Rutgers-Minnesota movie review: PJ Fleck beats Greg Schiano at his own game

A week after dominating Indiana with a strong ball-control offense and suffocating defense, Rutgers got a taste of his own medicine in Minneapolis. The Scarlet Knights (4-4, 1-4) and head coach Greg Schiano were thoroughly outplayed in their own game in Saturday’s 31-0 loss to Minnesota and Schiano protege PJ Fleck.

Rutgers’ defense couldn’t get out of the field against the Golden Gophers (5-3, 2-3) and their elite running back Mohamed Ibrahim, with the hosts holding the ball for 41 minutes and two seconds. The Scarlet Knights offense, without star running back Sam Brown and led by redshirt freshman quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, couldn’t capitalize on the limited opportunities it had.

The result: a kick in the butt at Huntington Bank Stadium with jaw-dropping numbers.

– In 10 practices, the Rutgers offense has not passed Minnesota’s 36-yard line. He reached that point twice – on the first drive of the game and the penultimate drive – resulting in a punt and turnover on the downs, respectively. The Scarlet Knights threw five times and committed four turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble, one turnover on downs) in what was their first shutout loss since November 2021 against Penn State and Minnesota’s first shutout victory in a game in the Big Ten since October 2004 against Illinois.

– Rutgers converted just seven first downs in the afternoon, the fewest he has managed in a game since a 25-7 loss to Michigan State in November 2019. The current interim offensive coordinator , Nunzio Campanile, was also leading that attack in that game, then serving as interim head coach after the dismissal of Schiano’s predecessor, Chris Ash.

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–The Rutgers defense missed 13 tackles, according to ProFootballFocus, by far the most they’ve missed in a game this season. The Scarlet Knights had missed 21 total tackles in their first seven games, per PFF, with the previous single-game record being seven missed tackles against Ohio State and Iowa.

– Rutgers allowed Minnesota to score on five trips to the red zone, giving up four touchdowns and a field goal. The Scarlet Knights have now allowed their opponents to score on all 18 red zone possessions they have faced this season, a 100% conversion rate that is tied with Notre Dame for the worst red zone defense in the game. country. The duo are set to join Arizona 2021 as the second and third FBS teams in the past 16 years to drop a score on every red-zone trip they’ve defended throughout an unaffected season. by COVID.

– Rutgers committed nine penalties, continuing an ugly trend that prevailed throughout the fall. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 8.4 penalties per game in their seven meetings with FBS opponents this season – the eighth-highest rate in the nation, according to TeamRankings – and they’re committing them all over the field (more details here). below).

Here’s a rundown of our observations after rewatching the film:

New-look Offense has familiar issues

On his 19th birthday, the Scarlet Knights gave Wimsatt his first career start against a Big Ten opponent.

The redshirt freshman completed six of 17 pass attempts for 68 yards, one interception and no touchdowns while gaining nine yards on four carries (watch every throw/run here). He left the game early in the fourth quarter after his head hit the turf from a hard kick as he slid.

Detailed statistics of Gavin Wimsatt’s performance against Minnesota, via ProFootballFocus.

Wimsatt’s performance was not good, but she was better than the stats would suggest.

Yeah, there were a few poor throws and decisions: he knocked down a wide-open Johnny Langan about three feet on what would have been a third conversion, he should have gotten the ball in and run into space a few times and he miscommunicated wide receiver Sean Ryan at least twice.

But his four goals at Ryan were great throws, he looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket than he ever has and his teammates didn’t do him a lot of favors:

– His receivers dropped three assists at crucial times, two back-to-back with the Scarlet Knights trailing 14-0 in the third quarter. The first, on a 2nd and 15, was from tight end Matt Alaimo, who could have put Rutgers in the firing range for the first time all afternoon had he not dropped a ball that had hit him in the hands. On the next play, wide receiver Chris Long couldn’t catch a pass that Wimsatt threw slightly behind him.

“Dips are inexcusable at this level,” Schiano said. “Does this happen once in a while? Yeah. Not five of them. That’s all that counts in my assessment. One of the things is that he throws the ball hard. You’d better prepare your hands to catch it. It’s something we all have to get used to. But yeah… that’s not acceptable.

–His offensive line struggled to protect passes, allowing six pressures, four quarterback rushes and two sacks, per PFF. Right tackle Hollin Pierce had a tough game, giving up four presses, three rushes and a sack. The other sack was awarded to left guard JD DiRenzo.

