Rutgers vs Northwestern: Stock Up, Stock Down
After taking on another loss last weekend on the road, the Rutgers football team will look to get its season back on track as it returns home for a two week stretch.
The Scarlet Knights (1-6, 0-4) will host Northwestern at HighPoint.com Stadium this Saturday for the 85th annual homecoming game. Rutgers is coming off a tough loss to Maryland last weekend, which saw the Knights nearly get shutout for the first time this season before a late touchdown in the final minute of play ended that dream for the Terrapins.
The attitude that Rutgers brings to every game despite its struggles truly shows how a team is built.
With that, here are player stocks coming off last weekend’s loss into Saturday’s homecoming game:
True freshman running back Isaih Pacheco
Pacheco was a work horse for the Knights in the second half last week, taking the opportunity in a game that was out of reach early to show what he can do on a consistent basis on the field. Pacheco ended the game with a career high in three big categories — rushing attempts, rushing yards and touchdowns. He finished the game with 107 yards off 22 attempts, and scored his first career touchdown to end the game.
After being switched over to more of a return specialist in the last few games, Pacheco reinserted himself into the conversation out of the backfield, with his number surely to be called more often as the season winds down.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Mike Tverdov
Starting two of the last three games, Tverdov has been one of the lone bright spots recently for a struggling defensive line unit. He picked up a sack last week against Maryland for the second week in a row, and now leads the team in sacks for the season with three.
He officially marked last week as his best game of the season after forcing a fumble on his sack and recovering the ball himself.
True freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski
Probably the most important stock to review on a weekly basis, this go around, Sitkowski is seeing his stock go down after another interception filled outing. Though he threw three interceptions two weeks ago against Illinois in the blackout game, he still had an impressive showing, throwing 29 completions for 267 yards — both career highs — and threw his third touchdown of the season.
But, that production was nowhere to be found against the Terrapins last week. Sitkowski threw 2-16 (12.5 percent) for just 8 yards. Even worse, he threw four interceptions — a new career high — bringing his interception total to 15 through seven game, which leads the nation.
Sophomore running back Raheem Blackshear
Since his best game of the season against Kansas, when he ran for 102 yards, Blackshear has seen his production gradually go down as the weeks have gone by. Though he is still one of the top weapons for whoever is under center to throw to, Blackshear has been less of a runner in the last few weeks.
Starting from week four, Blackshear’s running numbers have gone from 76 yards to 64 to 36 to 15 yards last weekend. His has also been handed the ball less in general, including two games of less than 10 runs.
Once the go-to guy on the offensive unit, Blackshear’s regression is a showing of graduate student Jonathan Hilliman’s usage on third down and near the goal line, Pacheco’s emergence and the overall bad play of the offense in recent weeks.