I am not one for names so from here on in, I will be using generic terms such as QB, the Line, you get my drift … now down to business.
The First Half
I am not one for words so I will keep this short and sweet.
The Knights looked good, and I mean good. Illinois did not know what to do. Offense was moving the ball well. The QB made smart decisions, the O-line gave him time and the specialists, one word: outstanding.
The only gripe that I have about the offense is their inability to finish a drive. Getting to the red zone three times without a touchdown is the difference between good and great teams. This performance continued the entire first half.
Offense: 3 out of 5 thumbs up
The defense came onto the field like men on a mission. They just straight kicked the … to be sure, Illinois was finding out "What a Rutgers" is. They were playing like a pack of "Rock Killers".
Defense: 4 out 5 thumbs up
On to Special teams. HHHmmmmm … SUCKED!!!! Ok, that is not fair.
Let's see, Kick-offs: Good
Kick-off return: Good
Punt return: Good
Field goal: TTTTHHHHHH!
How on earth do you miss two out of three field goal attempts inside of 40 yards? These were critical points lost early in the game, that as I watched I thought to myself, "That is going to come back and bite us in the you know what." Nothing burns my butt more than a kicker who isn't kicking worth a darn.
Come on man that is all you do. Myself, I barely qualify kickers as football players. Most of them are displaced soccer players who road the bench. (The opinion you have just read is that of the author's and the author's only).
Some of you may say that I am being a little hard on the kicker. Hmmm, no, I don't think so. To put it bluntly, if any of you have ever seen what a kicker does in practice during the week, or better yet, in training camp, YOU UNDERSTAND where I am coming from.
The Second Half
The second half of the game was hard to watch. Mostly because it reminded me of when I played at Rutgers. Although I did not keep track of the substitutions, it seems that the Knights just simply ran out of gas. They fought valiantly, but were not able to fend off the new life which sprung into Illinois. You started to notice a fade in performance near the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter, their motor seized up. There was no consistent pressure on the QB, the RB was running at will and grand standing for the home town (he is from NJ). The O-line started missing blocks, the QB was not getting the time he had in the first half, receivers started dropping passes, and on it went. There were simply a lot of mental mistakes. The type of mistakes that occur when you are tired and have nothing left to give. The kicking game, well we won't even talk about that anymore.
Rutgers seems to be lacking in depth on defense. This results in the starters playing until exhaustion. The mighty branch which only bent before now starts to break. This is what I see as being the one of two things holding Rutgers football back.
It did when I played and it is now.
The second fault I had with the performance was the ability to finish a drive. Three times in the red zone with only three points to show is unacceptable. There needs to be more of a sense of urgency once one enters inside the 20-yard line.
In the great words of Coach Arnold (Jelly Roll) Jeter,
"You have to want to kill a mosquito with an axe."
"You have to care enough about winning, to carry out the details of your assignment."
With that I wish The Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Team all the best this season. I will be watching on the High Definition big screen with a bowl of buttery popcorn and a Mountain Dew, thinking:
"Maann, If that were me I would have made that play."
Enjoy the experience guys.
- Keif Bryant
Rutgers Football ‘91-‘94
# 91 DT/DE