and the Sunshine Network.  I was able to obtain a copy of the game a few weeks ago.  Since there really isn't much else going on of interest in the sports world beside the NBA playoffs – and the Kings are dead – I took some time to review the game in detail.  To provide a little perspective, I'll review the rosters of each team first.  Then, I'll recap the game and offer some thoughts on the game.  Lastly, I'll hand out my game balls for the Scarlet-White game. 


Rather than matching up first team against second team (or first team offense against first team defense), Schiano divided his roster pretty evenly among the White and Scarlet teams.  Each team contained a relatively equal mix of first and second team players manning the offensive and defensive units of each team.  A rash of injuries on the defense meant that the defensive rosters were liberally sprinkled with walk-ons, especially at LB. Also, the staff gave ample playing time to the backups on both teams – third and fourth team members of the roster.  Here is a look at the Scarlet-White game roster, as near as I could determine from my review, with starters listed first.


Scarlet-White Game Roster

Scarlet Team


White Team


Sr Chris Baker (3rd)

Sr Donny Diaz (4th)


So Willie Foster (3rd)

So Marcus Daniels (2nd)

RS Sr Ron Green (1st)


RS Fr Pedro Sosa (2nd)

RS Sr Brian Duffy (1st)


RS So Randy Boxill (2nd)

RS Jr Mike Clancy (3rd)

RS Jr Davon Clark (1st)


RS Jr Mark Segaloff (3rd)

RS So Joe Henley (4th)

RS Fr Mike Fladell (2nd)


RS Jr John Glass (1st)

RS Sr Clint Dato (2nd)

Dan Biernacki (walk-on)


RS Jr Sameeh McDonald (1st)

RS Sr Ray Pilch (co-1st)

Sr Chris Loomis (co-2nd)


RS So Clark Harris (co-1st)

So Sam Johnson (co-2nd)

RS Jr Tres Moses (1st)

Jr Corey Barnes (4th)


Sr Jerry Andre (2nd)

Jeff Ternyila (walk-on)

Nkosi Remy (walk-on)

Jr Ryan Hart (1st)

RS So Anthony Cali (co-2nd)


RS Fr Terrence Shawell (co-2nd)

RS Jr Ishmael Medley (co-2nd)


Sr Cedric Brown (co-2nd)

RS So Brian Leonard (1st)

Sr Clarence Pittman (co-2nd)


So Justise Hairston (1st)

RS So Brian Leonard (co-2nd)


Jr Val Barnaby (1st)


RS Jr Piana Lukabu (1st)

Sr David Harley (1st)


So Nate Robinson (2nd)

RS Sr J'Vonne Parker (3rd)

Richard Johnson (walk-on)


So Ramel Meekins (3rd)

RS Jr Ryan Neill (2nd)

Fr Jamaal Westerman (3rd)


RS Fr Eric Foster (2nd)

RS Fr Rocky Ricks (3rd)

RS Fr Kenny Gillespie (3rd)


Jr Terry Bynes (2nd)

Dominic Piegaro (walk-on)


Maurice Hines (walk-on)

So Quintero Frierson (3rd)


Anthony Campanile (walk-on)

Sal Fama (walk-on)

Sr Eddie Grimes (1st)


So Joe Porter (1st)

Jr Jason Nugent (1st)


RS Sr Jason Grant (3rd)

RS So Bryan Durango (2nd)

Jr Dondre Asberry (2nd)


Brandon Wood (walk-on)

RS Fr Tre Timbers (2nd)

Matt Mitchell (walk-on)


Leslie Collins (walk-on)

So Derrick Roberson (2nd)



The following players missed the Scarlet-White game:

  • Jr WR Shawn Tucker (1st) – groin
  • RS So C William Vogt (2nd) – shoulder
  • Jr TB Markis Facyson (3rd) – knee
  • Sr DE Alfred Peterson (2nd) – suspended
  • RS Sr DT Gary Gibson (1st) – groin
  • Jr DT Luis Rivas (2nd) – groin
  • Jr SLB Berkeley Hutchinson (1st) – shoulder and ankle
  • So MLB DeVraun Thompson (1st) – groin
  • Jr MLB Will Gilkison (2nd) – shoulder
  • Jr WLB William Beckford (1st) – knee
  • RS Jr WLB Brad Cunningham (2nd) – groin
  • Sr FS Jarvis Johnson (1st) – foot


