193, 410, 481, 228.
Those are the rushing yards given up by Rutgers in four consecutive Big Ten losses to Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, and Illinois. In those four games, Rutgers has been outscored 174-14. The Scarlet Knights are currently 117th in the S&P+ ratings, good for dead last in the Big Ten.
They’re coming to TCF Bank this Saturday to take on a Minnesota team that has finally found its run game. It could get ugly.
Then again, circumstances may conspire to make the game closer than intended. For one, the Gophers are still without the services of Mitch Leidner. Although he’s been cleared for light practice and worked out Tuesday in full gear, he’s not expected to be at game speed by Saturday. Tracy Claeys confirmed that he “expects it’ll be Conor [Rhoda]’s game again.” (Joe Christensen, Star Tribune).
Speaking of Rhoda, his story may well be that good things ultimately come to those who wait. A former walk-on, Rhoda has not had many opportunities to play for the Gophers so far, but now that he’s starting, he’s looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd (Andy Greder, Pioneer Press).
Meanwhile, right tackle Jonah Pirsig is still out and Garrison Wright will play in his place. In a bit of good news, MLB Cody Poock has been cleared for practice, but hasn’t shown up on the depth chart yet (Mike Hendrickson, Minnesota Daily).
The view from the banks of the Raritan is not especially pretty. Thanks to a lack of production from starter Chris Laviano, junior Gio Rescigno will get the nod against Minnesota. He went 10-of-18 for 120 yards and a touchdown playing in relieof of Laviano in the second half against Illinois. That touchdown represents the Scarlet Knights’ only scoring through 12 quarters of football, so this sudden confidence in the unproven Rescigno is at least understandable (Ryan Dunleavy, NJ.com).
Meanwhile, in an attempt to get Rutgers to stop something—anything—on defense, head coach Chris Ash is emphasizing “rugby style tackling” and encouraging Rutgers’ players to practice with the Roll Tackle Ring, which is effectively a giant donut. The results have been decidedly mixed in the past (John Munson, NJ.com).
Our zebra mussel-type cousins at On the Banks have a preview that suggests more wishful thinking than analysis. To wit,
The Rutgers offense will play with a much different energy with Gio Rescigno at QB and will do things that the Minnesota defense hasn’t seen them do on tape. I am confident Rutgers can play with Minnesota and maybe a couple of bounces go our way for once.
Finally, here’s a timely reminder that there is still so much good in the world, and that great things happen when we reach out to help one another, as in this story about Minnesota’s Gaelin Elmore (Jake Ricker, Ski U Mah Magazine).