Rutgers blocks two kicks, leads nation with 37 since ‘09
The Rutgers football team’s defense succeeded in some aspects of the game Saturday against Howard, getting to the quarterback and forcing him out of the pocket, but also surrendered an unexpected 25 points on 427 total yards to the FCS school.
Head coach Kyle Flood said that the Scarlet Knights’ defense wasn’t disappointing, but admitted things need to improve both schematically and personnel-wise.
“I think we have got some room for improvement, there’s no doubt about that. There are things we can do better,” Flood said. “Is it scheme things we can do better, is it putting players in the right position, or do we have some players that maybe need to be playing more than some others right now? Those are all things we’ll have to look at the film and decide.”
The Knights were effective when pass rushing Howard quarterback Greg McGhee and forcing him to scramble. Rutgers defense had five sacks along with four quarterback hurries.
Senior defensive end David Milewski had six total tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack. Milewski said there has been improvement in defensive line’s pass rush.
“You just have to try to get off the ball quickly. I got a good pass set early on, and I was able to read it quickly. I had a good move and got to the quarterback,” Milweski said. “That’s the kind of things we are trying to do. I think last year we had a harder time with the inexperience on the [defensive line], but everybody has played now, so I think its going to help our pass rush going forward.”
The Knights blocked two kicks on special teams.
A blocked field goal in the second quarter by redshirt freshman defensive end Kemoko Turay and a blocked punt in the third quarter by sophomore defensive back Nadir Barnwell gave Rutgers its first multiple-block game since 2012 against Army.
The 37 blocks by the Rutgers special teams unit since 2009 leads the nation.
Barnwell said it was a matter of the protection they saw on film and a mix with their technique.
“Those blocks just come from executing. Special teams is a big part of our game and we focus a lot on that,” Barnwell said. “We had a lot of blocks last year and we knew we could get one with their protection. We just focused and we executed.”
Junior placekicker Kyle Federico has now made 11 of his last 14 field goals tries dating back to last season.
Federico split a pair of attempts against Howard, converting a 42-yard field goal and missing on a 36-yard attempt.
But while Federico has become more consistent as a placekicker, he was inconsistent against the Bison on kickoffs. Federico was flagged on two separate occasions after kicking the ball out of bounds on the left sidelines.
Despite the disappointment to some aspects of his performance on Saturday, Federico still feels he has the assurance of Flood with his kicks.
“Coach Flood has the confidence in me. He just tells me to kick it how I kick it and that’s exactly what I did,” Federico said. “I think sometimes just on kickoffs you get a little too much adrenaline and try to kick the ball too hard.”
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