The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are in a rebuilding phase as a football program. Their roster is largely comprised of freshmen and sophomores, and with the foundation of the team being built upon youth, the team is experiencing youthful inconsistencies.
Currently, Rutgers is 4-4 and has shown the capacity to be an elite defensive unit (No. 12 in total defense, No. 44 in scoring defense), and a porous offensive unit (No. 121 total offense, No. 114 in scoring offense).
Despite the ups and downs, Rutgers is not a team to be taken lightly. The Scarlet Knights took the Wolverines to the wire last year in Ann Arbor. Last year’s game was Michigan’s worst offensive performance of the season in terms of total yards (275), yards per play (5.1) and first downs earned (12). Rutgers only allowed Michigan to rush for 112 yards and held the passing offense to ONE completed pass in the second half.
The Scarlet Knights will be ready on Saturday.
Head coach Greg Schiano addressed the media for his weekly press conference to discuss the upcoming game against the Michigan Wolverines.
When asked about Michigan’s rushing attack — which is currently ranked No. 2 in the Power Five, and No. 5 overall in FBS — Schiano was quite complimentary on the challenge the Wolverines present:
“Well, it’s hard. Why do they have a good running game? They have a very good offensive line. They have two really good backs — probably more, but two that play a lot. And a quarterback that can run and pass,” Schiano said. “So you have to defend the pass, you have to defend his run. The offensive line is doing a good job blocking and they’ve got two upper echelon running backs. So it’s one of the better outfits in America on offense. We have to do a great job, we have to be at our very best to have a chance to slow them down. Are you going to stop them? No, no one’s stopped them, but we are going to do everything we can to the best of our ability and see where that stacks up.”
Schiano understands his team needs to run the ball better, but also understands improvement against Michigan’s defense is a tall order.
“Michigan is equally adept (as Minnesota) at stopping the run. They’re really, really good, maybe even better (Rutgers rushed for 48 yards against the Gophers). They have a really strong defense — the biggest front we will play against, up front defensively. Their linebackers run really well, their secondary knows where to fit. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Schiano is building something in Piscataway and understands growing pains are a part of the process. However, fully expect Rutgers to do everything in its power to spoil Michigan’s perfect season on Saturday.