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December 28, 2013

Game Notebook: Rutgers comes up short

Play of the Day:

Rutgers fell behind 10-3 in the first quarter and needed an offensive response. On 2nd-and-7 from the RU 28, quarterback Chas Dodd generated just that, lofting a long 51-yard completion down the right sideline to wide receiver Brandon Coleman, who beat Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson. The play gave Rutgers a much-needed shot in the arm, and Dodd's 14-yard hookup with Coleman three plays later tied the score at 10.

Runner up:

Rutgers was trailing 3-0 and preparing to punt to Notre Dame after going three and out on its opening drive. Nick Marsh's kick was muffed by T.J. Jones at the ND 28, and a hit by a hustling Anthony Cioffi prevented Jones from getting a grasp on it. Instead, linebacker Quentin Gause scooped up the loose ball and put Rutgers in position to earn its first points of the day.

The Turning Point:
With the score tied at 13, the Scarlet Knights had momentum and were moving the ball in ND territory. From there, offensive coordinator Ron Prince got too cute, calling for a halfback option pass with Justin Goodwin. Goodwin threw an ill-advised, underthrown pass to Brandon Coleman, which Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell intercepted at the one-yard line. Instead of an important score before halftime, Rutgers had to settle for a 13-13 tie.

Memorable Moment:

Really multiple moments in one. Janarion Grant's kickoff returns of 51, 44 and 32 yards were another indication of what the freshman is capable of doing when he has the ball in open space and the lift he can provide a team. Integrating Grant into the offense next season will be a necessary task for coordinator Ron Prince.

Forgettable Moment:
The game was tied 10-10 when Rutgers took over at its own 18 following a Notre Dame punt with 14:04 left in the second quarter. On the first play of the series, Dodd fired a pass to Coleman on a hitch route to the right. Jackson, the ND defender, may have hit Coleman early and gotten away with a pass interference penalty, but regardless, the throw was poor and deflected. Notre Dame linebacker Kendall Moore made a diving interception, the first of his career, and it led to an Irish field goal and a 13-10 advantage.

Kyle Flood on why his team played so much off-coverage and if he considered switching to more press coverage after they surrendered a lot of shorter completions:

"I didn't think either team really broke well on the ball. Yeah, I felt the surface was a good surface when we were out here yesterday. I think what happened was as the weather got warmer and the ground thawed, it really got soft. That was, I think, the reason why some of the players were slipping a bit out there.

"But when you put a defense together, if you do one thing, you're going to give up something else, and we had made the decision that we were going to try to limit the big plays. To do that, if you start getting in press man coverage, now you're opening up opportunities for big plays."

Middle linebacker Steve Longa on what he takes out of this game:

"We've got a good defense. We've got a good team. We've got a good offense. We've just got to play 100 percent and have fun when we're out there. This season didn't go as we thought it would. But you've got to own up to your stuff. I can't wait to come back next year and play with my teammates and show people what we've got, because I see a bright future for us."

Quarterback Chas Dodd on if he felt like the offense left some points out on the field:

"I definitely think so. I think the entire day we left some on the board. And again, that's attributed to our execution. If we just here and there a few plays, if we did better on those and executed them better, I think it would be a different game."

Scarlet Nation whack of the game:
The whacks were supplied in abundance by the turf at Yankee Stadium. The surface, which was shoddy two years ago, was no better today. Players, and officials, spent much of the afternoon slipping and on several occasions, falling over completely. Given the multiple times it has occurred, this problem appears to be a staple of football games at Yankee Stadium.

The Stock Market
Stock Up
Quentin Gause. With Jamal Merrell sidelined, Gause stated his case for earning serious consideration in the off-season for a starting role next year. He was active all afternoon, recording a career-high nine tackles and recovering Jones' fumbled punt. He also held up in coverage, and showed a glimpse he could evolve into more than just a one-dimensional run-stuffer. Gause finished with 53 tackles in what was a breakout season for him.

Stock Down

Kevin Snyder. Snyder did a better job when matched up against Notre Dame's tight ends, but still has his struggles in pass coverage. Against the run, he got caught up in the wash on a few occasions, and while he made seven tackles, is not the major force one might expect from a WILL linebacker.

Inside the Numbers

  • Notre Dame outgained Rutgers 494-236
  • With his first quarter touchdown reception, wide receiver Brandon Coleman finished his Rutgers career tied for first in career touchdown receptions with 20
  • Ten of Steve Longa's 12 tackles were assisted
  • Longa's 123 total tackles this season is the most by a middle linebacker since Gary Brackett's 130 in 2012.
  • Rutgers had 10 players start all 13 games this season: WRBrandon Coleman, LTKeith Lumpkin, LGKaleb Johnson, KKyle Federico, DEMarcus Thompson, NTIsaac Holmes, DEDjwany Mera, LBKevin Snyder, LBSteve Longaand PNick Marsh.
  • Janarion Grant's 127 kickoff return yards were a career-high.

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