Know Your Opponent: A Transitioning Rutgers Squad Is Between Indiana and Win Five

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

Head Coach: Chris Ash (1st Year at Rutgers)
Overall: 2-6 (.250) 1st year
At Rutgers 2-6 (0-5)
Bowl Appearances: 0
Last Year’s Record: 3-9 (1-7) 
This Year’s Record: 4-8 (1-7)
Postseason Appearances Since 2000: 9 Appearances (6-3 Record)
Mascot: Scarlet Knight
Colors: Scarlet
Outfitter: Nike
National Titles: 1
Conference Titles: 1
Heisman Winners: 0


Fun Fact

Why are the Scarlet Knights the Scarlet Knights? Here’s what has to say:

Since its days when the school was officially known as Queen's College, the athletic teams were referred to as the Queensmen. Officially serving as the mascot figure for several football seasons beginning in 1925 was a giant, colorfully felt-covered, costumed representation of an earlier campus symbol, the "Chanticleer." Though a fighting bird of the kind which other colleges have found success, to some it bore the connotation of "chicken." It is also a little-known fact that the New Brunswick-based broadcast station, WCTC, which serves as the flagship station of Rutgers athletics, had its call letters derived from the word "ChanTiCleer." Chanticleer remained as the nickname for some 30 years.

In the early 1950's, in the hope of spurring both the all-around good athletic promise and RU fighting spirit, a campus-wide selection process changed the mascot to that of a Knight.
By 1955, the Scarlet Knight had become the new Rutgers mascot. The Scarlet-garbed knight, riding a spirited white charger, came to represent a new era - the rejuvenation of first class football "On the Banks."

1. These Knights Get Off to Slow Starts

When a team is 2-6 there are many issues, but Rutgers has been especially bad in the first quarter and slightly less awful in the second quarter. In eight games this season Rutgers has been outscored 100-17 in the first quarter. Yes, 100-17, that includes 24-0 at Washington, 14-7 vs. Howard, 21-7 vs. New Mexico, 6-0 at Ohio State, 14-0 vs. Michigan, and 21-3 at Minnesota. Rutgers is slightly better in the second quarter only getting outscored 77-38. The Hoosiers will have every opportunity to open a lead and add to it early.

2. New Quarterback, A Little More Success On Offense

Junior Chris Laviano had started the first seven games for the Scarlet Knights amassing 748 yards and five touchdowns. However, head coach Chris Ash had enough of the guy with a 48.3 completion percentage in 2016 and benched him in the game against Illinois and started Giovanni Rescigno against Minnesota.

Rescigno sparked the Rutgers’ offense as best he could completing 10 of his 18 passes for 120 yards and the team’s only touchdown in the 24-7 loss. In his first start the redshirt sophomore nearly led the Knights back from a 21-3 deficit on the road against Minnesota. He completed 20 of his 38 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball 11 times for a net of 37 yards. However, Rescigno was sacked four times that resulted in a loss of 30 yards.

The bottom line is that Rescigno has injected some life into the Rutgers offense and is most likely the future at the position for the next couple years. So IU must be wary about his arm and legs. 

3. Wide Receivers Andre Patton and Jawaun Harris Must Be Held In Check

Rutgers lost their most explosive receiver Janarion Grant to a leg injury in the game against Iowa. Grant was having a tremendous year 655 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in less than four games. Finding a replacement for that kind of production is next to impossible, but Rutgers has two receivers who could cause issues for Indiana.

Patton, a six-foot-three senior is the team’s receiving yards leader with 17 catches for 271 yards and four touchdowns. He has the ability to body up on corners and use his size to his advantage. On the other side will be the youngster Juwaun Harris who is a small receiver at five-foot-nine, but is the Knights version on Mitchell Paige. Harris has made 21 catches for 255 yards and three scores including a long reception of 76 yards, so his speed can cause issues for the IU secondary if he gets going in space. 

4. Rutgers Will Put The Ball On The Ground

Usually bad teams are bad for a reason and one of the reasons Rutgers is sitting at 2-6 is because they put the ball on the ground. The Knights have fumbled the football 15 times, losing 10 of them. The 10 lost fumbles are the third most in FBS (two teams have 11, four have 12). 

Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen should be licking his chops at the opportunity to get more takeaways. Look for Marcus Oliver and the rest of the defense to try and knock the ball out of the hands of Rutgers players.

5. Blessaun Austin and Anthony Cioffi Will Try and Stop IU’s Pass Offense

Rutgers defense has some individual talent and at anytime those players can make a play, but they have two corners who are pretty good against the pass. Senior Anthony Cioffi is the team’s third leading tackler with 45 stops (25 solo), two interceptions, and three pass breakups. On the other side, Rutgers has sophomore Blessaun Austin who has put together a solid season as well. Austin is seventh on the team in tackles with 32 (24 solo). He also intercepted a pass and knocked away 10.

Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow will have to build on the solid performance against Maryland and the IU receivers will have to continue to make competitive plays. Establishing a running attack is vital as it took pressure off the passing game last week and will make Indiana’s offense that much more difficult to stop.