Trentonian U: Rutgers thoroughly unimpressive, but there's no reason to panic
Had Rutgers pulverized Norfolk State on Thursday night, it would have been more than a bit premature for Knights fans to start booking tickets for the Fiesta Bowl.
With that in mind, that the Knights' season-opening win over an undermanned FCS opponent was somewhere in between unconvincing and downright embarrassing doesn't mean fans ought to declare the season over and start counting the days until Mike Rice holds his first formal practice.
After Rutgers turned in a fairly impressive second half, outscoring Norfolk State 25-0, I feel only slightly different about this team than I did before the game began.
This team is young. It has talent in certain areas but huge question marks in others. In the opener, the areas of question were a lot more clear than the areas of certainty.
The offensive line, for instance, was a mess, allowing Norfolk State to put constant pressure on Tom Savage, even shaking him up once on a late second-quarter sack. The kicking game was similarly shaky, with San San Te missing two of his first three field goal attempts.
Savage -- even when considering his line hung him out to dry on multiple occasions -- was far from great -- a key reason the Knights finished with 154 passing yards, only 23 more than Norfolk State.
The Knights freshmen? Neither Jordan Thomas nor Jeremy Deering did anything particularly memorable. But that merely means it's too early to cast a verdict on how good they'll be this year, whereas monster performances would have lent credence to the optimistic theory that they'll be bigtime players right away.
But this wasn't all ugly. The defense allowed Norfolk State to threaten on several occasions in the first half but didn't break. Brandon Bing blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Joe Lefeged.
Joe Martinek still isn't going to make anyone's Heisman watch list, but he plowed through the Norfolk defense when Rutgers desperately needed to start moving the ball in the third quarter.
So after what was, in essence, a glorified scrimmage, perhaps this is the most important thing:
No one got hurt.