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1. So ... where's this going?
About nine years ago, Rutgers appeared in its first bowl in 27 years and only its second ever.
Greg Schiano's reputation has had its ups and downs since, but in 2005, the former Miami defensive coordinator became Rutgers' savior. After the program won 11 games in the five-year Terry Shea era (five of which came in one season), Schiano took over at age 35 and went 3-20 in his first two years.
But the Scarlet Knights won nine games over the next two, and in year 5 came the breakthrough. The next year, Rutgers won 11 games and finished 12th in the AP poll.
For most programs, we have a level of reasonable goals in our heads. They can change over time -- our estimation of what Kansas State might be capable of, for instance, has changed drastically over the last three decades -- but we have an idea.
Some teams should be happy with bowl bids. Others should aim for the occasional division title. Others feel like failures for winning fewer than 10 games.
For Rutgers, expectations have changed, but it's hard to figure out where the bar is at this point. The Scarlet Knights have been to nine bowls in 10 seasons and have won nine or more games four times, and their success (and strategic location) earned them a spot in a bigger conference.
And in their first season in the Big Ten, they treaded water, finishing a decent 8-5 (3-5 in conference) with a win over Michigan and a bowl romp over North Carolina. But they got obliterated in every battle versus a good team and finished 81st in the F/+ rankings.
After ranking 41st or better in four of six seasons, they haven't ranked better than 58th in the three years since Schiano left for an NFL job. They're still winning, and they certainly boast a rather athletic team. But recruiting, thought to be a Kyle Flood specialty, hasn't surged, and the general feeling around the fanbase is one of restlessness. (That hasn't been aided by woeful public relations.)
A local fanbase might not be the most reliable barometer for reasonable expectations, but ... what exactly should we be expecting from Rutgers?
I'm not sure what a fair ceiling is, but I do know stability would be nice. In just the three-year Flood era, Rutgers' offense has ranked as high as 56th in Off. S&P+ (2014) and as low as 119th (2012), and the defense has ranked as high as 13th (2012) and as low as 86th (2014). Combine the two best units, and you've got a top-20 team. Combine the two worst, and you've got a bottom-20 team.
Consistency and an identity would be welcome, but that might be difficult. After last year's offensive success, the quarterback and three linemen left and the coordinator stepped down. The defense could get a little nastier, but it might happen just in time for the offense to regress.
We're not so far removed from Rutgers' destitution to know that going to a bowl every year and holding your own against college football's second tier is nothing to sneeze at. But dissatisfaction is understandable, and if the offense slides, the negative buzz could pick up more volume.
2014 Schedule & Results
|Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 7-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 81|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|28-Aug||at Washington State||77||41-38||W||55%||2.7||65%|
|18-Oct||at Ohio State||1||17-56||L||14%||-25.0||0%|
|22-Nov||at Michigan State||11||3-45||L||6%||-36.9||0%|
|26-Dec||vs. North Carolina||70||40-21||W||85%||24.0||99%|
|Points Per Game||26.7||83||30.2||89|
2. Stumbling in the spotlight
Percentile numbers like those above usually send me looking for trends. With only 12-14 data points, you can identify any trend you want if you try hard enough, but you can often find a narrative worth pursuing.
With the data above, you can point to a season that started well, cratered in the middle, and finished reasonably well.
- Average Percentile Performance (first 5 games): 67% (record: 4-1)
- Average Percentile Performance (next 4 games): 21% (record: 1-3)
- Average Percentile Performance (first 5 games): 56% (record: 3-1)
Rutgers began 5-1, with only a tossup loss to Penn State marring a perfect start. But the Knights proceeded to lose four of their next five before rebounding with a crazy comeback against Maryland and the UNC romp. That makes for a fine story line.
But it's hard to notice a trend among the four eggs Rutgers laid in October and November.
- Average Percentile Performance (vs. F/+ top 30): 11% (record: 0-4 | avg. score: Opp 45, RU 11)
- Average Percentile Performance (vs. everyone else): 67% (record: 8-1 | avg. score: RU 34, Opp 22)
For perspective, the 67th percentile represents a performance on the border of the top 40. Not bad! The 11th percentile would constitute a ranking between about 110th and 115th. Against the four top-30 teams on the schedule, Rutgers played like Idaho; against everybody else, the Scarlet Knights were more like West Virginia.
The 2013 season told a similar tale; Rutgers played four BCS-level teams that won at least nine games and lost by an average of 22 points. Against everybody else: 6-3 with a plus-4.9 scoring margin.
