Kyle Bolin's struggles mask his value to team
A brief look at Kyle Bolin's stats this season would suggest the Louisville graduate transfer has been a disappointment for Rutgers. But the stats don't tell the story, as Bolin has been — and will continue to be — one of the most important players on the team.
Make no mistake, true freshman Johnathan Lewis is the future of the program. But he is not ready to be a full-time starter.
Bolin, on the other hand, was voted as a captain by his teammates after just a few months of being on campus. He has already developed a strong chemistry with his teammates and is a leader in the locker room and on the field. The value he brings to the team as a leader and as a facilitator at the line of scrimmage cannot be understated.
"It's (an) honor to be named a captain and to be looked upon as a leader by your teammates," Bolin said of wearing a "C" for captain on his jersey. "Having that 'C' represents what you've done in your offseason to prepare."
Against then-No. 8 Washington in the season opener in primetime, Bolin marched the Knights right down the field and threw a beautifully placed ball to Janarion Grant for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. He showed that he could put together a legitimate scoring drive against a power-five team, something that the Rutgers quarterbacks simply could not do last season.
Bolin would struggle for just about the rest of the game, but in the fourth quarter, found sophomore receiver Dacoven Bailey for a touchdown on fourth down, his second touchdown pass against a very strong Washington secondary.
The next game against Eastern Michigan, Bolin struggled a lot. He threw a crucial interception in the fourth quarter on a potential game-winning drive that just about sealed the win for the Eagles. It was a bad mistake and there is no way around that.
But he bounced back against Morgan State and played a clean game, marching the offense up and down the field, then made way for Lewis to score touchdowns. While the freshman got all the glory, Bolin put him in those positions with his ability to move the team into the red zone.
Against Nebraska, it was an eerily similar start to the Washington game, with Bolin leading the team to a touchdown on the first drive of the game. Except Bolin was much better, making just about every throw possible and stretched the field with multiple passes beyond the first down sticks. The same thing would happen, as the Knights' offense went stagnant for the rest of the game, as the other touchdown was scored by the defense and the field goal was a result of great field position on an interception.
"We come out energized," Bolin said of the offense's fast starts. "We come out on fire and ready to go. And I think sometimes as an offense we kind of take a step back and not play with as much confidence as we did in the beginning."
Those fast starts followed by an inability to move the offense later in the game have been the biggest thing holding back Rutgers this year, but if Bolin can create more offensive consistency, he will prove that he belongs as the starting quarterback.
"We just got to come out every single drive like it's our first drive and make sure that were locked in and playing to our full potential," Bolin said.