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Base D - 4-3 Under was the standard, but they played a bit of 3-4 as well is certain situations. Mostly a two-high safety look, lots of Cover 2 and Cover 6; passive defense.
- I was impressed with the progress by Laviano. He still has somethings he needs to improve, but he looked much more comfortable with the timing of the offense and getting the ball out of his hands.
- The RBs that did play flashed, but weren't consistent enough. I still expect James to start when he comes back
- I like the FB and TE group. Lots of numbers here, look like they should block well and allow Rutgers to establish a run game.
- Some of the OL struggled, especially in pass blocking. Much further along in the run game.
- Pinnix-Ordick was one of the more consistent player. If Wiafe can improve his consistency, he'll be a good one.
- Like the OLB group a lot. Turay and Davis should both be able to generate pressure and be an issue for OTs.
- The ILB group is going to need to improve a lot. They struggled in both run fits and in the pass game; got picked on a lot. Improvement against the run will start with them.
QB - I was actually much more impressed by Laviano in the Spring game than I was with his limited performance last year. I still think he has his struggles, some of his secondary reads are inconsistent or late, and he tends to push the ball from his shoulder which results in him fighting his own arm strength to get the ball to his receivers, but his timing was better, especially on first reads and underneath throws, and his footwork was a bit improved. Still, he does need to improve some of his downfield decisions. His first TD pass, for instance, should have been picked off by two different defenders because of a poor read of a sinking CB; this, and plays like it, lead me to believe he's basing a lot of his throws on pre-snap looks rather than on the defensive movement. It's going to be something to look out for when the season comes around (Rutgers stayed in mostly a two-high defense) when a defense throws a change-up coverage at them, to see if he can read it properly.
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RB - I'll start by saying that I like Paul James; but he didn't play. I expect him to be the starter in the Fall.
Hicks flashes. He's the clear #2 ahead of the other guys. There are instances where he makes a nice play and shows some burst and some vision, or makes a really nice subtle cut to set up his blocks (there was a really nice one on a Power O play where the OLB wrong armed the FB, and Hicks was patient and set up the pulling block from the OG); but then there are times where he just doesn't make plays on his own. He wastes movement or his feet go stagnant or he can't make a guy miss at all in space. There were nice runs, but there were also small things he did where he left yards on the field. Those 2 or 3 yards on some runs are the difference between 2nd and 10 and 2nd and 7, and are huge in the grand scheme of things.
Martin and Goodwin still need more time I think. Both lack the vision right now to be every down players, and because of that they aren't reading their blocks quickly enough or making the most out of their blocking. A one-two punch of James and Hicks should be solid going forward.
FB - It's always fun watching FBs play, and I think Rutgers has some good ones still. Gross looked comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield, which should be an asset for this offense. I thought Bergan was the better blocker right now. There were times when he got into a stalemate and didn't quite do enough with his block, and there were some times of confusion (the Counter F scheme wasn't run very well a couple times); but for the most part I think Bergan can be a good lead blocker for the run game this upcoming year.
TE - At this point, I don't think there is a serious playmaker in the TE group; but they should be solid. Arcidiacono and Lister both struggled with balls thrown outside their body; not easy catches but ones you want them to make. Flanagan may have been my favorite of the group so far. All can block fairly well for the position, showing flashes of some really good blocks, and all can take what is given to them without any major issues catching the ball (they run decent routes, can catch passes thrown inside their body, etc). They won't be athletes that severely threaten the defense vertically or in the seam, but they can run some shallow crosses, some hitch routes, and some bench routes and keep the chains moving for the offense.
WR - We'll start off again saying that Curroo didn't play, and he'll be one of the better WRs in the league. The supporting cast though isn't as strong. Matthews showed the most out of the group, but he struggled a bit with his blocking assignments and didn't consistently get good separation from the DBs. Agudosi I thought was a little too passive and didn't set up his routes too well with his stem. Patton had an easy drop.
Most of the WR routes were deep and Rutgers DBs were playing very soft or trying to drop underneath those routes, so there wasn't a lot to be had there compared to the underneath stuff; but when given the opportunity, there wasn't as much separation as I would have liked to see.
