Coaching calls cause for concern
Rutgers disposed of the University of Maryland last weekend to the tune of a 34-13 victory, and it only looks to get easier as the homecoming celebration will be bolstered by the likely drubbing of Texas Southern next on the agenda. Joe Martinek went "Hulkamania" and ran wild on the Terrapins' defense while their quarterback Chris Turner put up one awful performance. Despite the ample yardage the turnovers just would not stop. On paper it looks like all is finally turning out well in the land of the Scarlet Knights.
Playing awful team after awful team will do that for a school, though few are giving respect to many people's preseason Big East title favorites. By watching the games, one can figure out just why nobody else takes this team seriously after the beat down laid by Cincinnati in week one. The in-game coaching is the real reason for this. Despite better recruiting classes year after year, the team does not seem to be getting any better. Back to back 7-5 seasons followed the miraculous 2006 year, but these recruits do not seem to be reaching their potential. Whether it be starting players they are loyal to for too long, keeping poorly performing plays in the playbook or micromanaging the game, it's almost as if they cannot stay out of their own way.
Kordell Young managed to play in eight games last year and be the feature back and starter in most despite a mediocre 3.9 rushing average — mediocre even by NFL standards for starting, shifty running backs. But the coaching staff kept on throwing him out there and giving him over 20 carries nearly every game he played despite Jourdan Brooks's over five yard average and what Joe Martinek had done in a reserve role. While he put up somewhat respectable outings in the beginning of the season, his performance only kept deteriorating, but he was still trotted out. Sure, at one point he was supposed to follow Ray Rice, but ever since he blew out his knee in 2007 he clearly was not the same player, and everyone caught on before the offensive coaches. He exploded against Syracuse, but eight teams in 2008 went for over 200 yards rushing on the Orange, so that was not that great of a feat.
Once and a while their stubborn nature can help, as with Mike Teel in 2007 and 2008, as calls for such backups as Jabu Lovelace, Chris Paul-Etienne and Dom Natale ensued. But Greg Schiano's faith in Teel eventually paid off, as he had a great final six games and the backups have exhibited, combined, nothing so far. While their patience with Teel has paid off, for some reason no rational human being can figure out they have never ending belief that Lovelace is worthy of getting ample snaps.
Possibly the most predictable players in college football, his performance against a bad FIU team notwithstanding, they just keep throwing him out there to either run straight or, if they are feeling zesty, to run … slightly to the right. He showed against Pitt in 2007 that he has absolutely no potential to be an every down player and the "Jabu Package" seems like they are just giving up a down — there's no difference between this and the victory formation, a loss of one yard. It can work against teams like FIU and Maryland, but against the big boys he ain't goin' nowhere. He is a career 27.6 percent passer, leaving little threat of airing it out, and while a four yard average is respectable, as the season goes on more and more teams know exactly what is coming, making the formation become less useful as the season goes on. Yet the media is too busy with the pro football teams to focus on RU, so little media pressure is put on the team and coaches.
But this year brings a new confounding wrinkle into the RU offense. They seem to make the quarterbacks look at the sidelines to call the play after they have already lined up. Why? Who knows. Does it serve a purpose? No, it just makes the coaches that seemed laid back before seem like micromanagers, not picking a play until they see the defense. Does anybody else in organized football do this? I am sure that someone somewhere does this, though they have probably abandoned it. Once and a while, quarterbacks will look to their leaders for guidance, but when they do it on every single play it gets a little ridiculous. If you line up with 20 seconds left on the play clock and just look at the coaches, the advantage is wasted as the defense can anticipate the snap knowing the ball will not be snapped until the end of the clock.
If we as fans can see all the questionable decisions by University coaching staff, what are superior coaches like Brian Kelly of Cincinnati thinking? You almost have to think that they are eventually going to snap the ball right when they get to the line to fool the defense, but this has yet to happen. At least with their unorthodox kicking formation they have run a few trick plays out of it and let us know that Shamar Graves has no future as a quarterback. Just let them play.
Matthew Torino is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science.