Is Mother Nature a Rutgers fan? The Scarlet Knights get the blessing of playing their spring game on a sunny 80 degree day this Saturday, April 14th. This game will bring an end to spring ball, but with the first game against Texas State still five months away, roster spots are still nowhere near guaranteed. With that being said, lets take a look at some things to keep an eye out for while watching this year’s spring game.
Hop on the Bo Melton train early
Bo Melton had a disappointing season last year considering injuries, tough competition, and shaky quarterback play, which is a let down considering his talent. Coming out of high school Melton was the No. 7 recruit in New Jersey, and his highlight tape speaks to it. The sophomore receiver has been putting on a clinic during spring practice. I expect that trend to continue, with Bo Melton making a couple big plays to put a stamp on an already strong spring. “Choo Choo!”
Expect the linebacking core to show its depth
Senior Deonte Roberts and Trevor Morris led the defense in tackles in 2017, and will be back to continue to anchor the defense. Tyreek Maddox-Williams, who was selected to the 2016 Big Ten All-Freshman team at strongside linebacker, will make his debut on the outside this year following a torn ACL which sidelined him for the 2017 season. Tyshon Fogg and Rashawn Battle are two sophomore linebackers with enough size to show they can hang in the Big Ten. New linebacker’s coach Toby Neines also has new pieces to play with in gifted athletes like sophomores Olakunle Fatukasi and Malik Dixon.
Versatile Quarterback Play
All quarterbacks bring a different element to the game this year, and it still isn’t determined whose skill set will be the most fitting. The main focus will be on quarterbacks Johnathan Lewis and Artur Sitowski, two big talents with bigger arms. Both quarterbacks have similar skill send both have the same amount of experience with this new offense under John McNulty. The biggest thing to watch for with these two is their command. Who looks more comfortable, and more like they are leading their group effectively
Western Michigan transfer Tom Flacco will make his hometown debut as junior. The quarterback was unable to play for Rutgers in the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Dual threat Jalen Chatman, who scored 58 touchdowns his junior year at Narborne High School, will be another upside player to keep an eye out for.
Really? Not exactly, don’t expect new offensive coordinator John McNulty to open up his bag of tricks this early in the year. However, the skeleton will be there and that alone could shape up to provide some big plays.
.@RFootball's Offensive Coordinator @CoachJMcNulty has a ton of talent to work with. Under his supervision, McNulty could lead a strong offense for the Scarlet Knights this season. #TheHunt #RFootball #RFamilyhttps://t.co/n6Sv2GaZ84
— Armchair Rutgers (@ArmchairRutgers) March 29, 2018
Play-action and downfield routes were part of the system last time McNulty was a Scarlet Knight, and the result was extraordinary. Again, don’t expect McNulty to show his hand at all really, but expect to see a few explosive players take advantage of the watered down new offense. Reminder: Explosive plays (runs of 10+ yards & passes of 15+ yards) count for two points.
Will the energy transfer over?
This is a day where the team should ultimately have fun, and display the energy that they’ve been practicing with. Anyone who has been part of a sports team knows how easy it is to read how close-knit and put together a team is, whether it is looking at your own team or the opposing. This will be on full display this Saturday. The culture that Chris Ash has built all the way from the Migos concert last year and prior, needs to show that it has transitioned over to this year. There aren’t x’s and o’s to this one, it’s the simplicity that is a team’s mentality.