No Huddle Breakdown: Scouting Rutgers’ Impact Players

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football

Ohio State travels to the “Birthplace of College Football” on Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Luckily for college football fans, they’ve expanded the length of the season well past two games, eliminating the possibility of a 1-1 “National Champion” such as Rutgers was that first season. Let’s just take a moment to be proud of college football for what feels like moving out of its parent’s basement in New Jersey for bigger and better things.

Rutgers runs a Pro-Style offense, utilizing a fullback, and “in-line” tight end and the glorious “I” and “Off-Set I” formations with the quarterback under center a fair amount of the snaps. The offensive line has struggled in protection, but Rutgers combats the pass rush by moving the pocket on designed rollouts, as well as traditional screens. The offense ranks 111th nationally in Total Offense with a pedestrian 4.8 yards per play.

Defensively, Rutgers is very stout, coming in at 24th in Total Defense nationally.

While they lack the sack and tackles for loss totals, they generate their pressure by bringing the corners off the edge often, even against the run as an extra box defender. The secondary plays man coverage, though with the loss of their best defensive back, (#10) to a torn ACL, it will be interesting to see what adjustments they are forced to make now that they have had a week to prepare.

Below, we take a closer look at the individual players that will likely make an impact in this weekend’s game.

Rutgers Defense

Saquon Hampton
6’1” 207
Redshirt Junior

An under the radar prospect at the next level, Hampton has a thick frame and good overall athletic ability at strong safety. He uses good strength and aggressiveness to fill gaps in run support and shows very good ability to tackle in space. Is comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage. A solid defender in coverage, Hampton can move with slot receiver and hold his ground versus larger wide receivers or tight ends. Perhaps their most “pro-ready” prospect on defense.

Trevor Morris
6’1” 232

A 2016 Academic All-Big Ten recipient, Morris tallied 12 tackles in last week’s loss to Nebraska. An athletic strongside/inside LB, Morris is a very good run stopper as he reacts very quickly in downhill run fits. He has solid lateral quickness, but uses good strength to create space when shedding blocks. Morris displays good mental processing and awareness to leverage against outside runs. He shows good coverage abilities and plays well with his back to the ball.

Rutgers Offense

Gus Edwards
6’1” 235
Redshirt Senior

A graduate transfer from Miami (FL), Edwards is a bruising runner with a large frame with a similar running style to that of LeGarrette Blount in his early years. Edwards runs with very good aggression and good pad level to create yards after contact. He is a “North/South” runner and excels when he is decisive in turning the ball upfield. Is not utilized out of the backfield and will split carries, though his workload has increased as the season has progressed.

Damon Mitchell
6’2” 213
Redshirt Senior

A graduate transfer from Arkansas, Mitchell has proven to be a major target for the Scarlet Knights this season. Mitchell has solid athleticism with solid speed and very good functional strength. He has good hands and has been a reliable receiver for Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin during key situations. Mitchell works very well to get open after a play has broken down, something that the Ohio State secondary has struggled with.

Jerome Washington
6’4” 258

A good looking TE, Washington has been a pleasant surprise for the Scarlet Knights this season as the leading receiver. A solid run blocker, Washington uses good functional strength at the line of scrimmage as well as good grip strength to engage blockers. Predominately used in the short and intermediate passing game, he will be effective in the middle of the field in short curls to offset the pass rush. Washington has very good hands and displays good concentration to haul in passes in traffic or while taking a hit.

Other Notables

Damon Hayes, CB (#22) 6’1” 198, Filling in due to injury, Hayes is a physical corner who likes to play press coverage due to his strength and aggressiveness. Looks to make plays in run support and comes off the edge a lot to help generate pressure. Standout on special teams.

Kyle Bolin, QB (#9)- 6’2” 212, Transfer from Louisville, mobile quarterback who can make plays outside the pocket. Good escapability and can create out of chaos when given time, can deliver nice ball to deep and intermediate out routes. Reminds a bit of Trace McSorley from Penn State.

Janarion Grant, SLOT/KR/PR (#1)- Tied for the NCAA record in career Kickoff and Punt Return touchdowns with 8, Grant will mostly be a factor on special teams. He is the Rutgers equivalent to Dontre Wilson, showing tremendous athletic ability but can’t stay healthy for long enough stretches to be a factor.

Kiy Hester, FS (#2)- A ball hawk in the secondary, Hester has 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups so far this season. Has good instincts and is utilized as a “robber” to undercut shorter routes between the numbers. Takes questionable angles against the run, and does not show a physical approach to defending the run.