If you're looking for another reason why Rutgers fans seem frustrated, that's a good one. When the biggest spotlight has shined, Rutgers has played its worst football. This hasn't always been the case -- in Flood's first season in 2012, Rutgers beat 10-win Cincinnati and barely lost to 11-win Louisville -- but it isn't a positive development.
The 2015 schedule features four teams that finished in last year's top 30 (including both Big Ten title game participants and Michigan State), which is either a reason for dread or an opportunity for redemption.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.0%||44||Succ. Rt. +||111.7||32|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||32.3||114||Def. FP+||98.0||92|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.5||62||Redzone S&P+||114.2||29|
|Q1 Rk||54||1st Down Rk||52|
|Q2 Rk||21||2nd Down Rk||61|
|Q3 Rk||42||3rd Down Rk||35|
3. Big play-calling shoes to fill
Ralph Friedgen's coaching career began when he took a graduate assistant position at Maryland in 1969, a year after his career as a Maryland guard ended. He was Maryland's offensive coordinator from 1982-86, then came back as Maryland's head coach from 2001-10. He was fired after 2010, and it looked like his career had come to an end as he approached age 64.
He had one final act. Flood lured him out of his forced retirement. It was perhaps Flood's most important recruiting win. Friedgen brought efficiency; Rutgers improved from 101st in Success Rate+ to 32nd and sacrificed little explosiveness in the process.
Quarterback Gary Nova's numbers improved across the board despite an upgrade in competition: his per-attempt yardage went from 6.1 to 7.9, his completion rate from 54.5 percent to 57.2 percent, his sack rate from 7.6 percent to 5.2, and his interception rate from 4.6 percent to 3.7. He developed a fun rapport with star receiver Leonte Carroo, and despite a revolving door at running back, Rutgers' offense looked magnificent at times.
At 67, Friedgen decided that "getting up at 4:30 every morning and working 18 hours a day for 15 weeks of the year" was a bit too much. Flood convinced him to stay as a "special assistant," but receivers coach Ben McDaniels will now be running the show.
McDaniels would be well-advised not to change much, unless his quarterback situation forces him to.
Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Chris Laviano||6'3, 210||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8597||11||28||107||0||1||39.3%||1||3.4%||3.3|
|Hayden Rettig||6'3, 205||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9312|
|Giovanni Rescigno||6'3, 240||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7985|
|Michael Dare||6'5, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8584|
4. Got a quarterback?
In 2009, I wrote this about Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel in the Football Outsiders Almanac: "As alcohol is to Homer Simpson, Teel was the cause of and solution to most of Rutgers' problems."
He was also the last Rutgers quarterback to play well until Nova's 2014. Between 2010-13, RU quarterbacks -- Tom Savage, then Chas Dodd, then Nova -- failed to produce even a 130 passer rating. Savage managed a 128.8 in 2009, then crumbled and transferred. Dodd hit 126.8 as a freshman, then got replaced by Nova, who hit 125.8 in 2012.
Nova's 2014 rating: 145.3. Under Friedgen, and with Carroo living up to potential, Rutgers improved from 84th in Passing S&P+ to 15th.
So now the reins go to any of three youngsters: last year's backup Chris Laviano, LSU transfer Hayden Rettig, or redshirt freshman Giovanni Rescigno. (Incoming freshman Michael Dare was well-touted, and lord knows Rutgers has played freshman QBs, but we'll assume he's a longshot, if only because he needs to put on about 20 pounds before facing Joey Bosa.) Rettig was a blue-chipper in high school, Laviano looked pretty good in the spring, and Rescigno passes the eyeball test.
Whoever wins the job (and my guess is Laviano) will have to clear a high bar if Rutgers is to avoid offensive regression. And he'll be protected by a line that must replace three players who had combined for 112 career starts. Two two-year starters (tackle Keith Lumpkin, guard Chris Muller) return, and there is a nice mix of experience and high recruiting in the pipeline, but treading water is the best-case scenario.