OL - The tackles (Applefield and Denman) struggled for a lot of this one, mostly in their pass drops, but also with some missed assignments. The speed rush killed both as both looked very mechanical in their drops with a lot of wasted movement and not getting to a good point to open up their hips and carry the defender past the play. Denman at least made some nice plays in the run game; a good zone block here or a crushing double there. Applefield kind of struggled as a whole (should have been able to get his helmet upfield and seal a DE, missed protections, etc).
I thought Brodie looked better than Miller at the OG spot, though Brodie was a little inconsistent with his skip pulls (sometimes getting too deep or standing too tall). But Miller did more reaching and because he didn't consistently move his feet, struggled to stay in front of some defenders and lost some hand battles.
Lumpkin (LT) and Cole (LG) had some nice run blocks and Lumpkin looked much more comfortable right now than Applefield (to be expected, Lumpkin is expected to start).
The OL as a whole has some inconsistencies. They don't dominate the LOS in the run game and they aren't great in pass pro, but they do show some abilities to get into assignments and do enough to get the job done.
DL - Hamilton will be a handful for a lot of OLs, but he didn't play. In his stead, I saw some players make some nice plays.
Wilkins flashed a bit at the NT position; and showed when he does fire off the ball low that he can be disruptive and make plays at the point of attack. Pinnix-Ordick made some good plays and I didn't see him make many bad ones. Wiafe flashed both ways, making some really nice plays but struggling against some double teams or if the blocker could get latched onto him. Bedell still looks too small to handle the point of attack and got whooped a couple times. Hogan is good on the move, but is also undersized at this point. Bateky made a nice play in there as well.
OLB/DE - Easily the best group on this defense. Turay went off in this game, his speed rush and hand quickness generally too much on the edge for the blockers. I really like how well he fires out of his stance: low, quick, and explosive. If he can develop a little bit of an inside counter, he will be a serious problem in the offensive backfield this upcoming season.
Davis was another guy I liked. He showed good explosiveness out of his stance and did well on the edge, and is good with his hands.
Some of the other guys struggle a bit more, particularly in space. Gause played a little outside and inside, and struggled in coverage. I think he's decent when he gets to the point of attack, but really struggled when inside (more in a second). Rafferty struggled from an Apex position playing his assignment; you have to know your assignment and if you go to make a play outside of it, you better make that play.
All the OLBs right now are better in the box than when they are forced to split outside.
ILB - This is where a lot of the struggles are for this defense. Russell, Gause, and Roberts were in the majority of my notes, struggling to read the play in front of them quickly enough and work through the wash. If the DL doesn't handle the OL, the ILBs struggle to make plays at this point. Occasionally, you saw them read and react quickly, and that's when they stopped the run game, but too many false steps and not enough vision to see how plays are forming to really be solid yet.
In pass coverage it was all kinds of issues. Right now, Rutgers drops their ILBs fairly deep and into zones. I really didn't see a single instance where an ILB actually covered a man instead of grass. They dropped and their feet stopped and the throw was completed and then they broke on the ball. This was easy yards underneath repetitively. Likewise, vision was an issue. Walling off receivers never happened because they rarely saw them coming. Picking up a cross rarely happened because they weren't diagnosing things in front of them.
Throwing over the middle is more difficult for a lot of teams, so that may mitigate some of the concern here, but this was something that was exposed in the spring game and will likely be an issue going into the season.
DBs - Reading DBs is difficult on BTN because of the tight camera angle. Looked like lots of Cover 2 with the CBs focused on sinking.
I thought Wharton did a nice job a few times sinking underneath throws. This will result in turnovers which is a good thing. However, I think there were also times when he was too focused on sinking and failed to break forward to the flat receiver. This resulted in a lot of easy throws to the flat and when the ball got to the flat, a really slow reaction to making the tackle.
Austin is still quite raw (he's a FR), but he's struggling with angles and technique right now. Getting eyes back to the ball when in trail technique, worrying too much about a block, properly reading his keys, etc. He looks like a good enough athlete, but needs to improve the mental and technical parts of his game.
Boggs had a really bad miss trying to jam a receiver, but made a nice play on the corner blitz. Cioffi looked like he moved back to safety, where he's still learning some of the nuance, particularly in the run game. Verbitski struggled covering the slot and doesn't look like a viable option to cover in man. I do like what I saw from Hunt filling in the run game; he may be an option at SS.
