The Rutgers University football program has been on quite a bumpy ride since the summer. From a suspended head coach to a handful of suspended players, the Scarlet Knights are an interesting bunch to watch. Coming to Ann Arbor with a record of 3-5, they would love to escape the Big House with a win.
Rushing Offense against Rutgers
The Rutgers defense has given up back-to-back 100 yard rushers the last two contests. Facing Ohio State and Wisconsin, Rutgers is now looking at another team in Michigan that depends heavily on the run for offensive success. Giving up 155 yards a game on the ground, the Scarlet Knights have also surrendered 20 rushing touchdowns.
Rutgers will use Sebastian Joseph and Julian Pinnix-Oddrick to try and clog the running lanes. The defensive tackles have tallied 36 tackles, 4.5 for loss. Behind them are a group of linebackers that make plenty of tackles.
Currently sitting at 91 tackles, Redshirt junior linebacker Steve Longa should eclipse the century mark at some point during this one. Redshirt senior Quentin Gause comes in with 71- nine of those behind the line of scrimmage.
The Wolverine running back depth chart has a name missing from it. Ty Isaac has mysteriously disappeared from the list and the outsiders have no idea why. He hasn’t been playing much recently since he had a problem holding onto the ball, but we can assume it’s an internal matter that is being taken care of by the coaches.
Drake Johnson and De’Veon Smith top the depth chart once again and will continue to battle for carries. Expect to see Jabrill Peppers in the backfield at some point.
The offensive line must play better for the offense to be effective. And don’t think Grant Newsome burned his redshirt this late in the season to sit on the bench. With subpar play at a few positions, Newsome may see some playing time.
Rutgers has given up 20 rushing touchdowns (that’s more than two a game). Michigan has yet to abandon the run, and they won’t here either. At least two rushing touchdowns will be scored.
Passing Offense against Rutgers
Free safety Anthony Cioffi heads a defense that has accumulated eight interceptions on the season. Cioffi leads the group with three.
That might be the only bright spot. Rutgers defense is giving up almost 300 yards per game through the air. Indiana QB Nate Sudfield threw for 464 and Connor Cook gave them 367 in their meetings earlier this season. If Michigan is going to have big day passing, this should be it.
Will Jake Rudock play this week? Nursing an injury that removed him from the game last week, it looks like he will be available. If not, Wilton Speight will try to build on his game winning drive and lead the offensive attack.
As bad as the Wolverines have been passing, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt and the rest of the cast are just too athletic to not make some noise.
Rushing Defense against Rutgers
Senior Paul James is slated as the starter, but that could be because he’s the elder statesman. Sophomores Josh Hicks and Robert Martin both have over 20 more carries than James and have four touchdowns apiece to James’ one. Rutgers averages 172 yards per game on the ground.
Along the offensive line, Rutgers features three year starting left tackle Keith Lumpkin. Lumpkin teams up with a redshirt sophomore and three redshirt juniors to complete the line that helps average four yards a carry.
A week after giving up the most rushing yards of the season, the front seven will be looking to get back to form. While Mo Hurst and Ryan Glasgow played lights out, the linebackers left something to be desired.
Linebackers have to get off blocks and flow to the ball to stop the Rutgers backs. The defensive line has been doing what seems like double duty because the coaches are depending on them to stop the run as well as get to the quarterback. In a lot of schemes it’s the linebacker’s job to step up and make the tackles close to the line of scrimmage, but this team doesn’t necessarily have that luxury.
The number one defense in the country redeems itself and keeps Rutgers under 100 yards. Do not sleep on the Rutgers running backs though, they are plenty athletic and could break one if the defense breaks down.
Passing Defense against Rutgers
Starter Chris Laviano has Rutgers fans confused. In his first season as a starter, he has looked like both a stud in the making and like someone that has no business on the field. Laviano posts some respectable numbers, 12 touchdowns and 1500 yards, but has thrown eight interceptions along the way.
Rutgers has plenty of athletes on its roster, the most dangerous being Leonte Carroo. He’s only played five games, but has nine touchdowns from the wide receiver position. The first team All-Big 10 pass catcher stands 6’1’’ tall and 215 pounds- similar to the build of MSU wide out Aaron Burbridge.
Jourdan Lewis will draw the assignment of Carroo, and he will probably see better results because Connor Cook isn’t throwing the passes. Laviano has his work cut out for him this week.
The defensive backs probably practiced, talked about, and dreamed about not giving up the big play this week. After such a strong start to the season, they have struggled to keep those plays in front of them during the last two contests.
Jourdan Lewis will battle with Carroo all afternoon. Laviano will probably have to look elsewhere for his other receivers to make plays.
Special Teams against Rutgers
Jabrill Peppers. That is all. Oh yeah, Blake O’Neill and Kenny Allen too.
LRT’s Prediction: Michigan 55 – Rutgers 24
I haven’t been close to a prediction all year, so I’m letting the biggest Michigan fan I know pick it this week, Lindsay.
Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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