Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Rutgers season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview
Head Coach: Greg Schiano, 76-81, 21st year at Rutgers
2021 Preview: Overall: 5-8, Conference: 2-7
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Rutgers Top 10 Players | Rutgers Schedule & Analysis
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2022
Bowl don’t lie.
Rutgers isn’t going to win the national championship, and it’s not going to play for the Big Ten title anytime soon unless Ohio State leaves for the SEC and everyone else in the division quits playing college football.
So the goal right now is to get to a bowl game no matter what. If that means the program has to rely on past teams to have gone to class, so be it.
Rutgers caught a break last year by having the best Academic Progress Rate among teams with five wins, and that meant it got to go have the fun of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
It was an ugly 38-10 loss to Wake Forest, but so what? Rutgers went to a bowl game, and that’s good enough.
The five wins last year were massive considering the program won a total of 13 games since the 8-5 run in 2014. Best of all, it was the best season in seven years even though the team couldn’t score and the defense couldn’t stop anyone from scoring.
Head coach Greg Schiano needed four seasons in his first run at Rutgers to get everything place to have a winning season. It’s still going to take work, but he made some changes in the coaching staff, went heavy in the transfer portal, and …
He got the team to a bowl game. It can be done at Rutgers.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2022: Offense, Defense NEXT
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2022: Offense
Yeah, the offense needs to be better. It was the worst in the Big Ten on third downs, it was horrible inefficient, and overall the running game was hit-or-miss, but rocked when it was able to get over 200 yards.
With this team under Greg Schiano it’s all about getting physical. He wants a tough team on defense, and the offense has to be able to pound away and control the tempo, which means …
The offensive line has to be stronger, and there’s a whole lot of work being done to make that happen. After a rough season in pass protection, and with the ground game only averaging 139 yards per game, here come the new guys. It doesn’t help that starting left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal left for UCLA and guard Cedrice Paillant is off to Marshall.
Hollin Pierce is locked in at one tackle, and that’s about it for anything that’s set. There’s going to be playing around with the lineup thanks to several key transfers. ULM’s Willie Tyler will likely work at one tackle, Colorado State’s Mike Ciaffoni and Minnesota’s Curtis Dunlap will push for a guard job,
Leading rusher Isaih Pacheco is done, but second-leading running back Kyle Monangai is back after going for 235 yards and four scores, and Aaron Young is a decent veteran who ran for 205 yards sand five scores. They’re fine – they just need the room.
QB Noah Vedral can also run – he was the team’s second-leading ground gainer last year – but the key to his game is hitting the easy throws to keep things moving. The former Nebraska transfer only threw for 1,813 yards and seven touchdowns with seven picks, but he’s still the main option.
The receiving corps isn’t getting as much as help as the O line received, but it got a boost with Taj Harris from Syracuse and Sean Ryan from West Virginia to go along with ultra-quick Aron Cruickshank. Johnny Langan is a good midrange pass catching tight end.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2022: Defense
The defense has to be a whole lot better. Coming up. with lots and lots and lots of takeaways is a given for a Schiano team, but there’s going to be an adjustment with a whole slew of new coaches in the mix starting with Joe Harasymiak from Minnesota as the new defensive coordinator.
The D allowed close to 400 yards per game and was the worst in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense. However …
The secondary is one of the key areas of experience returning. It was a struggle – the lack of a pass rush was a part of it – but Avery Young is a good prospect at one safety and Christian Izien is coming off a strong year at the other spot.
The corners might give up a bit too much and they need to pick off more throws, but Kessawn Abraham, Robert Longerbeam, and Max Melton combined for 26 broken up passes. Melton came up with three of the team’s seven interceptions.
More pressure needs to come from the defensive front. It’s a smallish line that relies on quickness and a rotation, but the combination of Mayan Ahanotua inside and Mohamed Toure outside isn’t bad – Toure should be the best pass rushing option up front. A whole lot of young parts need to rise up at all four spots.