1st Half Raw Notes
Hamilton, James, Curroo I don't think are playing.
Starting in 01 Personnel. Defense in Under front. Rutgers goes C3. Good read by Laviano to read the flat defender and throw it inside on the bench/stick combo.
Offset Strong I. Power O against a 3-4 front (can't tell shade). Nice job by the OLB to wrong arm the FB and win the inside gap (knowing a defender has gap responsibility outside of him. FB can't wash him further inside. Would like to see more from Hicks (RB) in this situation. Had a small gap to get skinny through, but just ran right up FB's back instead.
11 personnel. Goes back to teh TE stick. Nice timing on the throw, but the arm action is a little poor. Flanagan does well to get separation from the LB and get eyes back around to the QB, but has to drop to knees to make the otherwise uncontested catch.
Looks like a 4-3 Under from the defense. Strong I again. Rutgers runs weakside IZ. Looks like Hicks just thinks he can get the bounce here. Doesn't look like the RT (Denman) got the playcall, as he's dropping on the snap. Davis (OLB) can get penetration at the snap and set the edge pretty deep, forcing the ball to bounce deep and allow quick flow from the rest of the defense.
Can't see much because BTN doesn't widen out until after the play. Looks like weakside IZ again. Hicks (RB) makes a really nice subtle cut in the backfield to widen out the defender and set up the block. He then gets skinny in the gap and hides behind his OL, allowing him to push ahead for a nice gain. Nice job by Hunt (S) stepping up and making a nice form tackle from the safety position
Twins I. Under front from D. Very weak PA fake. Know your QB's drop as a OL. RT (Denman) allows DE to beat him up field on the speed rush and has straight shot at the QB. Forces Laviano up in the pocket. Laviano gets get zip on a pass that probably wasn't the best read as the flat defender is sinking underneath it. Difficult to tell the accuracy of it though. Hit Arcidiacono (TE) in the hands but can't tell if it was outside his body or what. Almost picked off by sinking defender (Wharton). Looks like Cover 4 Knob w/ CB (Wharton) playing a C2 corner position. Upon replay, throw was well outside TE's body. Lots of pushing motion from Laviano early. Ball gets pushed from his shoulder. Has good velocity in the air, but sinks on him as he fights his arm strength. That two throws that sunk as they got to the target.
Weak I. D in a 3-4 Over. PA. Lenman is struggling a bit now, gets choppy feet and then reaches for the OLB but whiffs. Can't reach and whiff the body, allows the defender to get control. Nice job by Davis (OLB) to win his hands into the OL. Looks like C3 from D, similar route patern/read for Laviano, who this time sees Wharton (CB) drop into his third and finds the FB (Gross) in the flat for a nice gain. Clean catch from Gross (FB). Either Roberts (ILB) or Wharton busted on this play, as there was absolutely no one covering the flat. Either way, Roberts needs to find his target after the PA (got sucked too far in anyway) and turn and run. Too much side stepping and not gaining any depth/width in his zone. ILB zones might be a concern for Rutgers.
11 personnel, as Rutgers flexes out field OLB into an Apex. Looks like C6. Denman (RT) succeeds here, but has a lot of wasted movement and just isn't very fluid looking dropping into his stance. Unnatural body lean and not great at hand fighting, but this time gets body in position to handle the edge at least. Wiafe (DE) can win late with constant hand fighting, but really doesn't show any move and the RG does well to at least maintain inside position; may have allowed Laviano to step up and through pocket. But a clear read that Laviano reads quickly as the CB is driven off and Arcidiacono (TE) settles in the flat. Looks like MOD coverage on that side, but no one covers the flat again. Austin (CB) needs to read this quicker as he opens up to watch the QB on his drop. I like the pace Laviano is getting rid of the ball, but he's getting a lot of open/clear reads so far.
Weak I. China concept verse a two-high defense. CB is sinking hard from a C2 flat position and reads this well. Rutgers playing a lot of C2/C6 type coverages but really sinking the CBs to #1 and allowing the flat reception. Laviano trusts his read of the safety more than of his movement key, this is a throw that should be made in the flat to the wide open FB, but he forces it. Ball goes through Wharton's (CB) hands who reads the corner route from #1, and right into Agudosi's (WR) hands for the TD. Decent, not great, velocity on the throw, more luck than anything though.
