Rutgers torched Norfolk State during the Homecoming game on Sept. 15 by the score of 59-0. The Scarlet Knights erupted for 42 points in the second quarter, and the starters were sitting by early in the third quarter. As Rutgers heads into a bye week, I give you another installment of random observations . . . or "10 things I learned last week."
1. Ray Rice is good
The true junior running back's Heisman Trophy campaign took a big hit when he didn't rush for 100 yards versus Norfolk State. But he averaged 6.0 yards per carry when gaining 72 yards on 12 touches and scored three times in just one half of play. That's one touchdown for every four times he carried the football. He still has 431 yards rushing, a 5.8 yards per run average and a 143.8 yards per game average. If Rice scored 25% of the time he touched the ball all year, he would get somewhere in the range of 65-70 TDs. As it stands, he has eight TDs through three games.
3. Mike Teel is in a groove
Teel, a redshirt junior, is the top-rated passer in the nation through three weeks, compiling a phenomenal 236.07 passer rating. He has tossed eight touchdowns to just one interception and has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes. Against Norfolk State, he was 8-for-15 with 269 yards and three touchdowns in one half of work. Teel is completing the deep route with regularity and is showing composure in the pocket. His 290.3 yards per game make him 27th in college football in that category.
2. WRs Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood have developed real chemistry
Not only are they a dangerous 1-2 punch that combined for 269 yards receiving and three touchdowns against Norfolk State, Britt and Underwood seem to really get the idea of teamwork on behalf of the other player. When one receiver catches a pass and gains extra yards, you can see the other one blocking for him. It's tough to find that kind of selflessness in play, and that bodes well as the season progresses.
3. Rutgers players are among the nation's best
Teel isn't the only player near the top of statistical lists. Despite having to share touched with Britt and playing only one half last Saturday, Underwood is third in the nation in receiving yards with 166.67. Britt is 27th with 93 yards per game. Rice is tied with West Virginia's Steve Slaton for the most total touchdowns in the nation with nine, and his eight rushing TDs tie Slaton. Despite posting just 72 yards last week, Rice is the fifth leading rusher in college football.
As a team, Rutgers is seventh in total defense, fourth in pass efficiency defense and seventh in scoring defense.
4. The Scarlet Knights can strike quickly. Who needs to control the ball for long drives when you can score on one play? Rutgers scored 42 points in the second quarter against Norfolk State, taking just 1:31 of total clock time in seven drives and 12 plays. The longest scoring drive in that quarter was 22 seconds and took just four plays. Two drives required just one play for a touchdown.
5. RU's defense is strong through the early part of the season. I don't care if it's against a Division I-AA opponent; a shutout is a tough accomplishment. Against Norfolk State, Rutgers managed its first shutout of the year. The Scarlet Knights have allowed just three touchdowns and are holding the opposition to just 9 points per game and 215.3 offensive yards per game.
6. Jeremy Ito has outscored three teams in college football
The true senior kicker has scored 30 points this year. Florida International, San Jose State and Notre Dame all have fewer total team points than Ito. He is a perfect 18-for-18 on extra points and is 4-for-6 on field goal attempts. He accounted for 11 points against Norfolk State,
7. The offensive line deserves plenty of credit for the war Rutgers is playing
Rice can't get his yards and touchdowns without a strong offensive line, and Teel can't run up his passing efficiency without time. Through three games, RU has allowed zero sacks while registering seven. The Scarlet Knights are the only team in college football to not allow a sack.
8. It's a good thing Mason Robinson got some work against Norfolk State
It looks like the true freshman running back may get moved up to the two-deep after Rutgers lost second stringer Kordell Young to a season-ending knee injury versus Norfolk State. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said that Robinson was nervous at first but was fine after he learned to relax in his first collegiate action. He carried the ball nine times for 58 yards last Saturday in garbage time. The upside is that Young's injury comes early enough in the season that he should qualify to redshirt this season. That gives the sophomore three more years.
9. Penalties are a problem
Rutgers had 60 total penalties for 487 yards last season. Through three games this year, the Scarlet Knights have been flagged 29 times for 269 yards. Schiano addressed this problem in his post-game press conference last week. The Knights need to avoid penalties once they begin to play tougher competition.
10. The game was over when . . .
Rutgers stomped Norfolk State to the tune of 42 points in the second quarter. It's hard to pinpoint an exact time, as the offense completely overwhelmed Norfolk State's defense. It took just 1:31 of possession time to score seven touchdowns in that second quarter!