Sunday, September 20, 2009


Nonchalant (Adjective, French Origin, Pronunciation non-shuh-lant) - Coolly unconcerned, indifferent, unexcited; casual. This is the nicest word that can be used to describe the Rutgers offense yesterday. Better choices would be uncaring, worthless, terrible, disgusting, awful, or pathetic. The Knights narrowly avoided a fourth quarter meltdown, defeating one of the worst FBS teams, in the form of Florida International, 23-15.

The Scarlet Knights entered the day as 14 point favorites vs. its opponent from the Sun Belt Conference and would have lost the game were it not for a revitalized Rutgers defense that returned two interceptions for touchdowns, which, sadly enough, is twice as many as the offense put on the board. The defense, until yesterday, hasn't been doing its part either. After the game, senior defense end George Johnson stated, "We still got a big chip on our shoulders, though. We're going to carry it all season, to play the way we have to."

Whether or not the criticisms that the defense had received after the first two weeks was the jump start the the unit needed, or they were just woefully unprepared for the first two weeks is of no importance. The bigger issue is whether or not yesterday's performance (5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 42 yds rushing allowed, 2TDs scored) can be replicated for the remainder of the season. If Rutgers has any hope of salvaging the season, it will have to be the defense that carries the team.

The fact that a Rutgers defense is the strongest part of the team is nothing new, but the fact that this year's offense is so woefully anemic is a pain point for most fans. Another sub-par rushing performance (160 yards on 41 attempts) is not the least bit surprising after the first two games. Through three games, the Knights have amassed just 455 yards on the ground on 118 attempts, for a paltry 3.85 yds/carry. This from an offensive line that returned all five starters. Does anyone expect a line that can't muster 200 yards on the ground vs. Florida International (and barely did so vs. Howard, needing a late burst from true freshman De'Antwan Williams in garbage time) to suddenly turn it around vs. Pitt in a few weeks? Coach Schiano, who is still tinkering with the offensive line in week three, admitted after the game that, "we're trying to find the best five." Where are we looking? Didn't we have the best five after last year's seven game winning streak to close the season? How about this spring? Were we still looking at training camp in August? Is this a result of Kyle Flood's promotion? It's time for the coaching staff to go back to square one and teach basic blocking.

Rutgers has been fortunate enough to open the season with a very weak schedule (save for Cincinnati) or this season could be a lot worse. The next two games are at Maryland, which lost to Sun Bowl conference member Middle Tennessee State yesterday, next Saturday and vs. FCS Texas Southern at home on October 10th. Time is running out on the this team to turn it around. The defense appeared to have remedied its issues yesterday, but it's still only one game. They won't be able to keep it up if the line doesn't come together and regain the ability to sustain drives, burn clock and keep the defense off the field.

Irrelevant. That's another word that can be used to describe the Rutgers offense right now. Let's hope the offense can right the ship and this word won't be used to describe the Rutgers 2009 football season.


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