Losing Tyshon Fogg and Olakunie Fatukasi from the linebacking corps hurts. Tyreem Powell will work in the middle and should be a statistical star, and the job will be to find a steady producer at the other job and a good rotation in the 4-2-5 alignment.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Key To The 2022 Offense
Get more third down conversions.
The passing game has to connect down the field a little bit.
2015 was the last time the Rutgers passing game averaged over six yards per try. Last year’s offense averaged under ten yards per completion – 127th in the nation – but that doesn’t matter for the way this team plays as much as hitting the six-yard throw for a first down would.
Rutgers has to control games with the running attack and by keeping drives alive, and it was way too miserable at that. It only converted 31.6% of its chances, going under 30% in seven of the last nine games. That’s the worst the O has been since 2016.
Going back to 2017, Rutgers has only hit 45% in ten games, but it went 7-3 in those.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Key To The 2022 Defense
Take the ball away on a regular basis.
This will be a hard-nosed D that should be able to hold up well enough against the mediocre offenses to hang around in most games – at least for a little while – but realistically, it has to create its own breaks.
Yeah, the D forced a decent 17 takeaways on the year, but eight came in the first two games, six came against Indiana, and a total of three came in the other ten games.
Multiple takeaways haven’t equaled wins over the last several years, but with a sketchy offense, forcing mistakes is a must.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Key Player To The 2022 Season
QB Noah Vedral, Sr.
Rutgers can’t seem to do anything to get steady, excellent quarterback play.
The program has thrown everything at the problem over the years, and still the production hasn’t been there. Last season five different Scarlet Knights threw at least nine passes in an attempt to find something that could click.
Vedral has been around the block. He started out at UCF, followed Scott Frost to Nebraska, and spent the last two years at Rutgers. He has thrown for over 3,800 yards and ran for close to 700 with nine scores in five seasons.
Rutgers just needs him to be okay. To do that, he needs help from …
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Key Transfer
WR Taj Harris, Sr.
The Scarlet Knights lose top two targets Bo Melton and Shaman Jones, but there’s a shot they’ll get more pop with Sean Ryan from West Virginia along with Harris, a big-play receiver who had a good first three years at Syracuse before the offense pivoted to more of a rushing attack.
He’s big, experienced, and he’ll be a No. 1 guy to make life a whole lot easier for the Rutgers quarterbacks.
Rutgers Key Game To The 2022 Season
Nebraska, Oct. 7
Iowa, at Ohio State. That’s how Rutgers starts out the Big Ten season, and then it gets Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers should be improved and far more dangerous, but it’s the middle of the season, it’s a home game, and it’s one of the winnable dates compared to what’s coming over the second half of the season.
Win this, get a week off, and then host Indiana – there’s a chance to a nice midseason mini-run before at Minnesota, Michigan, at Michigan State, Penn State, at Maryland.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 2021 Fun Stats
– Fumbles: Opponents 23 (lost 10) – Rutgers 14 (lost 4)
– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 133 – Rutgers 64
– Passing TDs: Opponents 25 – Rutgers 9
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Can the Scarlet Knights score?
It’s sort of hard to win college football games when you can’t come up with more than 17 points most of the time, and that’s what happened last year with the team failing to get past that in nine of the 13 games.
The offense will be better. The additions from the transfer portal will help, the offensive line will be better, and the veterans at the skill spots should be enough to at least be a bit more productive.
But they’re not going to be able to crank up enough production to hang with the rest of the Big Ten East.
Set The Rutgers Scarlet Knights Regular Season Win Total At … 4.5
Wagner, at Temple. Those have to be two lockdown wins, and beating Indiana at home after getting two weeks off to prepare is a moral imperative.
There will be one other funky win in there somewhere when everything clicks.
Remember, the team pitched a gem in the close loss to Michigan last year, and there will be at least one time when the defense comes up with five takeaways and pulls off something interesting.
However, at Boston College, at Ohio State, at Minnesota, at Michigan State, and probably at Maryland will all be losses unless something weird happens. That’s not counting the home games against Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, and Nebraska.
The team will be better, but the schedule is just too much to get to six wins and a bowl.