Scouting Report: Rutgers
Heading into this week’s game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Penn State Nittany Lions are likely doing some soul-searching after two heartbreaking losses in a row against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans.
On the other hand, their opponent, is trending in the opposite direction. At least by their standards, the Scarlet Knights have been on a great run over the last four games ,recording three wins with the only loss coming on the road against the Michigan Wolverines.
With the Scarlet Knights heading into Beaver Stadium this weekend, there may be one name that fans leave the game remembering. That name could be Janarion Grant. The fifth-year senior receiver has virtually been a potential game breaker since he broke onto the field for the Scarlet Knights and can get his yards in creative ways.
Grant has been limited with injury this year, and thus only sits second on the team in receiving and hasn’t reached the heights many expected him to this year. Having said that, the Scarlet Knights surely know that their only hope in pulling the upset in Happy Valley rests with Janarion Grant, and whether or not he can make enough explosive plays to make this a game. Look for Grant to get his targets in the passing game as well as some rushes and special team action, should he be deemed healthy enough of course.
The only player to catch more passes this year than Grant is tight end Jerome Washington. It is quite rare for a tight end to lead his team in receiving, but that is just what Washington has managed to accomplish this year. With Grant possibly coming in healthy the Scarlet Knights could have their full arsenal at their disposal in the passing game.
Who will be tasked with getting these receivers the ball remains a bit of a question heading into Saturday.
Senior Kyle Bolin had been the starter for the early portion of the season at quarterback, though he has recently seen his job taken over by junior Giovanni Rescigno. While this has seemed to be a settled dilemma over the past couple weeks, the potential return of promising freshman Jonathan Lewis could change that. Lewis is a run-heavy quarterback who showed promise against Ohio State in garbage time and could be an option if the Scarlet Knights feel that they need to pull out something unexpected to move the ball on the Penn State defense.
Perhaps the most pivotal aspect to the Rutgers offense is their rushing attack. Rutgers uses a plethora of running backs, most notably senior Gus Edwards. Edwards leads the team in rushing by about 60 carries and 270 yards, though he will not be the only back to feature heavily in this game. Fellow senior and second leading rusher Robert Martin will likely get a good amount of touches, along with freshman Raheem Blackshear who has looked quite promising of late.
When it comes to the Rutgers defense, there isn’t much to write home about. The Scarlet Knights rank tenth in the Big Ten in scoring defense averaging 24.9 points allowed. While this isn’t bad, the Scarlet Knights tend to allow few points against inferior opponents and have allowed over 30 against Michigan, Washington and Ohio State (56). With the caliber of the Nittany Lion offense, expect to see the second version of Rutgers’ scoring defense on saturday. Additionally, Rutgers ranks near the bottom of the conference in yards allowed, while Penn State ranks second in yards. This could be a disastrous recipe for a weak Rutgers defense.
Rutgers will certainly come into this game as motivated as they’ve been all season as they sit at 4-5 with hopes of potentially making a bowl game. While Rutgers will be heavily overmatched in this contest, they are certainly more respectable than they have been in years past. The Scarlet Knights are sitting at 3-3 in the Big Ten and no longer appear to be the conference doormat. Expect them to come out focused and try to throw the kitchen sink at the Nittany Lions this weekend.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.