Scarlet opened the game 3-n-out with a dropped pass on 3rd down.  White quickly moved into scoring position but QB Terrence Shawell fumbled the center exchange and Scarlet MLB Dom Piegaro recovered.  Scarlet again punted without converting a first down after QB Ryan Hart tripped and then was sacked on back-to-back plays.  White again crossed midfield but stalled immediately thereafter.  Scarlet again went 3-n-out to close the 1st Quarter, victimized by two dropped passes by WR Tres Moses.  Shawell again fumbled the snap and Scarlet DE Jamaal Westerman recovered near midfield.  QB Anthony Cali took the helm as the Scarlet drove 48 yards in 12 plays, converting two first downs on penalties and scoring on a one yard run by TB Clarence Pittman.  White went three-n-out.  Hart returned to lead the two-minute drill but threw a desperation INT on the final play of the half.  Scarlet led 7-0 after a very sloppy first half. 

Cali led Scarlet into the red zone to open the 2nd Half but was sacked to take Scarlet out of FG range.  White gained one first down but was forced to punt.  Scarlet failed to convert 4th-n-1 at the S34, giving White excellent field position.  Two plays later, TB Justise Hairston broke a 29-yard TD run untouched up the middle to tie the game at 7-7 at the end of the 3rd Quarter.  Scarlet responded with an 8-play, 57-yard drive, culminating in a 25-yard FG by PK Ryan Sands, to retake the lead at 10-7.  White drove the S07 but Shawell threw an INT on the goal line that WS Jason Nugent picked.  Scarlet ran out the clock to end the game and seal a 10-7 Scarlet victory. 


1.  Perspective.  The game was actually played more like a scrimmage.  No kickoffs.  No punt returns.  Running clock.  QBs not "live" (i.e., could not be tackled).  Vanilla defenses.  The game consisted of only 77 offensive plays for both teams – a typical amount for a single team in a real game.  So, the combined stats for both team more closely approximate those of a single team.  Furthermore, Schiano's staff substituted liberally, with deep reserves and walk-ons playing as early as the 2nd Quarter and seeing plenty of action.  So, the stats don't reflect the full work of the first and second teams.

2.  Sloppy, Sloppy.  Perhaps Schiano set the tone for the game with quotes such as, "The game is primarily for the fans."   With the game being televised, Schiano obviously wasn't going to show Michigan State too much.  Brian Leonard got only two touches – one catch and one run.  Ryan Hart played a little over one quarter.  Reserves saw plenty of action.  But that doesn't excuse lackadaisical play.  It was a sloppy game.  Three fumbles.  Two QB trips.  Five sacks.  Four dropped passes.  Two INTs.  Eight bad passes.  Nine penalties.  The vast majority of mental mistakes plagued the offense but the defense wasn't without blame as two penalties sustained Scarlet's only TD drive with two third down conversions.  While the game obviously wasn't a barometer of the team due to the circumstances discussed above, the sloppy play was nonetheless disappointing.  Rutgers needs to use every single practice and snap to improve since the Scarlet Knights spot the Big East rivals they are pursuing an extra month of practice in December.   

3.  Statistics.  As I mentioned above, the total plays from scrimmage closely approximated that of one team in a single game.  So, "the offense" scored only 17 points – disappointing.  The RBs gained 181 yards on 33 carries for a healthy average of over 5 yards per carry.  However, the QBs completed only 13 of 32 passes, which is simply awful for a system that requires at least a 60% completion rate.  The net passing yardage, less sacks, was only 128 yards – awful.  The "The defense" – playing six walk-ons in the two starting lineups – clearly had the better day.  Penalties were the worst aspect of the defensive performance – six for 60yards and 4 first downs. 

4. Line of Scrimmage.  Demonstrating its depth in the absence of three starters, the DLine controlled the line of scrimmage.  DT Nate Robinson set the tone early, beating RG Mike Fladell and dropping Pittman for an 8-yard loss. The offenses especially struggled behind their 2nd team OL, who manned one side of each OLine.  The DLine totaled 20 tackles, 9 TFLs, 4 sacks, and 4 pass deflections.  The DTs were disruptive in the middle and the DEs wrought havoc off the edges.  John Glass versus David Harley was probably the best matchup, featuring the ace of each unit.  Robinson versus Fladell was another intriguing matchup of the next generation.  The center position showed its inexperience with a couple of C/QB trips and with a few missed blocking reads on the pass rush. 

