Knights get past frustration after loss to UConn
The Rutgers football team still has a good mood, oddly enough.
“I thought the mood of the team was good, and it’s not — when I say good, I don’t mean happy,” said head coach Kyle Flood of Sunday’s team meetings. “There’s not a lot of happiness when you’re 56, but I see a lot of determination in their eyes and a lot of anxiousness to get back to work to be 10.”
Senior defensive tackle Isaac Holmes felt a different good mood earlier this season.
It approached invulnerability.
“This season was so promising. We were 4-1 at one point. I didn’t think we could be stopped,” Holmes said. “As things spiraled down into the wrong path, I stayed positive, stayed on top of guys to try to get things turned around.”
Several Scarlet Knights said the meetings were very business-like a day after giving Connecticut its second victory.
But this week the Knights deal with potentially ending 21 seniors’ careers with losing six of seven and no bowl appearance.
Rutgers’ fortunes were similar in 2010, when the Knights finished 4-8 and lost six straight after Eric LeGrand’s paralyzing injury.
Fortunately for Rutgers, nothing as bad as that incident occurred this year. That means the Knights feel not quite as demoralized, Holmes said.
“That was a tragedy that happened in 2010, losing a guy like that,” he said. “This year, it’s a whole different animal. These are different problems that the team is facing. You can’t really compare the two.”
But no simple remedy is available for Rutgers’ offense or defense. The defense especially carries some issues that began in its season opener against Fresno State.
Those defensive issues include tackling problems and guarding spread defenses that isolate linebackers and inexperienced cornerbacks into one-on-ones.
Holmes thought for a few seconds about how Rutgers could fix defensive issues that began in the season opener.
“I really don’t even have an answer for that,” Holmes said. “I guess whatever we do in practice, we can fix little small details that are going on. It’ll probably be little things here and there, but I don’t see it being anything that can’t be fixed.”
Rutgers’ offense, meanwhile, trailed off from early-season success. The Knights scored at least 28 in each of their first five games.
Rutgers scored 17 in each of the last three games — some were garbage points when opponents prioritized clock expiration. It does not help that Rutgers holds no obvious quarterback solution.
Junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman — possibly playing his last collegiate game if he declares for this year’s NFL Draft — sees where Rutgers’ offense falls short.
“I feel like we practice and prepare well throughout the week to give us a chance to execute and be successful during the game,” Coleman said. “But when the game comes, it doesn’t play out the way we plan it to. We have to do a better job of playing in the moment.”
Yesterday’s depth chart listed redshirt freshman Ruhann Peele as backup after he started at cornerback the last two games.
The two-deep included junior Gareef Glashen and freshman Anthony Cioffi as starting cornerbacks.
Peele played slot receiver for most of the UConn game to aid the struggling offense.
“He will play both ways [against USF],” Flood said. “We have not completely finalized the plan. We’ll do that a little bit later today and tomorrow in terms of what his role will be.”