This season has been pivotal for the future of what the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-6, 3-6) football represents and is viewed as. Some consider Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano's efforts exceptional, however the season finale didn’t display that. In fact, it appeared the Scarlet Knights didn’t come prepared to play as they allowed four early first-quarter touchdowns to the Maryland Terrapins (7-5, 4-5). Although they managed to only give up two more touchdowns for the remainder of the game, it wasn’t enough to sustain a win at in season final at home. The Terrapins cruised past the Scarlet Knights, 42-24.
"That's what's sad for me. I really wanted them to be able to sing with their teammates on the field and as winners in their last home game. We had a pretty good home season,” Schiano explained what this year's seniors meant to him.
“It's fun to win at home, right? The fans love it and we had a great turnout today (47,012 in attendance), for a holiday weekend, I thought the student section was outstanding, for a break. Kids aren't even in school. But that's what hurts the most is those seniors don't get to that have memory of their last win being their last game in SHI Stadium,” he continues.
Positives Takeaways for the Scarlet Knights
Despite the tough loss, the Scarlet Knights managed to leave the game with several positives as they continued to prove they’re becoming legitimate in the Big Ten. Prior to this season, the Scarlet Knights were deemed as the “joke” of the Big Ten, however key pieces to this roster will help change this narrative for good. One of those standouts is the Big Ten's leading rusher junior running back Kyle Monangai, who finished the game with 20 carries for 118 yards. He’s the only player in the conference so far to rush for 1,000 yards as Monangai also became the eighth player in program history to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground in one season.
“Kyle, I've said it before, he had a great season. What did he have today, he had over a hundred today,” Schiano stated. “He had a good season. … When you have one of your hardest workers, one of your profitability productive players, it's great as a head coach because you can point to that. He is a leader on the team and he is fully invested in everything we're doing. It's huge for the program's development.”
“Yes, the production is huge, but internally, the building of the culture and the continual development of the culture, guys like him and a bunch of others are what allow us to do that,” he continues.
Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt has been a key component of this Rutgers' offense and has continued to develop as the season progressed. In big games, he may not have played on an elite level, however he’s shown promise that can he contribute to winning games and being a factor defenses have to be concerned about. Saturday evening, Wimsatt threw for a 165 yards and touchdown and rushed for 48 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns as well.
Outside of the first quarter, the defense was electric and helped keep Rutgers in this game. Scarlet Knight defensive back Max Melton intercepted (his third of the season) a key pass to swing momentum along with numerous players on the defense contributing.
“Yeah, the defense, there's a little kind of like chipping away,” Schiano emphasized. “Like we lose Reem, who is just an absolute one of our best players on the team, Tyreem Powell. And then we have some guys that are out there playing, like seniors, Mayan Ahanotu wanting to play his last game, really hurting. Deion Jennings, what he did today, and I don't know how long he went because I lost track.”
“…We have to get those guys well for the Bowl game. That's what we've got to do. We've got to figure out a way to get them well.”
What’s Next for the Scarlet Knights
Until this upcoming weekend, Rutgers will find out who their opponent will be in their 12th bowl game in program history.
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