Strong I. D in a 3-4. Crack motion (lots of outside-to-in motion in this game). Power O. Gause (OLB) does really well to wrong arm the FB deep in the backfield. This forces the pulling OG (Brodie) to go really deep, though it looks like he's too deep to start anyway. He's also too high out of his stance and doesn't display great foot speed here. Matthews (WR) misses his crack assignment and Johnson (ILB) beats the pulling OG to the backfield, keeps outside (gap) arm free and wraps up for the TFL. Nice play by him. I want to see Martin (RB) be a little more patient and set up the block for his OG to kick the LB here, that changes a TFL to a no gain.
Pro I. Running weak a lot in this game with Lead Zone. Stalemate along the LOS, no side winning more than the other, but Turay (standup DE) just abuses Applefield (LT). Really like how Turay fired out of his stance low and got low into the OL's body here. This is a footwork problem from the LT though, got caught with poor balance and that's why he was able to get leveraged as much as he did. But Martin can cut back because of the stalemate elsewhere
11 personnel from gun. 3-4 D with a flex to the twins. I'm liking Turay on the edge here, gets a really good first step burst and it makes it difficult for the OT to handle. Pinnix-Ordick (DE) also wins with a speed rush on the OG. Cover 2 look from the D and the ILB is really sinking to get depth. Keep everything in front is the motto. Should be a fairly easy pitch and catch to the TE on the spot route, as the LB (Gause) has given way too much cushion (he's covering a zone, not a man in the zone), but throw from Rescingo (QB) is too high for Lister (TE) who tips it in the air and Gause gets the INT. Would like to see Lister make a play on this ball, it's got some heat and he's fairly close, but his hands are pretty slow tracking the ball. This is a catchable pass that turns from a 5 yard gain to an INT. It should be more accurate, but you need your TE to be able to catch a pass outside his body. Gause actually looked pretty athletic with the ball in his hands after the INT. Nice run back.
Strong I with crack motion again. Power O. Again, the OLB wrong arms the FB well but doesn't meet him in the backfield as Bergen (FB) does well with his block. This clears a path for Brodie (RG) to pull (he's tipping with his stance pre-snap) who does a bit better staying lower out of his skip pull but looks a bit confused at the point of attack as a defender goes low and he just falls on top. Really need Hicks to do more here, this should be a good gain, he has a decent run inside or outside, but his feet stop when he's making his decision. Never stop your feet as a RB, always be gaining something, and even if it's the wrong choice at least it sets up the defense or gains you something. But he stops and is indecisive and allows the defense to get back into it, especially when he finally decides on cutting inside.
Crack motion again, this time Rutgers running a mesh concept. ILBs really struggling in coverage here, dropping really deep and no one on either WR (#88 Patton or #13 Agudosi). Worse from the LB POV is the eye discipline, their eyes aren't going where they need to go to find the threat, thus, they are just reacting to the throw after the throw is made. Russell (ILB) really gets caught up and should have a tackle on Agudosi immediately on the catch (the throw from Laviano is late here as he was stuck too long on his alert, but did well with his eyes once he worked to the mesh), but then Russell doesn't break down in his stance and tries to simply run with the WR, but isn't fluid enough to stop and make a tackle. Agudosi shows some good footwork to cut it back inside and then really wants to find the end zone. Like seeing him dip his shoulder and fight for the end zone.
Nice job from Hunt (S) to step up and really take away the edge on the stretch play. Forced this play back inside and then dove at the legs of the RB, tripping him up. Davis (OLB) does well to track this from the backside too. Unblocked as he typically is given the offensive scheme, but goes straight down the LOS to make a play from the backside.
G Lead to the boundary. Flanagan (TE) does just enough to seal the defender inside. Want to see a little better feet from him so the OLB can't threaten the play in the backfield. Need to get contact and drive, but gets too far upfield on him and almost allows the TFL. Like Bergen's (FB) kick block on the hard charging defender, allowing a clear cut upfield for Hicks (RB). Very good TD saving tackle from Hampton (S) who really drives and wraps into Hicks hips and and doesn't allow him to fall forward. If Hicks drops his shoulders or makes better use of his hands he can score a TD here.
