Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RU Failing to Seize Momentum

It seems that the growing theme over the past few weeks is the Scarlet Knights offensive ineptitude for converting game changing plays by the defense and special teams into momentum swinging points on the board. While this was masked somewhat in the 31-0 route vs USF it was clearly evident in Saturday’s 31-13 loss at Syracuse. Whether we call this a the product of stating a freshman quarterback in Savage, the atrocious play by the offensive line (particularly the right side), inability to make offensive adjustments or simply poor preparation by the coaching staff, putting the team in the frame of mind to convert these opportunities into actual points needs to be Schiano’s primary concern beginning with Friday’s match up at Louisville. Here’s a summary of the latest offensive miscues following key plays in Saturday’s loss:

Coming off of a Syracuse TD in the 1st quarter, Devin McCourty returns a Syracuse kickoff 54 yards setting the offense up deep inside Syracuse territory. On a key third down play, Savage, who got pressure from all directions the entire day, telegraphs a pass to Tim Wright with Syracuse’s linebackers read the entire time and picks off the pass killing the possession on three plays.

Following the Joe Lefeged’s safety in 2nd quarter Savage gets sacked by Syracuse’s Doug Houge (this week’s national defensive player of the week) after hanging onto the ball too long. While it’s easy to understand Savage not wanting to turn the ball over with an errant pass, he needs to recognize that when no receivers are open, he needs to either move outside of the pocket and create something or simply throw the ball away to avoid the sack. This led to another three and out as Savage gets pressure the entire possession which totaled a mere three downs.

After another McCourty partially blocked punt in the 4th quarter, Rutgers has the ball on its own 42 down 24-13 in the fourth quarter but with more then 8 minutes on the clock. Joe Martinek gets buried for a loss on second down run to the right side and the possession ends after three meaningless plays.

That’s a total of three big plays between McCourty and Lefedged that totaled zero points on Saturday. What this team needs to understand is that its being able to convert these key opportunities is what separates a team like Rutgers from teams that can consistently maintain a top 25 standing year in and year out.


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