Analysis: Great game plan at Louisville

From the varied offensive sets and the distribution of the ball, to the way the defense brought pressure, Rutgers had a wonderful game plan heading into the 34-14 win at Louisville. Quarterback Tom Savage was put in a position to succeed, and he did, and Mohamed Sanu became a bonafided play-maker. But what is wrong with the special teams? Check out the analysis of Rutgers' big road win.

Inside of Rutgers' domination of Louisville was a clever and varied offensive game plan and an attacking defense, but the undercurrent of a few special teams blunders were overlooked because the win came so easy.

But the primary reason the Scarlet Knights' 34-14 defeat of Louisville came without incident was Rutgers' offensive approached.

With quarterback Tom Savage coming off the worst performance of his career, rather than play conservatively, the Scarlet Knights were aggressive. It also helped the Cardinals defensive was passive, and at times, lost on what to do.

It began on Rutgers' first offensive play, when the Cardinals decided to leave leading receiver Tim Brown in single coverage. All Savage needed was time to find a ridiculously wide open Brown for 23 yards.

Not only was Louisville's front seven uninspired, but the safeties played too deep in the first 25 minutes, and Rutgers was smart enough to take advantage of it. That was a key to Savage threading a 19-yard pass into Brown on third-and-8 on the first drive.

But the diversity in Rutgers offensive approach in the first half should be applauded because it was unpredictable, fast-paced and succinctly executed.

The traditional two-back sets were complemented by Rutgers running the option with Savage twice, Sanu operating out of the Wildcat and keeping the ball based on pre-snap reads of the positions of several key Cardinals, like the safety and linebacker, a quick pass/lateral to Sanu to get him to the edge and even a pass to fullback Jack Corcoran.

Rutgers' offensive line was also much quicker, and no matter who was pulling, from left tackle Anthony Davis to right tackle Kevin Haslam, there were plenty of times they were looking for someone to block on the second level.

Also, the emergence of Sanu as a bonafide big play threat arrived in this game. His size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) combined with his strength, ability to find running lanes and understanding of how to run the Wildcat makes him a must-stop player for opposing defenses, and a player defensive backs do not want to tackle.

And as someone who can throw the ball more than 60 yards (folks swear they witnessed him throw it 70 yards in high school) and is a former high school quarterback, the threat to throw the ball exists.

In fact, twice Brown was open on passes from the Wildcat, and although the throws weren't the best, both should have been caught.

Sanu also could have had a touchdown in the third quarter after a wonderful stop-and-go route, but Savage overthrew the play.

Certainly, there could be complaints about being too conservative in the second half, but those thoughts are too simplistic.

First, Rutgers was protecting a big lead with the defense playing well, so pulling back a bit is understandable, especially when the two best offensive players are true freshman.

But the offense didn't help itself. As mentioned, Brown missed a pass from Sanu and Savage couldn't connect with Sanu, who was a few yards behind the defense, down the left sideline.

Also, receiver Keith Stroud dropped a pass that nearly turned into an interception, and a holding penalty stopped a drive.

Defensively, Rutgers proved it must blitz in order to pressure the quarterback.

The Scarlet Knights are very good at shifts before the snap of the ball, and with varying where the blitzes are coming from.

Whether was is free safety Zaire Kitchen creeping up to the line, like he did in deflecting quarterback Adam Froman's third-down pass on Louisville's first possession to force a punt, or strong safety Joe Lefeged teaming with a linebacker to bring pressure, the Scarlet Knights got to the quarterback, and plenty more times than the two sacks suggest.

Dropping defensive end George Johnson into coverage was also a nice change of pace to augment the blitz package.

Rutgers' blitzes hurried Froman regularly, but it was much different when the Scarlet Knights rushed four, or in some cases, only three. They had trouble getting to Froman, who often had a comfortable pocket from which to throw.

But while the defensive line didn't get a lot of pressure in the passing game, Rutgers' front four routinely beat Louisville's offensive line off the snap to shut down the running game. The Cardinals had 48 yards on 27 carries.

It was also easy to see why Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is so excited about freshman linebacker Steve Beauharnais. He played fast in the running game, and possesses tremendous closing speed when approaching a ball carrier.

However, as effective as he was near the line of scrimmage, he had trouble in space. He lost Cameron Graham on a crossing pattern that set up Louisville's second-quarter touchdown.

And on the touchdown, a 6-yard catch by Trent Guy, cornerback Devin McCourty played to protect the outside, but Beauharnais didn't get over quick enough to get in the passing lane to defend the slant, and it made for an easy score.

Beauharnais also committed pass interference in the second quarter.

Suddenly, an area of concern is special teams, and not because Sanu muffed a punt.

For the second time in three games holder Teddy Dellaganna dropped a snap. This one resulted in a missed extra point in the closing minutes, but two times is too many and could make for some nervous moments if Saturday's West Virginia game is close.

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