Rutgers Needs to Raise Its Game in a Hurry
Next season, Rutgers will be playing in the Big Ten, and while they've been recruting better in New Jersey -- except for Jabrill Peppers -- it still looks like they'll have to do better on the defensive side of the ball.
Fresno State outshot the Scarlet Knights in overtime Thursday night, 52-51, and it may take Rutgers a while to recover from this one. Quarterback Gary Nova -- an Elmwood Park, New Jersey native -- was spectacular in defeat, throwing for five touchdowns and 348 yards. On the other side, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr also threw for five touchdowns and had 73 attempts in the game.
Josh Quezada put Fresno up 7-0 early, but Jamarion Grant returned the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. The Knights jumped ahead 20-7 on two field goals by Kyle Federico and a 69-yard pass from Nova to another Jersey native, Leonte Carroo. The Bulldogs fought back and took a 21-20 half time lead, as Carr hit Davante Adams with a two-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the half.
The second half was dominated by the offenses, as both teams moved up and down the field. Nova hit Brandon Coleman on a one-yard touchdown pass, putting the Scarlet Knights up 31-28 after three quarters, but Carr hit Adams again four minutes later to regain the lead for the Bulldogs.
Carroo caught two more touchdown passes from Nova, the second one with 1:18 left to put Rutgers ahead 45-38. Carr led Fresno right back, however, hitting Josh Harper on a two-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 38 seconds left. Rutgers actually got into field goal range as time expired but Federico missed a 43-yard attempt as final gun went off.
Fresno State scored first in overtime, as Carr immediately hit Greg Watson on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Then Rutgers came right back with Nova hitting Coleman for six., but the Scarlet Knights gambled and went for the win on a two-point conversion that just missed as Nova tried to hit Coleman again.
That set the final score at 52-51 and will have the Rutgers defensive coaches scrambling to come up with a better game plan.
They have time to get things right. The Knights' home opener is against Norfolk State (4-7 last season), followed by Eastern Michigan (2-10) in Week 3.
Rutgers had best use that time judiciously. Arkansas (4-8 in 2012) comes to town in Week 4 with a new coach and a chip on its shoulder. That's when they'll discover what their one and only season in the American Athletic Conference -- the old Big East -- will have in store for them.