For the first time since 2014, Rutgers is off to a 2-0 start even though its results on offense are not necessarily indicative of its record.
Ranked near or at the bottom nationally of several major offensive categories, the Scarlet Knights hope to display an improved ability to move the ball and remain unbeaten Saturday afternoon when they host FCS foe Delaware in Piscataway, N.J.
Rutgers (2-0) is seeking its first 3-0 start since winning the first seven games of the 2012 season in coach Kyle Flood’s debut season after Greg Schiano’s first stint. The Scarlet Knights are unbeaten despite ranking 129th in yards per completion, 118th in total offense, tied for 114th in third-down conversion, tied for 98th in red zone offense and 93rd in rushing offense.
In the season opener, Rutgers cruised to a 61-14 win over Temple despite getting 365 total yards offense, and in Saturday’s 17-7 win at Syracuse, offense was significantly more difficult to come by. Against Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights totaled 195 yards on offense, converted 3 of 15 third downs and did not score until Kyle Monangai’s 11-yard TD run with 6:46 left in the third quarter.
Quarterback Noah Vedral completed 22 of 28 passes for 145 yards and a go-ahead touchdown later in the third quarter.
“I actually thought Noah did exactly what he needed to do,” Schiano said. “He needed to come here and play a clean game, and he really did do that.”
Delaware (2-0) is ranked sixth in the STATS Perform FCS poll, made the FCS semifinals last season and was picked second in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll. The Fightin’ Blue Hens followed up a 34-24 win at Maine with a 27-10 win over St. Francis (PA) when Nolan Henderson completed 18 of 23 passes for 259 yards.
“Delaware was one of the best (four) teams in the whole country last year — that’s why they played (in the semifinals),” Schiano said. “As you watch them, they’re a good football team. They have good players on offense, good players on defense and good players in the kicking game. We understand exactly what Delaware is.”
Delaware is 0-9 against FBS opponents since Joe Flacco led a 59-52 win at Navy in 2007. In 2019, Delaware held a lead into the fourth quarter in a 17-14 loss at Pittsburgh.
“College football is a beautiful thing,” Blue Hens coach Danny Rocco said. “On any given Saturday, you just start all over every week.”
Saturday is the 32nd meeting between the schools but first since 1973.
–Field Level Media