5.  Deep Passing.  The offenses threw deep early and often.  Scarlet opened the game with a flanker reverse pass deep to WR Chris Baker.  Scarlet attempted a flea-flicker on its final possession.  In between, the offenses attempted twelve other deep passes.  Of 32 pass attempts, 14 were thrown deep.  That was a significant departure from last season, when the short passing game was emphasized no matter how much the defense compressed the short and intermediate zones.  However, the accuracy of the deep balls left much to be desired as only one deep pass was completed – for 36 yards to WR Willie Foster on a fly route.  Another drew a pass interference penalty – a post-corner route by Baker.  Two deep balls were dropped – by Loomis and Moses.  Two were overthrown by Shawell.  One was underthrown by Cali.  One was deflected at the LOS by Lukabu.  One was broken up by WS Bryan Durango. One was intercepted by FS Brandon Wood.  The good news is the offense threw deep.  The bad news is that the deep throws were ineffective. 

6.  Cornerbacks.  No other position on the team was decimated with departures as were the CBs.  Nate Jones and Brandon Haw both graduated.  With them went over five years of starting experience.  Despite this experience, the CBs were a weak link last year.  When playing loose man-to-man or zone coverage, the CBs yielded too large a cushion and gave opponents easy 10-yard gains at will.  When pressing in tight man-to-man coverage, the corners were often beaten deep.  Failure to look for the incoming pass was a recurring problem that resulted in too many uncontested catches or pass interference penalties.  The CBs – including two 2nd year players (Joe Porter and Tre Timbers) and a walk-on – were not victimized in the Scarlet-White game.  They generally had good coverage deep, allowing only one deep pass – a 36-yard fly pattern to Foster.  They committed only one pass interference penalty.  The coverage underneath was solid, too, as the CBs yielded only a 6-yard hitch to Moses.  Of the13 completions allowed, the CBs were victimized only twice. 

7.  Backup QBs.  Last season, Cali was unable to displace the incumbent backup, who had proven ineffective during the 2002 season.  Fortunately, Hart remained healthy and Schiano was not forced to rely upon his backup to win a game.  The backup QB job is now open – a contest between an improved Cali and a promising Shawell.  The two combined to play nearly seven quarters in the spring game as Hart saw limited duty.  The performance of Shawell and Cali was troubling.  There is a tremendous dropoff from Hart to Cali/Shawell. 

Shawell played the entire game for White.  He completed only 4 of 13 passes for 69 yards and an INT.  Five of his nine incompletions were poor throws or poor decisions.  He fumbled two snaps and was sacked three times (for minus 25 yards), two of which needlessly occurred outside of the tackles, where he could have thrown the ball away.  He threw a first down INT on the goal line in the final minutes. 

Cali appeared in the 2nd Quarter and was at the helm for a 48-yard TD drive in which he was more of a spectator than leader.  Cali settled down in the 2nd Half, leading two long drives.  For the game, he completed 6 of 10 passes for 91 yards.  His first two passes were poorly thrown but then he found his rhythm.  Anthony showed good mobility and good judgment out of the pocket, using his safety valves and not forcing throws.  While Cali clearly outplayed Shawell, he still needs lots of seasoning. 

8.  Running Outside.  Last season, Offensive Coordinator Craig Ver Steeg kept the offense very basic, allowing the players to gain proficiency in a restricted offense rather than force-feeding them a deeper playbook with broader responsibilities.  Crawl before walking.  Baby steps.  The running game concentrated almost exclusively between the tackles.  Ver Steeg was expected to expand the running game to the outside this year.  Scarlet ran off tackle on the second play from scrimmage but couldn't seal the edge and lost 8 yards.  Thereafter, the offenses tested the outside only four more times, gaining only 14 yards. The Scarlet Knight OL seem to lack the foot speed to effectively seal the corner.  Don't expect to see a lot of outside runs next year other than as a change of pace. 

9.  Safety Valves.  Last season, FB/TB Leonard led Rutgers in receptions.  Leonard was both a primary target and a safety valve, whether played FB or TB.  However, the other RBs, with the exception of hybrid Markis Facyson, were rarely targeted.  TB Hairston, TB Pittman, FB Ishmael Medley, and FB Cedric Brown combined for 4 receptions and 15 receiving yards last season.  Too often, Hart forced a pass downfield and ignored his safety valve.  Defenses were able to ignore one RB (almost anybody not named Leonard) as a significant threat.  Leonard barely played and was thrown to only once in the spring game.  Medley was targeted twice as the primary receiver on drag routes (one catch for 5 yards) and twice more as the safety valve (two catches for 20 yards).  Scarlet threw a screen pass to Pittman, who dropped the pass.  Shawell threw to Hairston twice – once on a crossing route (overthrown) and once while scrambling (broken up and intercepted on the goal line). 

