"There's no solace in coming close"

It was a sloppy day, which contributed to Rutgers playing its sloppiest game so far this season. According to the National Weather Service Rutgers received approximately 4 inches of rain – which amounts to one inch for every Rutgers turnover.

After battling WVU to a draw for ten minutes Rutgers made a series of mistakes which would ultimately cost them the game. Sr. Specialist Joe Radigan had a punt blocked deep in Rutgers territory when a West Virginia player reached him untouched. West Virginia recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. On the very next drive freshman running back Ray Rice fumbled a pitch, which was recovered by West Virginia at the Rutgers 28 yard line. Rutgers defense, which had been adequate to that point, could not contain West Virginia's overpowering rushing offense, and gave up a touchdown after a six play drive.

Rutgers would see its first decent offensive drive end in an interception, which gave the Mountaineers the ball at the 7 yard line. West Virginia then marched 93 yards down the field to score another touchdown. At this point you could say that the Rutgers futility ended and its QB controversy began. Redshirt freshman Mike Teel proceeded to lead the Scarlet Knights on a 14 play, 80 yard drive that ate up 6:50 off the clock and resulted in a Brian Leonard touchdown for the first Rutgers score of the game. At the half the Rutgers Offense under Ryan Hart had compiled 29 yards, 0 TD – the Rutgers Offense under Mike Teel had managed considerably better: 110 yards and 1 TD.

Of course there isn't much of a controversy if one player completely dominates, so to make it a competition Ryan Hart proceeded to march the Knights 66 yards down the field on their first possession of the second half to record Rutgers' second touchdown of the game. At the end of the game the Knights had accumulated 144 yards under veteran Ryan Hart, and 151 yards under newcomer Mike Teel, with each having one long touchdown drive. But, on perhaps the most important drive of the game Mike Teel was given the go ahead, before throwing an interception which all but ended the hope of a Rutgers comeback.

So is there a controversy? Coach Greg Schiano doesn't think so.

"We feel that they both bring different talents to the table. If one had them all and was clearly lights out over the other one then we would play that one alone", Coach Schiano said.

The quarterbacks don't seem to think so either - at least not publicly.

When asked about the possibility of his offensive rhythm disrupted by the constant changing of quarterbacks Hart responded, "I don't really think about that. I just do my job and go out there and do what the coaches tell me to." He also said that he is appraised before the game of the specific plan for getting Teel into the game, stating that, "We have a situation going in where Mike is supposed to get a couple series in a half."

When a normally efficient quarterback doesn't get the job done part of the blame can usually be put on the opposing defense, and that was definitely the case this time around, going against West Virginia's top ten defense.

Both Hart and fullback Brian Leonard thought that their defensive scheme and talent cut down on first downs, stopping potential drives in their tracks.

Hart said that "Their third down defense was good" and Leonard added "When you play a defense like this you need to get a third and intermediate or third and short to really get the chains moving. We had a lot of third and longs, and again the credit goes to West Virginia."

Leonard concluded by saying that "They are the best defense we have faced."

Overall the Knights needed to play a near perfect game to beat a more talented West Virginia squad, particularly with the weather limiting the prolific Rutgers passing game.

"We knew exactly what we needed to do to win this game and we didn't do it," stated Coach Schiano. He later added, "We played pretty good football when we weren't screwing it up."

Take away the two early touchdowns that West Virginia earned off of Rutgers' mistakes and the Knights win 14-13.

But it seems we may be entering a new era of Rutgers football where moral victories against good teams are no longer enough. As Coach Schiano bluntly put it, "There's no solace in coming close."

Scarlet Report Top Stories