Power O. Denman (RT) and Arcidiacono (TE) get a really good double at the POA and the TE continues on the block, completely driving the DE (Bedell) out of the hole. That almost alone was enough for the TD.
Weak I. Counter F. This should be a nice gain for the offense, as the D over flows on the counter. The backside OLB washes well inside. But Cole (LG) recognizes him late and is indecisive at the POA. The FB also recognizes him a bit late, and both go for the same block. Then the RB (Goodwin) basically runs right into these blocks when he could bounce it for a big gain inside or a big gain outside, and the second level isn't completely blocked. Not sure if it's vision or feet for the RB here to not make the cutback, looks like he only went part way and decided to jam it up in there. Just some lack of comfort with the scheme when everything doesn't start nominally.
Looks like Cover 1 from the D, press coverage. Boggs completely whiffs his jam on the #1 WR. as Matthews (WR) gives one step inside and then gets a free release outside. Don't lunge on the jam. The safety (Cioffi) in coverage looks like he thinks the inside move from the WR means there should be a switch, and so he also follows the WR deep as the TE (Scarff) works underneath on a basic wheel route that he adjusts to a bench as no one is covering him (only coverage is over the top). Wide open for miles and able to turn it up field for a big gain. Busted coverage. Lucky for defense that Applefield (LT) didn't get a great drop (a lot of wasted movement between steps, just looks really un-fluid in his drop) so that the OLB (Turay) beats him to his position. The OLB does a good job staying low on his speed rush and then punching up and through the LT, knocking him back, off balance, and not allowing him to get his body in front of the defense. This results in a hold. Really like what I'm seeing from Turay, if he has an inside move he has the athleticism to really set it up against a lot of teams.
Good third and long traditional screen call. Applefield (LT) gets beat a little too easily by Turay, as does the RT, who oddly just drops his hands as a way of inviting the DE to get a free rush at his QB. But Scalon (QB) can get the ball out. Poor job by Gause (ILB) here to step up and into the play for no reason, allowing the OL to seal him inside. Have to recognize the threat and not put yourself in the wash given the situation. But defense rallies and makes play well short.
11 personnel under center. Stretch to the weakside to the Loose OLB (Rafferty). Rafferty is supposed to have force, but tries to duck underneath the slot. But when he tries to duck under, the slot seals him inside completely. Likewise, Lenman (RT) is able to keep his helmet across the DE who starts with an inside shade. DE is almost able to win across, you'd like to see Lenman with a little better feet here so he could start working up field in the event Rafferty did his job, not a bad job by the DE getting parallel to the LOS given his starting position. Rest of the defense caught in the wash a little bit. Russell (ILB) actually avoids most of it but doesn't have the speed to beat Hicks (RB) to the sideline. Abdur-Ra'oof (S) takes a bad angle coming forward and Austin (CB) maintains a free outside arm to prevent anything from going outside, but simply doesn't make a play on the ball carrier, lets him go by without even laying a finger on him; likely too concerned with who is going to block him. Primary missed assignmetn is Rafferty, second biggest is Austin, the rest stem from those guys' mistakes. Hampton (S) does a nice job chasing the play from the far side of the field to prevent this from going the distance. Like Hicks balance on the sideline to turn this up field.
11 personnel. PA. Miller (RG) gets whooped by Wiafe (DE), who is able to use his hands and shed him with an inside move. Must maintain inside leverage. Not much Laviano can do here.
11 personnel, more running to the weakside. Stretch again, attacking the apex OLB. Bateky (DE) does a really nice job flowing with the football, actually winning his helmet across Applefield (LT) despite aligning inside of him initially. This forces Hicks (RB) to bang the ball inside the EMOL. Wiafe (DE) again chases the play really well from the backside, using his hands well to fend off the RG (Miller) and beating Lenman (RT) to the spot which forces Hicks to cut it straight up field. Blue (DT) is able to make the play from the backside after initially giving ground on the snap. Russell (ILB) completely misread this play and went into a zone drop before coming up and making a play. Likewise, the backside ILB (Roberts) was slow reading it and got sealed on the backside as well. This is two really nice plays by defenders that is mitigated by the surrounding unit and allows 6 yards instead of 1-2.
