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Penn State’s Prey 2019: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

If you ever wanted to know how it feels to be a doormat, go ask anyone associated with the Rutgers football program. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers has gone 19-42 overall and 7-36 in conference. There really isn’t much to say about it. It doesn’t take much analysis to understand how bad Rutgers (1-11, 0-9 BIG) has been. Head Coach Chris Ash has promised quite a bit since arriving a few years ago and has very little to show for it. He is undeniably on the hot seat.

The Scarlet Knights host UMASS, Boston College, and Liberty throughout the season. You would hope they could salvage at least one or two wins against those teams. Besides from playing at Iowa and at Michigan, the most brutal part of the season will be the end–by hosting Ohio State and Michigan State and traveling to Penn State.

As the saying goes:

You win some, you lose some, unless you are Rutgers, than you win few and lose most.

It will get better for Rutgers, but if I were a Rutgers fan I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

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Offense (13.5 PPG, Returning Starters: 8)

Rutgers brings back three starting offensive linemen. That is going to be important for a team that is going to live and die by the running game. It isn’t a bad idea to stick to the running game when you have an explosive back like Raheem Blackshear (824 yards, 6 TDs) and another tailback in Isaih Pacheco (551 yards, 3 TDs) to spell him. Blackshear showed his versatility with 44 catches out of the backfield as well.

Another reason to keep the ball on the ground is to keep the ball out of the hands of their quarterback, Artur Sitkowski. Sitkowski threw 18 interceptions and had the worst pass efficiency rating at 76.4 in the country. You aren’t going to win very many games when you turn the ball over that much. The good news is Sitkowski can’t get worse in his second year.

Rutgers is still looking for more receiving options, but look for Bo Melton, Eddie Lewis, and Shameen Jones to step up into larger roles. The receivers corps needs to find a way to create more big plays to help their young quarterback out and relieve the running game from stacked boxes.

A realistic goal for this offense? Limit the turnovers and try and score more than 15 points per game.

Defense (31.3 PPG, Returning Starters: 9)

The defense gave up more than 4 touchdowns a game last season. If they want to win more football games they are going to need to bring that number way down, obviously.

When it comes to the secondary, true sophomore Avery Young (67 tackles, 10 pass breakups) played admirably as a freshman. Damon Hayes (63 tackles, 2 INTs) will be moving back to corner this season from the safety spot.

In front of them is Tyreek Maddox-Williams (47 tackles) and Tyshon Fogg (47 tackles) at the linebacker positions. Coach Ash likes his depth with this group, but I don’t see it, they lost two linebackers that led the team in tackles.

Upfront is where Rutgers has been historically bullied. The Scarlet Knights lose Kevin Wilkins and Jon Bateky to graduation. This leaves Elorm Lumor (4 sacks), Julius Turner, and Willington Previlon to lead the way. They do return pass rusher, Mike Tverdov who had 4 sacks last season.

Cory’s Take

When I was in high school, my head coach would put together a “senior package” that would be comprised of just seniors playing in their last game. It was a fun way to play the seniors that have given so much to the program after the game had been decided. Barring bad weather, Coach Franklin can probably assemble his own package of seniors to play the second half of this game. I don’t know the nice way to say this, but I am not sure how much spirit Rutgers will have left after playing Ohio State, Michigan State, and then Penn State to end a season that probably won’t be going Rutgers way. Penn State by a lot.

Too-Early Prediction

Rutgers: 3

Penn State: 42


(Follow me on Twitter @Cory_Lestochi)

This is the twelfth and final installment of Penn State’s Prey 2019. If you have missed any of the pieces you can find them here: Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, MarylandPurdueIowa, MichiganMichigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio State.

Opinion: John Petrishen Shouldn’t be Allowed to Play Against Penn State

Today, news broke that former Penn State safety, John Petrishen has transferred to Pitt. Petrishen is able to play right away because he earned a degree from Penn State. He will have two years of eligibility at Pitt as he will be asking for a medical redshirt year. It isn’t known how much of an impact the Pittsburgh native will have with Pitt as he is still going through sports physicals and it is unclear if he is entirely healthy yet.

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that the Pitt Panthers will be traveling to Penn State on September 14th, I broke down the Pittsburgh Panthers team here.

Now it is unclear exactly when Petrishen left the team, but the fact still remains: In less than a year removed from the Penn State football program, Petrishen will be facing his old team with a new school.

I have no issue with graduate transfers playing immediately, but they shouldn’t be allowed to play against their former team if they transferred less than 4 months ago. Right now a grad-transfer could occur in the spring or summer, and if the transfer is approved by the NCAA, then they could start that following fall season, regardless of who they play. I don’t know if a deadline exists for these transfers in the offseason, but you would think transfers would have to happen at least a month before the season. Most of the time these transfers aren’t an issue, but a last second transfer from one school to another, who will be playing the original school that season, is unfair.

Now, I am in no way bashing JP when I say this next part, but his impact in this year’s game will most likely be minimal and his transfer won’t be a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Also, I am glad he is able to play closer to home to finish out his career, but he shouldn’t be allowed to play against Penn State.

I wish him nothing the best and hope he has a healthy and successful college career.

Opinion: First AP Top 25 Poll is Out and Nobody Should Care

The first AP Top 25 Rankings were released this afternoon. Penn State came in at No.15. Here are where other teams in the Big Ten landed: No. 5 Ohio State, No.7 Michigan, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 20 Iowa, and No. 24 Nebraska.

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The worst thing about college football is the preseason rankings. It’s a funny concept to have writers across the country vote on the best teams in the country before a game has even been played. Then, as teams begin to beat each other, these same voters continue to use these initial rankings for justification when comparing teams. For example, on Saturday if No.8 Florida loses to unranked Miami people will applaud Miami for beating a top ten team and will move them up drastically in the rankings. Then, when it comes time to choosing teams in the College Football Playoff rankings, people will count the Miami win over Florida as a win against a top ten opponent regardless of how Florida does the rest of the season. Even if Florida should have never been ranked No.8 to start the season in this hypothetical situation.

This also creates conference bias because when you have a highly ranked Team A losing to an in conference Team B, Team B replaces Team A in the rankings. Then, when Team B loses to Team C, Team C replaced Team B in the rankings. All of a sudden the conference is earning praise for being super competitive because of that initial preseason ranking when actually they are all just average teams beating each other up.

Therefore, these preseason rankings create a early ranking bias and a strength of schedule imbalance that carries throughout the season. If we wanted to do it the right way, there would be no rankings until the College Football Playoff committee comes out with their rankings on November 5th. This allows writers and committee members alike to learn who the best teams in the country really are.

Take last year as an example where 54 different schools were ranked in the AP Top 25. Additionally, 14 schools weren’t even ranked until at least half thru the season. This means there is a certain level of parity between the above average teams in college football. Instead of trying to guess who is the best at the beginning of the season and creating bias for the rest of the season, we should hold off on the rankings until we actually know something about them.

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