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2020 Big Ten Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

(Photo: John Otterstedt, 247Sports)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
(Photo: John Otterstedt, 247Sports)

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are not what people would call a big-time program. With only one winning season since they joined the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights’ modest pedigree leaves much to be desired most years. 2020 looks to be no different, unfortunately. With an 0-9 Big Ten record in 2019, a schedule consisting only of conference opponents is a lousy shake for Rutgers.

In his debut season for his second stint as head coach, Greg Schiano will look to experiment with a new-look 30 front, which makes use of four linebackers and three defensive linemen instead of the traditional 4-3 front that Rutgers has been known to run. This is mostly because of the great depth that Rutgers has at the linebacker position. The Scarlet Knights will return six linebackers with starting experience, including proven playmakers Tyshon Fogg, Olakunle Fatukasi, Tyreek Maddox-Williams, and Drew Singleton.

The secondary is set to build on last year as well, with returning players Avery Young and Tre Avery as well as newcomer Brendon White, an Ohio State transfer. The unit has a lot to improve on after allowing 434 yards a game in 2019, but a change in the system might be better suited to the available depth.

Rutgers is a mess on offense. How bad? Worst in the conference for the past four years. They’ve become the laughing stock on the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights welcome a new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson, a former Division III quarterback who helped rejuvenated Oklahoma State last year.

While there’s not much to work with in piscatoway, Gleeson has shown what he can do to an offense, with some decent players who buy into the system. See Chuba Hubbard.

Bright spots include running backs Isaiah Pacheco, Kay’Ron Adams, and Aaron Young, who totaled 1,043 rushing yards last season, and receiver Bo Melton, who is the only somewhat proven pass-catcher on the roster. The quarterback position remains the most uncertain, with Artur Sitkowski and Nebraska transfer Noah Vedral competing for the starting job.

Artur Sitkowski was incredibly inconsistent in his freshman year, throwing a league-high 18 interceptions against only four touchdowns. After opting to sit out for the last eight games of 2019 to preserve a redshirt, he will look to regain his status as the starter. Vedral is slightly less proven but much more efficient within the small sample we have seen. At Nebraska and UCF, Vedral totaled 723 pass yards and 192 yards on the ground, including seven total touchdowns in his limited play.

Overall, Rutgers still does not have the talent or the depth to compete in the Big Ten. Their schedule does them no favors either, with away games at Michigan State and Ohio State, and other games against Michigan and Penn State. Schiano is likely to have no wins in his long-awaited return to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

2020 Season Record Prediction: 0-8

Check in later for more Big Ten previews!

Up next (tomorrow): The Maryland Terrapins

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