Cover 1, and a complete coverage bust by Verbitski (S) who allows a free outside release for Tsimis (WR) on his corner route. Cannot allow a free outside release in cover 1 from the slot, need to force to help (deep center safety). Not a ton of pressure but Laviano starts seeing his pocket collapse and may not fully step into his throw here. That lack of a step may push the ball a bit deep as his release point is now in a more upward trajectory. This isn't a great pass, but there is enough air under this that Tsimis needs to adjust to it. It's up in the air a long time and he sticks to his path instead of adjusting to the football until the last second. Hampton (S) should be closer to this football with how much air is under it as well.
Weak I. IZ. Not a lot of push up front.
11 personnel under center. Stretch play and Boggs (CB) is all over it. Whether this is a designed CB blitz or not, I'm not sure. But Boggs reads the play and breaks instantly forward, actually beating the WR trying to crack block. WR (Matthews) needs to be aware of this with stretch to his side and get a piece of the CB to allow this play to bounce. If Boggs can get blocked it should be a big gain.
RT gets his feet tied and Hogan (DE) is in the backfield quick. Rescigno (QB) forces a throw into double coverage.
11 personnel with 3 to the field. Basic Yogi concept, and Retting (QB) is comfortable reading that flat defender. Russell (ILB) never keys the TE (Flanagan) or identifies him, he's just dropping straight back with eyes on QB. This doesn't allow him to actually cover a man, and so when the TE breaks, he's wide, wide open again. I like Flanagan pretty well though, looks comfortable catching the ball, and while he isn't a great athlete, he's good enough to chew up some yards after the catch. I would run trips sets almost every down against these guys, you're going to force the ILB into coverage and the underneath coverage can be exposed and alerts hit once the CBs start cheating up.
PA, ILB either sucked up from it or still don't identify receiver. Here, Flanagan (TE) can cross the field on a drag route and the farside ILB never identifies him at all. CB is run off deep, so TE is wide open in the flat. Think the OLB (Carter) to that side has flat responsibility. He gets sucked way up and then kind of chops his feet as if dropping, instead of turning and running and getting to his spot or finding a man running into his spot. Need to be more athletic, just looks very stiff in coverage and uncomfortable.
Nice job by Wilkins (NT) to get low and fire into the backfield, almost tripping up Martin (RB) by his feet on stretch the opposite direction.
Fly route. Retting (QB) lets it rip. Long wind up, trying to put a lot into it. Can't be accurate with it.
Drop by Patton (WR) on the dig.
\TO on downs
Really poor throw by Rescigno. Cover 2, throws the out right into the CB sitting in the flat. Could have been an INT if the CB had a better break, could have been a completion if he reads it correctly and throws the receiver to sit.
Poor throw by Rescigno on the fade. Tries to put a lot of muscle on it, no air, inaccurate. Not a good throw.
Poor coverage by the ILBs, and Matthews (WR) can get open on the deep dig pattern. Johnson (ILB) gets carries off by the TE crossing first, though he never properly walls off the TE and instead allows him to run completely clean down the field until he's forced to turn and run with him. Pass him on and cover the next guy into your zone. It's about eye discipline.
Matthews does a good job coming back to the ball on the hitch. Nice job hands catching, so he can catch it cleanly and then get some YAC.
"3T swung the center" you can hear Flood saying. Center completely whiffed on his down block and it allowed the backside DE to crash and make a play on what could have been otherwise cut upfield. Nice job by Pinnix=Odrick (DE)
Boss sweep. ILBs sealed inside, Martin nice job just finding space.
Laviano sees Agudosi win cleanly and have 2 steps on Austin (CB) but way under throws him. But he did at least put enough air under the ball to draw a PI. Would like to see Austin get his head turned here and make a play on the ball.
Counter F, nice pull block as the problem on the first Counter F is corrected. Now the FB can lead through the hole and hit the next guy. Martin (RB) reads it well and cuts it inside. 3 defenders completely pulled out of the play by counter action alone including a safety, which can't happen. LT (Lumpkin) and LG destroy whoever is playing DE (Wiafe I think) here, washing him all the way back to the backside LB. Martin doesn't protect the ball and gets the ball punched from behind inside the 10 yard line. Big play by Austin (CB).
I'm stopping at the punt catching competition, thoguh I appreciate giving the OL/DL a try at it.