Then again, the skill position players might have something to say about that.
|Desmon Peoples||RB||5'8, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8591||115||447||3||3.9||3.1||33.9%||1||0|
|Robert Martin||RB||6'0, 200||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8681||87||434||7||5.0||4.3||37.9%||1||1|
|Justin Goodwin||RB||6'0, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8303||83||328||1||4.0||3.6||36.1%||1||1|
|Josh Hicks||RB||5'10, 205||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8625||71||438||2||6.2||6.2||45.1%||1||0|
|Paul James||RB||6'0, 205||Sr.||NR||NR||64||363||5||5.7||4.8||46.9%||3||2|
|Chris Laviano||QB||6'3, 210||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8597||6||81||0||13.5||9.3||83.3%||0||0|
|Janarion Grant||WR||5'11, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||6||48||0||8.0||7.3||66.7%||1||1|
|Charles Snorweah||RB||5'10, 175||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8336|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Leonte Carroo||WR||6'1, 205||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9182||94||55||1086||58.5%||27.8%||59.6%||11.6||409||11.6||183.8|
|Janarion Grant||WR||5'11, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||45||25||312||55.6%||13.3%||53.3%||6.9||1||6.5||52.8|
|Andre Patton||WR||6'4, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8494||42||20||223||47.6%||12.4%||59.5%||5.3||-35||5.3||37.8|
|John Tsimis||WR||6'0, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8377||33||19||188||57.6%||9.8%||51.5%||5.7||-47||6.1||31.9|
|Desmon Peoples||RB||5'8, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8591||11||8||132||72.7%||3.3%||36.4%||12.0||37||11.7||22.4|
|Justin Goodwin||RB||6'0, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8303||9||9||57||100.0%||2.7%||11.1%||6.3||-44||5.1||9.6|
|Paul James||RB||6'0, 205||Sr.||NR||NR||7||4||120||57.1%||2.1%||28.6%||17.1||71||16.5||20.3|
|Carlton Agudosi||WR||6'6, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8317||6||5||32||83.3%||1.8%||66.7%||5.3||-26||5.1||5.4|
|Nick Arcidiacono||TE||6'5, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8330||4||1||11||25.0%||1.2%||75.0%||2.8||-5||2.1||1.9|
|Robert Martin||RB||6'0, 200||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8681||2||2||25||100.0%||0.6%||50.0%||12.5||2||11.2||4.2|
|Ruhann Peele||WR||6'1, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8734|
|Logan Lister||TE||6'5, 245||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8220|
|Nakia Griffin||TE||6'5, 220||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8385|
|Anthony Folkerts||TE||6'4, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8342|
|Rashad Blunt||WR||6'2, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8185|
5. Toys in the toy box
Carroo hinted at a high ceiling in 2013, averaging 17.1 yards per catch and scoring nine touchdowns for an offense in desperate need of positivity. And in 2014, he eased seamlessly into the No. 1 role, doubling his catches and averaging an eye-popping 11.6 yards per target. His sub-60 percent catch rate isn't ideal, but when you average 19.7 yards per catch, you're allowed misses.
When Paul James is healthy, he's one of the nation's more exciting backs. A 205-pounder with open-field explosiveness (6.1 highlight yards per opportunity in 2013), James has averaged 5.7 yards per carry over the past two years, but he suffered a broken fibula in 2013 and tore his ACL four games into 2014.
In James' absence, two freshmen got quite a bit of work; Robert Martin and Josh Hicks combined to average 5.5 yards per carry, and Hicks erupted late: 20 carries for 114 yards against Indiana, 19 for 202 against UNC. (Martin chipped in 19 for 100 against the hapless Tar Heel defense.)
If James is at 100 percent, Rutgers has as high a ceiling at the skill positions as almost anybody in the conference. The big plays should be frequent, but Rutgers' improved efficiency is at risk.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Keith Lumpkin||LT||6'8, 310||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8947||26|
|Chris Muller||RG||6'6, 300||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9164||25|
|Ryan Brodie||RG||6'5, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8879||0|
|Derrick Nelson||C||6'3, 290||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8222||0|
|Dorian Miller||LG||6'3, 285||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8823||0|
|J.J. Denman||RT||6'6, 300||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9002||0|
|Marcus Applefield||RT||6'6, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8377|
|Jacquis Webb||LT||6'5, 310||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8425|
|Tariq Cole||LG||6'6, 350||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8436|
|Zack Heeman||OL||6'7, 270||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8302|
|Jack Shutack||OL||6'6, 270||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8439|
|Zach Venesky||OL||6'2, 285||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8438|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||42.1%||77||Succ. Rt. +||103.9||50|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||30.2||69||Off. FP+||101.0||51|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.5||76||Redzone S&P+||106.3||43|
|Q1 Rk||46||1st Down Rk||92|
|Q2 Rk||116||2nd Down Rk||70|
|Q3 Rk||66||3rd Down Rk||119|
6. Remember when Rutgers' defense was awesome?
In 2012, Rutgers allowed 4.6 yards per play and gave up more than 15 points four times in 13 games. The Scarlet Knights continued the standard set by Schiano's best defenses.
