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Rutgers Football Through 4 Weeks

Non-Conference Recap

The first three weeks of the third year of Greg Schiano’s return to Rutgers started off as well as anyone could have anticipated. The out-of-conference schedule saw the Scarlet Knights add wins against a power five opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), a former rival with membership in the group of five American Athletic Conference (AAC), and a downtrodden Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team. While the three wins were integral to the overall record, they were not without their flaws.

Week 1: @ Boston College

The first week of the season saw the Knights visit the BC Eagles and execute the signature Schiano game plan almost flawlessly. The strong defensive showing paired with an onslaught of run plays wore down both the offensive and defensive lines of BC. Eagles starting quarterback (QB) and NFL draft prospect Phil Jurkovec was continually hurried, hit, sacked, and overall harassed in the pocket by tenacious Rutgers’ edge rushers Wesley Bailey and Aaron Lewis. The pass rush left the starting QB in Jurkovec rattled and the BC run game was anemic, essentially the hallmarks of a successful Greg Schiano defense. Ultimately, this led to a narrow victory for Rutgers on the road with a final score of 22-21. This victory over a BC team that started the season ranked near 50th in the country in press polls was a surprise, as Rutgers was frequently ranked past 100th nationally and were projected as underdogs. The victory, while exciting, also left some lingering questions, particularly around the quarterback position. Gavin Wimsatt and Evan Simon alternated running the offense almost every drive with neither having a clear edge.

Week 2: Vs Wagner

Week 2 was the game every Rutgers fan immediately checked off as a win when the 2022 football schedule was released. Wagner, an FCS program that has only one win since 2019, traveled to face the Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. The game was never truly in question with the final score being 66-7 in favor of the Knights. While this was the dominant win it was supposed to be, there was still no clear cut starting QB with yet another Wimsatt-Simon timeshare under center. This was again an instance of the running game powering the Rutgers offense.

Week 3: @ Temple

The third and final non-conference game had Schiano’s squad travel to Philadelphia to face off against former Big East/AAC rival Temple Owls. The Owls came into the match up with a 1-1 record through two weeks, after being shut out by Duke week one in a 30-0 loss and a rally against Lafayette led by true freshman backup Quarterback E.J. Warner,son of Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, resulted in a 30-14 win in week two. The first two weeks indicated that there was a good chance that this game could be a repeat of the 61-14 drubbing Temple received at SHI Stadium in 2021. However, Warner showed flashes of his father’s expert decision making with only a handful of truly questionable passes, thanks in part due to the fact he was nowhere near as pressured as previous opposing QBs had been by the Knights defense. The Temple offensive line remained stout through much of the game in pass protection, but the running game did not bear fruit against the stingy Rutgers front seven. Warner, while impressive for a true freshman, was credited with an interception in the second quarter when Rutgers defensive back Shaquan Loyal tipped the ball in the backfield to himself and took it 43 yards for a pick six. This was the only Rutgers touchdown of the game, which brings us to the concerning play of the Knights’ offense. The QB duo of Simon and Wimsatt was in effect until Wimsatt checked out of the game relatively early with an undisclosed injury. Prior to the injury, Wimsatt logged one completion on two attempts for 7 yards and two rushes for 4 yards. Simon’s day was not much more productive, as he finished the game with 57 yards passing after going 9/15 on pass attempts. Additionally, Simon logged 5 carries for 4 yards. The stable of rushers deployed by the Scarlet Knights was headlined by senior tight end (TE) Johnny Langan who finished the game with 9 carries for 79 yards and one catch for 3 yards. The running game was how the Knights controlled the pace of the game and got within the range of kicker Jude McAtameny, who supplied 10 points for the Knights going 3/4 on field goal attempts and 1/1 on his lone extra point try. This defense centric game saw the Knights triumph over the Owls 16-14.

Big Ten Opener

Week 4: Vs Iowa

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Rutgers matched up as carbon copies of each other, two Big Ten teams with top 15 rated defensive units and bottom 20 offensive groups. The main difference going into the game was the win/loss record, Iowa came in 2-1 after dropping their week two matchup against Iowa St. in a close 10-7 affair, while the Scarlet Knights stood a perfect 3-0 through non-conference play. The primetime match up in Piscataway was anticipated to be a duel between two of the top punters in the conference and the nation. The defenses overall did play well for both teams, however the offenses went from just being underwhelming to downright hindrances to their respective defensive and special team units. The Scarlet Knights featured only one QB for the first time this season, presumably due to a lingering injury to Gavin Wimsatt. Evan Simon was the man at the helm for the Knights and it unfortunately was not pretty for the Rutgers offense. Simon went 28/49 on pass attempts throwing for an even 300 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, this was overshadowed by two costly interceptions, one of which was returned for an Iowa touchdown. The leading rusher in support of Simon was highly touted freshman Samuel Brown V, who rushed for 34 yards on 6 carries. Another ugly offensive mishap came off a swing pass to Joshua Youngblood, which resulted in a fumble and another Iowa defensive touchdown. Neither offense never truly got into a rhythm and the two Iowa defensive touchdowns were the defining moments of the game. The final score saw Iowa hand Rutgers its first loss of the season with a final score of 27-10. The Scarlet Knights and Iowa both exit the month of September 3-1 with challenging matchups on October 1st against #3 Ohio St. on the road and #4 Michigan at home respectively.

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