Connect with us


Quick Hitters: Early breakdown and initial thoughts on Rutgers



Indiana football, Rutgers football
An early breakdown and some key thoughts on Rutgers ahead of the Homecoming matchup for Indiana football this week. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

The Indiana football program heads back home for its homecoming matchup against Rutgers on Saturday.

Sitting at 2-4 and winless in the Big Ten, Indiana looks to stop the bleeding following two blowout losses.

Rutgers is 5-2 and 2-2 in Big Ten play.

Here are some early thoughts on Rutgers and the matchup.

This isn’t your father’s Rutgers. Rutgers had been among the bottom of the Big Ten for years since joining the conference in 2014. But, 2023 brings a much different football program to the Big Ten. Rutgers is 5-2 on the season, the best start since 2014. It is also off to a 2-2 start in league play, the best start since 2017. Against Michigan State on Saturday, Rutgers came back from a 24-6 deficit, marking the program’s largest comebackwin in Big Ten play since 2015, a 25-point deficit to Indiana. This was also the largest comeback for the Scarlet Knights since 2016 against New Mexico.

Kyle Monangai is the real deal. Monangai has had a breakout start to the season and has morphed into one of the most effective runners in the country. He currently leads the Big Ten and is 20th in the nation with 635 rushing yards. He has nearly 100 more yards than the second top rusher in the league. He is also second in the Big Ten and has the sixth most touchdowns in the country (6). Monangai has three games over 140 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in five games. He’s just 5-foot-9 but 215 pounds and is a physical runner who has a good burst in the open field. Indiana has its hands full with someone who will get you 5.3 yards per carry.

First drive will matter in order to set the tone of the game. There’s no question Indiana has had its difficulty maintaining 60 minutes of effort and toughness. On Saturday, it needs to right from the kick. Rutgers has started fast in nearly every game this season. In fact, the Scarlet Knights have come out of its first offensive possession with at least a field goal in five of the seven games this year. It has scored first in five of the seven games as well. In the first quarter this season, Rutgers has outscored opponents by 20 points. Indiana on the other hand, has been outscored by 34 points in the first quarter this season … that even includes a 21-0 lead against Indiana State. Indiana needs to come out prepared because Rutgers is always a team that gets off to a good start. If IU wants any chance in keeping this game close, a quick start is needed to keep the offensive play book as open as possible.

Gavin Wimsatt will likely cause fits for the Indiana football defense. The secondary has been an issue for Indiana’s defense all season, but going up against rushing quarterbacks has also hurt Indiana in key situations. That’s what it’ll face in Rutgers QB Gavin Wimsatt. Wimsatt has 219 rushing yards — the second most of any Big Ten quarterback — and has the fifth most rushing touchdowns (4) of all Big Ten players. Not only are there designed runs for Wimsatt, there are also numerous times he makes plays outside of the pocket with his legs if the pocket collapses. He’s only had more than 10 carries in one game this season, but at the same time, Saturday against Michigan State was the first time he had been sacked more than once (three times). That matched the total number of sacks for opposing teams in the previous six games.

Indiana needs to be the team that wins, because Rutgers won’t lose the game. One of the traits of this Rutgers football team is that it doesn’t beat itself. On the year, the Scarlet Knights rank fifth in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in fewest penalties at just 4.3 per game. While Indiana isn’t one to typically give up a lot of penalty yards, just about eight more yards per game than Rutgers, the timing of some of the penalties are costly. Rutgers typically doesn’t have that type of situation. Indiana needs to be prepared to fight until the finish and limit the mental mistakes that have caused a lot of the poor results for the Hoosiers thus far.

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football Notebook: Final thoughts, takeaways from week seven

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated, part of the Full Ride Network, on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTubeto stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.