In just three Saturdays, the Scarlet Knight faithful will be packed into High Point Solutions Stadium as the 2018 season kicks off in Piscataway. All eyes will be on this Rutgers’ team that has the potential to make a bowl game in head coach Chris Ash’s third year.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done, specifically on offense. In order to win six games this season, the Scarlet Knights need to improve on the offensive side of the ball.
The passing game for the Scarlet Knights was weak at best last season behind returning quarterbacks Gio Rescigno and Johnathan Lewis, who finished at the bottom of the Big Ten for total offense.
When you account for the talented true freshman Artur Sitkowski,who figures to make a push for the starting job, it would appear that the passing game will be less anemic in 2018.
That being said, last season was atrocious in terms of throwing the ball. Rescigno and Lewis each threw for two touchdowns; the Knights only recorded seven receiving touchdowns all season.
Rescigno had the better season of the two, completing 47 percent of his passes while Lewis connected with his receivers only 36.7 percent of the time.
When you look at the rest of Rescigno and Lewis’ statistics, the throwing situation does not look as dire for the Scarlet Knights. Rescigno threw for 517 yards a season ago and Lewis picked up 167 yards as the third string quarterback.
Even better, Rescigno threw only one interception and Lewis had four. Both quarterbacks have work to do, especially when it comes to throwing the football in the red zone, but the foundations are there for both quarterbacks to lead the Scarlet Knights to the postseason.
During a year where the Scarlet Knights struggled to get their passing game established, the Rutgers offense did not give themselves many chances to move the chains.
The offense averaged 13.8 first downs a game, which was dead last in the Big Ten a year ago. In addition, the Scarlet Knights had a 31.7 percent success rate on third down last year, which was 13th in the conference.
The Scarlet Knights simply could not put themselves into a position to win ball games due to their offensive issues. With a new offensive coordinator in John McNulty back on the banks, the Scarlet Knights cannot let the transition take too long.
The Scarlet Knights’ schedule is so back-heavy that if they are not in bowl contention by November, it will be very hard to do so. Rutgers cannot allow themselves to have another offensive deficient team.
While the Rutgers’ defense was able to keep games close a year ago, it will not be enough if the goal is to win six games in 2018. The offense has to carry its weight this season if the Scarlet Knights plan to make their postseason dreams a reality.