Rutgers Football: Three takeaways from 52-0 loss at Michigan

Chris Ash, Rutgers football. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Chris Ash, Rutgers football. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Rutgers football could not find its footing Saturday afternoon in a 52-0 road loss to the Michigan Wolverines. Here are the key takeaways from the game.

An all too familiar pattern for the Rutgers football team is starting to form, just four games into the 2019 season. No offensive production combined with blowout losses. On the opening drive, Michigan marched right down the field to gain an early 7-0 lead. Rutgers had the opportunity to respond and match the momentum of the Wolverines, but as usual, failed to do so. From that point on, the game was all Michigan.

The Scarlet Knights offense had a total of 106 total yards through the air and only 48 yards on the ground. Both of those numbers come from a combined five players. Too many for too little production. RU’s longest drive of the game was nine plays for36 yards and just over five minutes of possession. Here are our three takeaways of the game.

Can the Offense get out of their own way?

The biggest question after a game like this is, “where do they go from here?” The answer has to start with the offense. Some of the horrifying stats were mentioned above, but the numbers only tell a part of the story.

The Michigan defense did a great job game-planning against Isaih Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear. These are RU’s two best players on offense and they were shut down. Both players totaled 109 yards of offense on the day. The Wolverines forced sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski to try and beat them through the air. It was never even close.

Sitkowski was 17 of 24 with 106 yards of passing yards and no interceptions or touchdowns. That is an awesome stat line….if it was for the first quarter of a game. He never felt comfortable throwing the ball more than 20 yards downfield and it showed by his average of just under five yards per attempt.

The offense should hopefully find some solid ground against Maryland next week, especially at home.

Despite the score, the defense did their job

When any team loses 52-0, there is a lot of blame to go around. Just because Rutgers offense failed to score does not mean their defense is at fault for allowing Michigan to do so. By the end of this game, the Scarlet Knights defense was gassed. However, they did not allow Michigan to “run” all over them.

The average field position for the Michigan offense was at their own 40-yard line…for the whole game. Think about how great that is for the offense and all the pressure it put on Rutgers defense. Michigan’s offense had 335 passing yards, 141rushing yards and their leading receiver had 83 yards. For allowing 52 points the whole game, those numbers are not that bad.

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So far this year, the RU defense has tried it’s best to put the offense in a position to score points, or at least keep up with their opponents. The offense has let them down the previous three games. Maryland’s (2-2) offense looked pedestrian against Penn State on Friday, so hopefully, the defense will finally catch the break it deserves.

The writing is on the wall for Coach Chris Ash

Rutgers is no longer playing inspired football against real competition. Their coaching has allowed them to become the laughing stock of the Big 10. People say the Miami Dolphins are so bad that Alabama could beat them in a game. Rutgers is becoming the Big 10’s version of the Fins.

When a team is this historically bad (see 2018 season being outscored 370 to 127), changes have to be made. There is no discipline with this team either. They are last in the conference with 80.3 penalty yards per game. When your team is only producing 154 yards of total offense for the day, you cannot afford to have nine penalties for minus 70 yards against a team like Michigan. Inexcusable.

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Athletic Director Pat Hobbs has given Coach Chris Ash a much longer leash than the fans have. Since his arrival, Rutgers has a record of 8-32. Most universities, with proud college football backgrounds, would have fired someone with that record by now. Rutgers was hoping each year a corner could be turned. I think we have reached the end of that road, folks.