In 2013, Rutgers fell from 13th in Def. S&P+ to 80th. A young secondary suffered breakdowns. In 2014, the Knights fell to 86th, with a defense that allowed 100 rushes of 10-plus yards (124th in the country).
Rutgers has wanted to remain aggressive. But if you're going to give up tons of big plays, you better have an efficiency ranking in the 20s, not the 50s. That balance has disintegrated.
Joe Rossi's first year as Rutgers coordinator was a learning experience; as constructed, RU has sacrificed size to get speed on the field, and while that helped to create a nice pass rush, it created disadvantages against the run.
It also potentially contributed to a disturbing trend: Rutgers tended to collapse as a half unfolded. RU ranked 46th and 66th in first- and third-quarter S&P+ but crumbled to 116th and 87th in the second and fourth quarters.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Kemoko Turay||DE||6'6, 235||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8085||13||20.5||2.8%||8.5||7.5||0||1||0||0|
|Darius Hamilton||DT||6'4, 255||Sr.||5 stars (6.1)||0.9881||13||38.5||5.3%||11.5||6.0||0||0||1||0|
|Djwany Mera||DE||6'4, 260||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8778||13||14.5||2.0%||2.5||1.5||0||1||0||0|
|Julian Pinnix-Odrick||DT||6'5, 260||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8748||12||12.5||1.7%||2.0||2.0||0||0||1||0|
|Quanzell Lambert||DE||6'1, 250||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9039||13||7.0||1.0%||1.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Sebastian Joseph||NT||6'4, 285||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8131||13||1.5||0.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Myles Nash||DE||6'5, 225||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8622||8||1.5||0.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kevin Wilkins||NT||6'3, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8344|
|Eric Wiafe||DL||6'5, 270||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8208|
|Donald Bedell||DE||6'4, 235||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8073|
|Jimmy Hogan||DE||6'4, 225||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8224|
|Jon Bateky||DE||6'4, 245||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8296|
|Marques Ford||DE||6'4, 230||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9008|
|Kamaal Seymour||DT||6'6, 290||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8392|
7. Size matters?
Rutgers has its share of talent. Darius Hamilton hasn't played like the five-star he was in high school, but he's been a four-star, at least. Kemoko Turay came out of nowhere to serve as one of the better pass-rush specialists in the Eastern time zone. Linebacker Quentin Gause was able to slice into the backfield and make some plays against the run.
The problem was twofold: 1) You could add "... despite being undersized" to the end of each of those sentences, and 2) there wasn't much size elsewhere. Of the seven returning contributors, the ends average 6'4, 243, and the tackles average 6'4, 267. If you have elite speed at all positions, maybe you can make this work. Rutgers only had good speed. If the Scarlet Knights weren't making a play against the run, they were allowing one.
In terms of pure talent, there's a lot to like. Not only are Turay and Hamilton back, high-upside younger players like Quanzell Lambert, Myles Nash, Kevin Wilkins, and incoming four-star Marques Ford could play a role, and senior Djwany Mera has hinted at upside.
But if size was an issue, then unless every player on the team slaps on 20 pounds while sacrificing no speed, I'm not sure how things will improve much. Rossi might have a better idea of how to compensate for it.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Steve Longa||WLB||6'1, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8655||13||86.5||12.0%||4.5||2.0||0||1||1||1|
|Quentin Gause||SLB||6'1, 220||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8665||13||61.5||8.5%||7.0||1.0||0||1||1||0|
|T.J. Taylor||SLB||6'3, 200||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.7993||13||3.5||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Devan Carter||LB||6'2, 215||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8013|
|Brandon Russell||MLB||6'1, 210||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7919|
|Isaiah Johnson||MLB||6'2, 225||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7923|
|Deonte Roberts||WLB||6'1, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8119|
|Sidney Gopre||LB||6'1, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8660|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Delon Stephenson||FS||5'11, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8222||11||32.0||4.4%||2||0||0||3||0||0|
|Davon Jacobs||SS||6'0, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8696||13||30.0||4.2%||1.5||1.5||1||0||0||0|
|Anthony Cioffi||CB||6'0, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8059||12||28.0||3.9%||2||0||2||2||1||0|
|Nadir Barnwell||CB||5'11, 185||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9140||10||26.0||3.6%||1||0||0||4||0||0|
|Dre Boggs||CB||5'11, 175||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8449||10||14.5||2.0%||0||0||0||4||0||0|
|Andre Hunt||FS||6'0, 190||So.||NR||NR||9||5.0||0.7%||1||1||0||1||0||0|
|Brian Verbitski||CB||6'0, 175||Jr.||NR||NR|
|Saquan Hampton||FS||6'0, 180||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8344|
|Kiy Hester||SS||6'0, 205||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9054|
|Isaiah Wharton||CB||6'1, 200||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7683|
|Darian Dailey||CB||5'11, 175||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7619|
|Blessuan Austin||DB||6'1, 180||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8306|
|Najee Clayton||DB||6'2, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8610|
|Jarius Adams||CB||5'10, 180||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8295|
8. Athletic and green(ish)
The front seven has upside but lacks size. The secondary has upside but lacks experience.