– The line didn’t fare much better on the field, failing to create push for a running back unit that lost its best player of the season. The Scarlet Knights struggled without Brown, with the trio of Kyle Monangai, Al-Shadee Salaam and Aaron Young gaining a total of 37 yards on 13 carries (3.1 yards per carry).

All but one of those yards came after contact, by PFF, but only one of their carries went further than five yards; Monangai had a 14-yard gain in the fourth quarter after Wimsatt left the game.

Before assessing whether Wimsatt should start against Michigan’s No. 4 this weekend, it’s important to know if he will be available.

Schiano didn’t share a specific update on Wimsatt’s status after the game, but on the BTN show, sideline reporter Rick Pizzo said the quarterback received his helmet after spending “approximately five minutes to be assessed” in the injury tent and was “eligible to come”. back in the game” following his injury.

The defense could not leave the field

Rutgers entered Saturday’s game with an elite third defense and strong rushing defense, ranking eighth nationally in third down conversion rate allowed (28.6%) and ninth in yards in rushing yards allowed (98.8 yards allowed per game) against FBS opposition, per TeamRankings.

The Scarlet Knights looked nowhere near as solid in Minneapolis.

Rutgers allowed Minnesota to convert 13 of 19 third downs they faced (68.4 percent) and once on fourth down in as many attempts. The Scarlet Knights conceded a conversion on Minnesota’s first six tries, and after Rutgers earned their first save, the Gophers simply converted on the following fourth down to go up 14-0 midway through the second quarter.

“We didn’t run the third down,” Schiano said. “For the first time this year, we made mistakes. Well, that’s what we didn’t do. Minnesota executed very well. It’s a bad combination. … We didn’t execute and they did. It really is that simple. And some of the things that are fundamental to what we do, we didn’t do today. I put them on me. It’s my job to basically make us play the way we are capable of. (Defensive coordinator Joe) Harasymiak and myself and the rest of the defensive staff, we’re going to go back to the drawing board and figure out why this happened and try to never let this happen again.

Eight of those 20 total conversions (40%) were conceded to Ibrahim, who swept Rutgers for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries.

The Scarlet Knights were unable to bring the run down, with nine of their 13 tackles missed while he had the ball in hand; 95 of Ibrahim’s 159 rushing yards (59.7%) came after contact, per PFF.

He set the tone for Minnesota’s first offensive play of the game, escaping a tackle attempt by Rutgers nickel Christian Izien in the end zone to avoid giving up a safety. The Gophers would go on to go for 98 yards on the field in 18 games, with Ibrahim scoring the game’s first touchdown from two yards out.

Gopher’s back is elite — he ranks fifth nationally in yards after contact (651 in seven games; 93 per game) and 14th nationally in forced missed tackles (43 in seven games), per PFF — and Rutgers n couldn’t help growing his streak with at least 100 rushing yards in 16 games.

“We knew (stopping him) was a tall order, but we were confident we were going to do it,” Schiano said. ” … He is very good. It’s a no-brainer, one of the best in the country. What he has is great vision and patience. They run inside and outside the zone and he knows very well how to handle these games. … But again, the third down, I thought that was the big deal that I think really grabbed us.

The problem of penalties persists

On offense, center Ireland Brown was called for two false starts. The first came on a 3-and-4 on the game’s second drive, turning a manageable down into a tough one for an offense led by a young quarterback. Rutgers would end up not converting, with Wimsatt sailing a pass over Langan’s head. The second came after the Scarlet Knights picked up back-to-back first downs in a promising third-quarter drive that would eventually stall due to passes from Alaimo and Long.

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On defense, nickel Shaquan Loyal committed pass interference on a third down in the third quarter in which the Scarlet Knights were stopped. This allowed the Gophers to continue the ride, and although they were eventually stopped and forced to clear, they still burned three minutes and 40 seconds behind.

On special teams, Rutgers made an illegal block in the back in a comeback for the second game in a row. The Scarlet Knights also lined up offside at the second half kickoff, an inexcusable error by second linebacker Austin Dean.

Quick hits:

– The first quarter lasted 24 minutes in real time. College football would be a better product if it became the norm.

— This week’s Greg Schiano lip-reading challenge: The postgame hug with Fleck after Minnesota scored a touchdown to go 31-0 with a minute left.

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Brian Fonseca can be reached at [email protected].

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