There’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll be blunt; the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were pummeled last Saturday against the ever-so dominant Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 56-0. Ohio State came into High Point Solutions Stadium, slammed its foot onto the gas pedal, and never let up.
All four of the Scarlet Knights’ quarterbacks were held to just 92 total passing yards, with graduate transfer Kyle Bolin completing only 5/14 (35%) of his passes for 56 yards, while Freshman (and heir-apparent) Johnathan Lewis throwing two game-crushing interceptions (one was tipped by his receiver, the other he overshot the pass).
The run game did not fair that well, either. The running tandem of graduate transfer Gus Edwards and senior Robert Martin combined for just 80 yards on 19 touches, stonewalled by an overbearing Ohio State rush defense.
The Scarlet Knights’ defense was nowhere to be found that day. While they forced Ohio State to punt four times throughout the game, they gave up a grand total of 628 offensive yards (342 in the air, 286 on the ground). With an injury-decimated secondary and a front seven that cannot apply enough pressure to check a pulse, the entire defense might as well have ridden the bench for the whole game, and the result would have been the same.
Special teams were also a problem for the Scarlet Knights. The punting game was decent for senior punter Ryan Anderson, helping pin Ohio State in some tight spots. But when senior place kicker Andrew Hayes shanked a 32-yard field goal by having it bounce off the right upright, it all but sealed Rutgers’ shutout.
Great programs are built through great recruitment classes. That’s how Big Ten powerhouses like Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State maintain respectable spots in top 25 rankings. If Rutgers is ever going to reach the level of these three powerhouses (or any Big Ten program, really), the next few recruitment classes will need to be phenomenal. Luckily for the Scarlet Knights, the future is looking mighty bright.
Here are some of the standouts of Rutgers’ “Hard Commit” recruitment class of 2018:
Amad Anderson – WR/SS, Curtis NY (3-star)
A talented athlete on both sides of the ball, Anderson’s ability to break one-on-one coverage and fight for the deep ball have impressed many scouts and recruiters. In a dominant 54-14 win over the Kennedy High School Warriors last Friday, Anderson did his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression, hauling in an incredible one-handed catch for a 15-yard touchdown, along with a 62-yard post route to the house for another score. Over the past two weeks, Anderson has shown that he’s able to make diamonds out of coal; despite great pressure, he comes out shining and invincible. It will be interesting to see where Anderson fits in with a Rutgers receiving roster that is deep in talented youth.
Isaih Pacheco – RB/CB, Vineland, NJ (3-star)
The Rutgers running back core boasts two feature backs that have proven to work well both alone and in tandem. Power back Gus Edwards has received the most carries for the Scarlet knights, racking up a team leading 302 rushing yards on 72 carries for 2 touchdowns, while speed back Robert Martin put up 209 yards and a score this season. With both workhorses graduating later this year, the starting job is left up for grabs between freshman backs Raheem Blackshear and Aslan Pugh.
Do not count Isaih Pacheco out from competing for the starting job next year. Last week against Egg Harbor, Pacheco decimated the opponent’s defense, rushing for 222 yards and a touchdown the 42-6 win. Like Anderson, Scott can work well with what little he has, and can prove to be a dynamic weapon for this Rutgers rushing attack. His efforts come with a heavy heart, however, as his sister passed away three days prior to the game.
“I was really strong about it,” Pacheco told NJ. “I wanted to make it out to practice (Friday), get things off my mind and be there with my brothers. It meant a lot for me they played for my sister and family and city tonight.”
Travon King – TE/DE, Camden, NJ (3-star)
Shifting focus onto the defensive side of the ball, the front line for the Rutgers defense is in desperate need of a youthful injection. With senior defensive ends Kemoko Turay and Darnell Davis, along with senior nose tackle Sebastian Joseph set to leave the program at season’s end, pass rushing will become a major concern, especially with the lack of production from defensive tackles Jon Bateky, Eric Wiafe, and end Kevin Wilkins.
Enter Travon King, a sack master for the Woodrow Wilson Tigers. In 2016, King put up 15 sacks and 44 tackles for loss. In last week’s 26-20 win over Highland High School, King had two sacks on the final two plays of the game. Quick off the ball, strong, and good with his hands, King will bring major playmaking ability and skill to a defensive line in need of both.
The future is looking bright for these future Knights. If their play on the high school gridiron can translate well into the college level, expect Rutgers to have a much more terrifying presence in the Big Ten conference for years to come.
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