Rutgers suffers blowout loss at hands of Ohio State once again
Head coach Chris Ash said earlier in the week that this week’s game against Ohio State would be a good measuring stick to see where his Rutgers football team ranked.
But after a 52-3 drubbing to the No. 4 Buckeyes (2-0, 1-0) in Columbus, Ohio, it’s pretty clear there is still a long way to go if the Scarlet Knights (1-1, 0-1) ever want to be in the same discussion as Ohio State.
“When you play teams like this especially on the road, your margin of error is very, very small,” Ash said. “We made a lot of mistakes, they took advantage of those mistakes, capitalized on them and you just can’t do that against good teams. It was disappointing, you know we were hoping that we could come and play a better football game. We didn’t.”
He’s right. From the very beginning, the game seemed to speed up on Rutgers as it could never find its footing — literally. Sophomore running back Raheem Blackshear couldn’t find any space in the interior and the Knights were limited to quick three and outs, exemplified by a 28 second three and out drive in the first quarter.
In fact, Rutgers only had one first down well within the second quarter and finished with only 12 compared to the Buckeyes’ 32.
The lack of any running game whatsoever forced true freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski to air it out early in his first college game on the road in front of 93,057 fans at Ohio Stadium, which ended prematurely.
Right before the half, Sitkowski got drilled for the sack and was slow to get up. He went into the locker room holding his right arm and did not return to action for the rest of the day.
“I wish I would’ve taken a time out,” Ash said, referring to the play just before Sitkowski got injured.
But according to one of Sitkowski’s teammates, it was his fault his quarterback came up a little limp.
“Art got hurt, it was completely my fault, I take full responsibility for it …” said redshirt senior offensive lineman and captain Tariq Cole. “... stuff like that shouldn’t happen around me.”
Sitkowski will be reevaluated this week but told his teammates and his coaches he was fine. He finished 6-18 for 38 yards and an interception — a stark drop-off from his debut.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes seemed to have no problems airing it out, connecting on 4 touchdown passes in the first half alone, two of which came via deep balls, making Rutgers’ secondary look foolish and more importantly, vulnerable.
“I don’t care if you have a freshman or seniors at cornerback, they are a good football team,” Ash said. “Top to bottom they are one of the best teams in the country … When you can’t generate a pass rush, it’s going to be really hard to play good pass defense and then when you make some mistakes in coverage on top of that, it makes it even worse.”
With Sitkowski out, fifth year senior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno entered the game after the half but didn’t fare any better against Ohio State’s punishing defense.
Overall, Rescigno went 5-12 for 27 passing yards and an interception, although his 15 yard run in the third quarter did help the Knights get into field goal range where sophomore kicker Justin Davidovicz made the field goal, getting Rutgers on the board against the Buckeyes for the first time in three years.
“I try to prepare as if I am the starter so when this opportunity does come or when there is a situation like this I am prepared,” Rescigno said. “It’s not just for me, but it’s for the team because it’s not fair to the team if I’m not prepared to go in.”
Clearly, the Knights weren’t ready enough as Ohio State trounced them in almost every statistical category including total yards (579 to 134), third down conversion rate (64 percent to 27 percent) and turnovers (0 to 2).
But despite the inefficiencies on offense, Ash is confident in his quarterbacks.
“I’m pleased with the overall quarterback position,” he said. “This was a big game for Art to go on the road and play in and we’ll evaluate the tape and see how he did but we always know that Gio is there.”
Rutgers will now go back to the drawing board, see what mistakes the team made and how to fix them before going on the road again to face Kansas.
“No game is guaranteed in this league. This is Division I football. Any given Saturday, anybody can win… Our preparation needs to be 100 times better this week,” Cole said.
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