Interceptions keep poor Rutgers defense on field against Maryland
The journey to and from College Park, Md. was not a fun one for the Rutgers football team this weekend, as the team fell once again to a Big Ten foe and extended its losing streak to six.
The Scarlet Knights (1-6, 0-4) suffered another blowout loss to Maryland (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday, in one of the worst displays of passing offense a team could have. Rutgers nearly beat its lowest passing yards in a game record set back in 2016 against Michigan, when the team threw for just 5 yards, but the Knights managed to put up 8 yards in this one to keep that record safe.
Rutgers now returns to HighPoint.com Stadium for next weekend’s homecoming game against Northwestern with many questions to answer. All aspects of the team need to be addressed as the toughest part of the Knights’ schedule approaches — they will face four teams who are currently in the top-25 rankings this season every weekend of November.
Here are three takeaways from the loss in College Park:
Pick party hosted by Rutgers
A theme is emerging for starting true freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski this season, and it’s not a very good one. Sitkowski threw at least three interceptions in a game for the fourth time this season on Saturday, and actually added another one to total four on the day — a career high for interceptions. His touchdown to interception ratio has now ballooned to a paltry 3 scores versus 15 picks. He leads the country in interceptions as well, with second place in a five-way tie with eight picks, a disturbing stat to think about for someone in his first season on a college football field.
Fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno came in for Sitkowski after the fourth interception, but was mostly just in as a place holder at the position, with the Knights running the ball on nearly every play from then until the end of the game. But, Rescigno did get to make one throw on the day, which was intercepted as well, giving the Terrapins five on the day — their most in a game since 1998, when they picked off Duke seven times.
Between Sitkowski and Rescigno, the passing numbers on the day ended at 2-17 for 8 yards and five interceptions.
Defense stays back in Piscataway
Maryland certainly had itself a day on offense against Rutgers, but that’s because it seemed like the Knights left their defense back home in New Jersey. The Terrapins put up 375 yards of offense on the day compared to 179 from Rutgers, and although 375 doesn’t seem too bad, it’s the way Maryland operated that hurts the most.
Quarterback Kasim Hill needed to make just eight complete passes for 76 yards on the day to amass 3 touchdowns. On the other end, the Terrapins got the ball down the field a majority of the time on the ground. Of their 375 yards of offense, 290 were rushing yards. Running back Ty Johnson led the way for Maryland, running for 132 yards and a 65-yard touchdown that opened the game up at the end of the first quarter. Johnson only ran the ball nine times Saturday, putting his average yards per carry at 14.7. Overall, the Terrapins had 10 players run for positive yards.
Pacheco gets his shot
Despite his team's struggles, freshman running back Isaih Pacheco used the opportunity given to him by his coaches to have a career day on Saturday. Pacheco turned into the main workhorse for the Knights once it was clear the game was out of reach, but he proceeded to go to work. Pacheco rushed the ball 22 times on the day, finishing with 107 yards — the first triple digit running game of his career. Additionally, Pacheco scored Rutgers’ lone points of the day in the final minute of play, running in his 1st touchdown as a Division I athlete.
This was certainly a different look for Pacheco in recent weeks, who seemed to have fallen out of the running back rotation a bit compared to the first couple weeks of the season, and instead became more of a return specialist for the Knights — Pacheco did return two kicks on Saturday as well, accumulating 52 yards.