Rutgers football: Change is needed vs. Michigan

Something needs to change. After an overall weak performance by Rutgers football this season, a lot needs to be switched around. The Scarlet Knights play Michigan on Saturday, and their play needs to be cleaned up quite a bit if they want to compete.

The question is what exactly needs to be done? There are issues on both the offensive and defensive sides, and some starters might not see playing time this Saturday. Let’s look at all the options there are to turn Rutgers’ season around.

Who should start at quarterback

Nebraska transfer Noah Vedral has started all four games this season with a little bit of action seen from Adam Sitkowski and Johnny Langan. While Vedral has had some strong games, he might not be the answer for the rest of the season.

Vedral has completed 82 of an attempted 130 passes in his four games. He averages 180.8 passing yards per game and can run the ball a bit, averaging 19 rushing yards a game. This is his first time as a starting quarterback for a school, and this is his third year of eligibility.

While Vedral has been creative in the position, he has not proved to have a very strong arm. That, combined with the three interceptions he threw on Saturday, does not make him an ideal option for quarterback.

There has been talk about bringing back 2018 starter Artur Sitkowski. He started that season as a freshman, then redshirted for the 2019 season. Sitkowski is a strong guy with a good arm and has the experience playing for Rutgers. In 2018, he completed 134 of 273 passes and averaged 105 passing yards per game. Now two years older, Sitkowski can only be stronger and more accurate. He came in at the end of the Ohio State game this season to get some reps in, and that’s the only time he’s been given this year. He completed 9 of 13 passes and threw for 62 yards. We might be seeing more of Sitkowski this season, so he is someone to keep an eye on for Rutgers football.

Change up the defense

Rutgers defense let Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams run all over the place on Saturday, racking up almost 200 rushing yards. Rutgers will be facing other young and talented quarterbacks this season, including Michigan’s Joe Milton. Rutgers’ defense needs to be putting pressure on these quarterbacks instead of letting them run the game. The Scarlet Knights also need to get a pass rush and stop the ball from moving down the field early. Overall the defense is going to need to be tighter and much more aggressive going forward. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith needs to get on that.

Can Rutgers turn it around?

If Rutgers can actually start to learn from its games, as I’m sure head coach Greg Schiano is trying to get it to, the Scarlet Knights can finish out the rest of the season strongly. It’s just about changing things up and being willing to try new things. With all the trick plays we’ve been seeing, I would be surprised if Schiano didn’t take a chance and switch some things around as we approach the halfway point of the season. Hopefully, we can see a higher level of Rutgers football play soon.

Photo by Kelly Carmack | The Daily Targum

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