At least, sort of. Rutgers will be forced to replace three starters, including aggressive safeties (Lorenzo Waters and Johnathan Aiken, who combined for eight tackles for loss) and a decent cornerback (Gareef Glashen). That's never a good thing, but at least the backups saw the field. The top four returnees are all juniors who had at least 26 tackles in 2014.
Of course, some younger players could still help. Sophomore Dre Boggs managed to break up four passes while on the field long enough to record only 14.5 tackles (that either means a high ceiling or he's awful at tackling), and four-star redshirt freshman Kiy Hester, originally a Miami signee, had a pretty good spring.
There is reason to fear what might become of the pass defense, but there is talent, and the pass rush will again be strong. If the defense ranks in the 80s, it will be because of the run, not the pass.
|Tim Gleeson||6'2, 195||Sr.||32||40.3||2||6||11||53.1%|
|Joseph Roth||6'0, 175||Sr.||31||36.3||0||9||2||35.5%|
|Kyle Federico||6'0, 190||Sr.||71||58.8||17||3||23.9%|
|Kyle Federico||6'0, 190||Sr.||41-43||11-12||91.7%||5-9||55.6%|
|Janarion Grant||KR||5'11, 175||Jr.||36||25.2||0|
|Josh Hicks||KR||5'10, 205||So.||9||18.0||0|
|Janarion Grant||PR||5'11, 175||Jr.||6||7.5||0|
|Special Teams F/+||66|
|Field Goal Efficiency||47|
|Punt Return Efficiency||17|
|Kick Return Efficiency||47|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||27|
9. Kick it away from Grant
Good: While Janarion Grant is still figuring out how to make a consistent impact on offense, he is one hell of a return man. The bouncy junior helped Rutgers to return efficiency ratings in the top 20 (punts) and top 50 (kicks), and even when he isn't doing very well, he's a bit of an optical illusion; you're terrified of him until his knee touches the ground.
Bad: Rutgers' coverage units made it seem like opponents also had a Janarion Grant. Rutgers ranked 58th in punt return average allowed and 95th in kick return average allowed. Tim Gleeson (an Aussie and the older brother of Ole Miss' Will) had better averages, but kicked a more returnable ball and was replaced by Joseph Roth. Either could start in 2015, though Gleeson seems to have better upside.
2015 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||2014 F/+ Rk|
|19-Sep||at Penn State||45|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-5.6% (70)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||64 / 48|
|2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-2 / 4.7|
|2014 TO Luck/Game||-2.6|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||11 (6, 5)|
|2014 Second-order wins (difference)||6.5 (1.5)|
10. The top-30 jinx might not be much of an issue
It felt like Rutgers was ranked artificially low last season. For two-thirds of the year, the Scarlet Knights were a borderline top-40 team, but their poor performances, all against very good teams, tore their ranking apart.
On the schedule, there are four more teams that ranked in the F/+ top 30; three visit Piscataway, which offers an opportunity for either a buzz-building upset or another demoralizing blowout. But if Rutgers plays at the same level against teams below the 75th percentile, the Scarlet Knights will likely win enough to bowl once more.
It is justifiable to worry about where this program stands; the strengths, weaknesses, and offensive identity all seem to change each year, and the F/+ ranking has been on the wrong side of 50. It's deal with that without ending up on the wrong side of six wins, too.
Still, Flood has sustained what has easily been Rutgers' most successful decade of football. There's something to be said for that.