It was ugly, and the final score looks closer than the actual game. But it's better to win ugly than look good while losing. The Scarlet Knights travel next week to Maryland (1-2), a team that has looked awful at times this year. Let's hope they can put together a more complete effort at Byrd Stadium next week than they showed last week.
2. RU's defense stepped up.
When RU linebacker Ryan D'Imperio intercepted a Paul McCall pass and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown, the stadium started emptying as RU was up 23-0 with 8:16 remaining in the game. However, RU's defense lost focus and allowed FIU to get a sliver of hope with two TD drives late in the fourth quarter. FIU mustered just 115 total yards before its two scoring drives and finished the game with 260 yards for the game. Through the first three quarters, RU's smothering defense held FIU to 99 total yards. The defense gave FIU's offense no hope for the majority of the game and looked like it finally clicked.
3. Leaders have to set an example.
D'Imperio is one of RU's co-captains, and he showed his leadership skills against FIU. The senior recorded eight tackles to increase his team-leading total to 20 on the season, and he scored what turned out to be the game-winning TD on his 38-yard interception return.
4. RU's offensive line still needs work.
Starting QB Tom Savage was sacked four times, and the FIU defense was in his face the entire game. The offensive line also had several holding and false start penalties against it, a sign of an undisciplined group. On the flip side, RU's offensive line opened enough holes to allow RB Joe Martinek to rush for a career-high 126 yards on 23 carries.
5. Tim Brown is electric.
To no one's surprise, the true senior from Miami was the fastest player on the field. He finished the game with four catches for 131 yards - including a 49-yard hookup with Domenic Natale - and leads the team with 351 yards receiving and an average of 25.1 yards per catch.
6. Who needs one go-to running back when you have two?
Martinek averaged 5.3 yards per carry against FIU and was the second straight RU running back to run for at least 100 yards in a game. Jourdan Brooks, who ran for 133 yards against Howard in Week 2, only had five carries for 10 yards in the FIU game.
7. FIU can't run the ball.
The Golden Panthers managed a measly 43 yards rushing against Rutgers to raise their total to 44 on the season. Until FIU put together two late scoring drives, they had run for 20 yards. It's going to be a long season for QB Paul McCall if his team can't learn to move on the ground.
8. DE Jonathan Freeny is starting to blossom.
You can see the light bulb going off in the true junior's head this season. He notched two sacks against FIU and leads RU with four on the season. Freeny was around McCall all day and helped RU's defense keep FIU's passing attack in check. He has 11 tackles, including five tackles for loss, this season.
9. Tom Savage sometimes plays like a freshman.
The redshirt freshman went from the quarterback of the future to the face of the offense quickly. He's 2-0 as a starter, but Savage still looked like a freshman at times against FIU - even before he had his bell rung in the fourth quarter. He was a mediocre 11-for-28 for 185 yards with no TDs versus the Golden Panthers. Savage looked out of sync with his receivers most of the game. However, he still has an all-important goose egg in the interception column.
10. The game was over when . . .
Rutgers recovered an FIU onsides kick with 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The game went from a rout to a one-TD spread quickly, but the Scarlet Knights fell on the ball and took a knee to end the contest.