10.  Placekicking.  The offenses entered scoring position six times and converted three times for 17 yards.  One unsuccessful trip ended with a fumbled center exchange at the 22-yard line.  Another trip ended after the coaches eschewed a 47-yard FGA.  The last trip ended with an INT at the goal line.  Sands made a 25-yard  FG.  However, 25-yard FGAs weren't the problem last season.  The problem occurred beyond 30 yards.  On the only opportunity for a long FGA, the coaching staff instead tried to convert on 4th-n-21.  That's hardly a vote of confidence in your placekicker. 


Offensive Player of the Game – White TB Justise Hairston:  Repeated miscues by Shawell (FUM, INT, and bad throws) limited White to a little more than half as many offensive plays as Scarlet.  Despite the reduced opportunities, Hairston was clearly the most dominant offensive player, gaining 91 yards on only 9 carries and scoring a TD.  Hairston accounted for White's only TD and carried the White offense on his broad shoulders.  Honorable mention to Scarlet's Chris Loomis, who caught four passes for 76 yards. 

Defensive Player of the Game – Scarlet WLB Quintero Frierson:  A tough one to award.  In a short game, many played well on two undermanned defenses using too many walk-ons and no single player clearly stood out above the others.  Frierson had a quiet 1st Half but asserted himself in the 2nd half, recording all five of his tackles – including two TFLs – after halftime  Frierson made four tackles on White's final drive, including a first down TFL at the S12.  Honorable mention to White's Piana Lukabu (5 tackles, 2 TFLs, one sack, and one pass deflection) and White's Terry Bynes (6 tackles and one TFL). 

Best Run – White TB Justise Hairston:  Trailing 7-0 late in the 3rd Quarter, Hairston broke a Power G Left up the middle untouched for a 29-yard TD two plays after White stopped Scarlet on 4th-n-1 at the S34.  The left side of the OLine blocked down and sealed off the backside.  FB Cedric Brown stood up the DE and RG John Glass kicked out WLB Kenny Gillespie.  Hairston followed Glass though the hole untouched, faked a walk-on safety off his feet, and raced into the end zone. 

Best Pass – White QB Terrence Shawell to WR Willie Foster:  Shawell had a terrible game – completing only 3 of 12 attempts – but nearly redeemed himself on White's final drive.  Facing 3rd-n-17 at the S48 against a Cover 1 defense (one deep safety), Shawell looked off FS Dondre Asberry to the left and lofted a perfect pass down the right sideline to a streaking Foster, who had beaten CB Tres Timbers in press coverage.  The completion gave White a first down at the S12 and gave White a chance to pull out the win. 

Best Catch – Scarlet TE Chris Loomis:  On the first play of the 4th Quarter, immediately after White had tied the game 7-7, Loomis ran a crossing route on a bootleg right.  He took a short pass from Cali, beat his defender to the sideline, and turned upfield.  WR Chris Baker threw a block to spring Loomis down the sideline and Chris ran roughly 35 yards to finish a 45-yard gain.  The play regained the momentum for Scarlet and set up the game-winning FG. 

Best Hit – White DE Eric Foster:  This was another tough award to make.  Many big defensive plays were the result of DL penetrating the OLine and blowing plays up in the backfield.  Plays that don't show up in the stat sheets.  But one play did stand out.  Late in the 3rd Quarter, Scarlet attempted to convert a 4th-n-1 on its own S34, S.  TB Clarence Pittman ran an iso play to the right.  Foster beat the lead block at the point of attack by FB Ishmael Medley and drilled Pittman in the backfield for a 5-yard loss.  White scored two plays later to tie the game. 

Coming Next:  Spring Review, Part 1.  My eight-part spring preview series evaluated each of the four offensive and three defensive units and summarized the big issues facing the team in spring camp.  Now that I've finished reviewing the Scarlet-White game, I will revisit developments in camp, issues raised in my previews, and present my vision of the two-deep roster.  Since I previewed the offense first, the first part of the spring review will similarly review the offense. 

Please send any comments to dwelch11@comcast.net.  I welcome and appreciate your feedback.  And please put "Rutgers" in the message header because I wouldn't want to miss your email in a sea of spam.  In the meantime, if you would like to discuss the upcoming football season with other Rutgers fans, please visit our message board. 

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