10 Things We Learned: Rutgers - MSU

Rutgers (1-3) got in the win column Sept. 27 with a 38-0 shutout of Morgan State (2-2) at Rutgers Stadium. The Scarlet Knights will take the victory, and they learned lessons on how to shut down an opponent. We gleaned some information from the game as well, as we'll explore in 10 Things We Learned Last Week.

1. Jourdan Brooks is RU's No. 1 running back for the foreseeable future. The redshirt freshman was held to 65 yards rushing on 18 carries (3.6 yards per rush average), but he scored three touchdowns and was virtually unstoppable in short-yardage situations. Brooks' three TD runs were from 1 yard, 5 yards and 3 yards as he cemented his spot as the go-to guy for tough yardage. Six of Rutgers' nine plays on an opening 66-yard drive were runs to Brooks.

2. Mike Teel still hasn't put it all together. RU's fifth-year signal caller and offensive co-captain was a tepid 11-for-18 for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception through two-and-a-half quarters. His 25-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown late in the second quarter was on target, but his interception early in the third was wildly off. It didn't help that standout receiver Kenny Britt was suspended for this game, and that several players dropped passes. But the bottom line is Teel has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. But you have to give him credit for point No. 3.

3. Teel can scramble. No one will accuse Teel of being a quarterback who can make a lot happen with his legs, but he showed vision and good decision making when, on a third down and 20, Teel dropped back into his own end zone and ran out of trouble to the Rutgers 24-yard line, giving Rutgers a first down and keeping the drive alive.

4. Chris Paul-Etienne needs more snaps to get ready for prime time. Forced into the backup role now that Jabu Lovelace is out with a broken leg, Paul-Etienne was erratic through a quarter and a half of play. He completed one of three attempts and threw an interception. The redshirt freshman needs more time to work on his game.

5. RU's linebackers are coming together. Damaso Munoz grabbed his first career interception and led all Rutgers tacklers with eight against Morgan State. Ryan D'Imperio seemed to be in the faces of MSU quarterbacks all day, and Kevin Malast was second on the team with five tackles versus MSU. The trio forms what is probably Rutgers' most consistent defensive unit this season.

6. Special teams are improving. Through four games last season, Rutgers' punt returners had already fumbled the ball away three times to opponents. This year the Scarlet Knights have managed to hold on to the ball. Additionally, the Knights blocked a punt for the second consecutive game, and they have been able to bring pressure on the opposing teams' punters. That will be key to beating West Virginia this week.

7. SNY has no clue how to broadcast a college football game. Late in the first quarter, the station cut away from the Rutgers-Morgan State game to show postgame interviews and analysis from a Mets game. Local Scarlet Knights fans were left to wonder what was going on as RU scored four times while the network was showing something else. The network offered a weak apology for an incompetent broadcasting decision. Those out of the broadcast area who watched the game on ESPN GamePlan did not witness a broadcasting interruption.

8. The secondary is making adjustments. Morgan State's longest play of the day was its first, a 27-yard pass on a flea flicker. The secondary shut down MSU most of the day, and senior safety Courtney Greene climbed the ladder to grab an interception. After the game, players and coaches said the defensive backs did a better job of communicating than in past games, and the secondary was in position to make plays against MSU.

9. Morgan State's cheerleaders can dance. Half the show on Saturday was the MSU band and its cheerleaders, who really know how to move. The band and cheerleaders kept going the entire game, even while their team was losing 38-0.

10. Ted Dellaganna can blast the ball. The redshirt freshman punter is still a bit inconsistent, especially on kickoffs, but he showed why Rutgers recruited him when he let loose on a booming 52-yard punt in the third quarter. There's no doubt that Dellaganna can really get into the ball on punts (42.8 yard average against MSU), but he also showed great touch when he placed two kicks inside Morgan State's 20-yard line.

The game was over when . . . Brooks rumbled into the end zone on a 5-yard run to put Rutgers ahead 21-0 with 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter. After that, the only question was whether Rutgers would shut out its overmatched opponent.

Post mortem. Regardless of the fact that this win was over a weaker team, it was still necessary to get Rutgers on the right track. The Scarlet Knights looked dominant as they rolled to a 38-0 halftime advantage, and it's tough to shut anyone out on the college level.

Still, the Scarlet Knights continue to look unfocused at times, something that will be deadly if they don't correct it in Big East play. The defense is playing better, but the offense is lacking any kind of identity. It will be interesting to see how this win carries over to the West Virginia and Cincinnati games, two road tilts to open RU's conference slate.

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