Three Thoughts from Rutgers Football's loss against Michigan
In one of their most thrilling games in years, Rutgers fell just short and lost to Michigan 48-42 in triple overtime to lose their fourth straight and drop to 1-4 on the season. This marks their sixth straight loss to the Wolverines as well.
Here are three thoughts after the game.......
Noah Vedral Has The Game Of His Life
A week after a disappointing three-interception performance against Illinois, quarterback Noah Vedral was able to silence a lot of his doubters who were calling for him to be replaced with junior Artur Sitkowski. Not only did the grad transfer go 29-43 for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but he came up huge when he needed to in the form of a 16 play drive that resulted in a TD to Aron Cruickshank with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter and followed it up by running in a two-point conversion to send the game to OT.
“I thought Noah played great, I thought Noah played really well,” Head Coach Greg Schiano said in his postgame press conference. “Certainly statistically that played out. But just everything, I thought he was very focused, executed well.”
Not only did Vedral take more shots down the field in this game than in prior weeks, but he looked much more confident doing so and while not every pass landed in the waiting arms of a receiver it kept the Michigan defense honest. With only three games left in the season, this performance likely secured his job as starting QB the rest of the way.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Although Offensive Coordinator Sean Gleeson called a great game and has transformed this offense into a much-improved unit, the series that will stick out like a sore thumb is the one that came in the first OT. After Michigan kicker Quinn Nordon missed his second field goal of the night, Rutgers got the ball with the chance to win the game with any type of score. Following an Isaih Pacheco two-yard run, Rutgers decided to toss it out to Pacheco which resulted in a loss of two yards, and then had Vedral center the ball which cost the Scarlet Knights an additional two yards.
“We weren’t going to be overly aggressive but they were plays that we felt could gain yardage,” Schiano added. “Sometimes you make them and sometimes you don’t I definitely thought that was in his range, just wasn’t meant to be.”
As a result, Valentino Ambrosio was tasked with a 45-yard field goal that traveled just a bit left of the uprights and sent the game to another round of OT. This wound up being Rutgers’ best chance to win the game as, despite the Scarlet Knights following it up with a TD on the next play, Michigan answered with one of their own and went on to seal the deal in the third OT.
A Missed Opportunity
While any Rutgers fan would have taken a triple-overtime thriller against Michigan as opposed to the usual embarrassing blowouts they have seen the last five years, it is hard to not think about what could have been when the win was just a kick away.
“Needless to say that a bunch of guys went and really spilled their guts out there on the field,” Schiano said. “We’re just not quite there yet, we’ll keep chopping and keep working at what we do and we will get there.”
Wins against Michigan are few and far between for Rutgers and with this likely being Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s final season in Ann Arbor, it is safe to assume the Wolverines will spare no expense in bringing in a high-profile coach who will attempt to bring the program back to immediate stardom.
“I really want our guys to learn to chop every play as hard as you can and we did that for a ton of plays tonight,” Schiano continued. “I was really proud of the way that we approached the game.”
So while this game can be viewed as a building block for a program that is taking the necessary steps in order to get back to respectability, it will be interesting to see how this game is viewed in the years to come. Will it mark the starting point for a rivalry that will see many hard-fought games throughout the next several years or will it just represent a missed opportunity for Rutgers to knock one of the blue bloods of the Big Ten?
Rutgers will return to action next Saturday when they travel to Ross-Ade Stadium to take on Purdue at 4 p.m. (ET) on FS1.