Game Analysis: Rutgers vs. Norfolk State

The general feeling coming out of Rutgers' 31-0 season-opening win against Norfolk State was the offensive line was not good. However, that is not accurate. Each week will review the tape of the Rutgers game and provide a reader-friendly, point-by-point analysis of what transpired. Forget going beyond the box score, this features aims to give you a different perspective.

Watching the game live is one thing, and presents a real-time look at what is happening on the field.

However, pop on the game tape and you may see something different, or further validation of what your eye thought it saw while watching live.

After every Rutgers game, will take to the game tape for a slowed-down, rewindable version of what took place on the field.

We did that after Thursday's 31-0 win against Norfolk State, and came away with more insight and explanation as to what went right, and why so, and what didn't go so well.

And, like much of's coverage before, during and after games, the analysis has been reformatted to make it easier and breezier to read, but still packed with plenty of water-cooler nuggets.

What To Like

  • The way running back Joe Martinek ran. Not only was it north-south, but after watching the tape, he ran with the toughness coach Greg Schiano spoke about in then spring.
    When Martinek scored in the third quarter, the blocking wasn't great. But he made one defender miss, and dragged another four yards into the end zone.

  • The speed of running back Jordan Thomas. He can get to the edge, which means spreading out a defense.
    Jordan Thomas
    In the Wildcat package, he takes the roll Tim Brown had pre-ankle injury in 2009, of being the speed guy who can take the handoff from Mohamed Sanu and get the corner.
    It means teams cannot pack the middle and focus on Sanu.

  • The pass protection. Yes, that is right. The pass protection. The offensive line did a fine job protecting quarterback Tom Savage. He got hit twice because of the offensive line's inability to block, but the other hits he absorbed came after he couldn't find a receiver and either ran or held the ball too long.

  • The aggressive and physical play of guards Betim Bujari and Antwan Lowery when the second-team offense got a crack late in the fourth quarter.

  • The play of the defensive line. It was ridiculous how often the defensive line blew up a play. Alex Silvestro was getting off the line quickly and his combination of speed and strength overmatched the Spartans.
    A nice part of the game plan was having Silvestro and Jonathan Freeny switch sides on occasions to give a different look.

    Joe Lefeged
  • The ability of cornerback Brandon Bing to block a punt coming from either side. He deflected one coming from the right side, and got the full block from the left side, and in doing so he kept his pads low and dipped his shoulder to get around the would-be blocker.

  • Strong safety Joe Lefeged exploding to the ball carrier and making sure tackles. His reaction time was fantastic and his tackling sure.

    What To Work On

  • Run blocking, and that means understanding and executing assignments. Strength wasn't the issue, but linemen getting to the second level of blockers and making the play was a problem.
    Howard Barbieri
    If you want to know what coach Greg Schiano was talking about when he said Friday morning "We had run-through linebackers that we didn't pick up," look up two plays.
    On a third-and-2 in the first quarter (about 2 minutes left), right tackle Art Forst and center Howard Barbieri wound up blocking the same player to give linebacker Corwin Hammond a clear path to Martinek.
    On Rutgers' second play of the second quarter, Thomas was tackled after Barbieri couldn't get to Hammond, and a potentially big play was stopped for three yards.

  • Mohamed Sanu's pass-catching. He is a stud receiver, but he dropped passes. Granted, each one was not perfect, but he is better than that and it cost Rutgers on three occasions. It is not 6-0 at the half if he holds on to one of them.

  • Kicker San San Te's long-distance kicking. Te is hitting the ball solid despite missing from long range because the balls are going straight and have plenty of distance.
    The problem is Te missed from 40 and 47 yards, and when the ball is being struck that cleanly with regularity but the ball isn't going through the uprights, it means something is wrong on the approach.
    It's like your backswing screwing up your golf shot.

    Not To Worry

  • Sanu ran the ball four times (19 yards) from the Wildcat. It was done enough to give the offense live reps against other competition, but the idea isn't to wear Sanu out early in the season when he isn't needed as much.
    However, one interesting aspect was how often Sanu gave the ball to Thomas in an attempt to get to the corner.
    Keeping Perspective

  • Running back DeAntwan Williams rushed for 69 yards on six carries in mop-up duty, but don't lose sight of exactly was transpired. It came against a beaten and battered Norfolk State defense, which had plenty of second-team players.
    DeAntwan Williams
    And in going back and watching the tape of the game, Williams got through the hole quickly on a 31-yard run, but there were no extraordinary eye-popping plays that suggested Martinek or Thomas wouldn't have had equal or more success had they been playing at that time.
    Like it has been mentioned time and again, it can get dicey judging a player off six carries in an already-decided game when the coaching staff evaluates him on a daily basis in practice.

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