Rutgers football: What can be learned from loss to Indiana

Indiana, currently ranked No. 13 in the country, beat Rutgers 37-21 on Saturday afternoon in a game that was hard to watch for Rutgers football fans. The Scarlet Knights started the game strong but failed to uphold the momentum that is necessary to beat a ranked Indiana team. While the loss was disappointing for Rutgers, which upset Michigan State just a week ago, there is much to be learned from the game. The rest of its season does not have to be loss after loss in the competitive Big Ten conference. With some tweaks and cleaning up, the Scarlet Knights still have the potential to upset more teams. Let’s see what Rutgers can learn from this weekend’s game and how to improve upon it.

Offensive trouble

Rutgers scored early, putting the first touchdown of the game on the board in the first quarter. However, this momentum faded as it was unable to score again until the third quarter, when Indiana had already scored 23 points. Rutgers can’t expect to be able to compete against teams like Indiana if it flattens out after the first few minutes.

One positive about Rutgers’ offense in this game was a newfound aggression, specifically choosing to go for a two-point conversion. Typically Rutgers plays more conservatively than that, not wanting to take a risk, but head coach Greg Schiano seems to want to change that. What’s even better is it made the two-point conversion, which then had to be replayed due to a penalty, and then they made it again.

The (lack of) ability to get yards

The Scarlet Knights just could not get the ball down the field. They had just 125 passing yards and 122 rushing yards. Moments where Rutgers had gained negative yards in a quarter were frustrating and a testament to the Indiana defense. The Rutgers offensive line needs to figure out how to penetrate the defense and help quarterback Noah Vedral move the ball down the field. If Rutgers can’t get on the board more consistently, this will be a tough year.

Honorable mention takeaway: crazy touchdown that was called back

This would not be a game recap if this play was not mentioned and appreciated. If you didn’t catch Saturday’s game, it’s at least worth watching the crazy, weird, all over the place lateral pass touchdown, that ended up not being a touchdown. Down 16 with two minutes left in the game, Rutgers threw eight lateral passes and made it to the endzone in 33 seconds. However, a replay review revealed that wide receiver Shameen Jones threw a forward lateral at the 35-yard line, which voided the touchdown. Disappointing moment, but an impressive show of Rutgers’ ability to continue to fight until the end of the game.

Rutgers football lost but showed it can compete against a top 20 team, which is something that could not be said about the team last year. If it can continue to put up a fight against these stronger teams, another upset is bound to happen soon. It just might be against Ohio State next week.

Photo by Kelly Carmack/The Daily Targum