Coming off a 37-30 comeback win against Purdue last week, the Rutgers football team looks to its seventh contest of the season against Penn State. The Scarlet Knights (2-4, 2-4) will host the Nittany Lions (1-5, 1-5) at SHI Stadium on Saturday, with Penn State coming off of its first win of the season against Michigan.
The Nittany Lions still have not been able to set a common rhythm all season, as starting quarterback Sean Clifford has thrown 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with Penn State also having one of the highest turnover ratios in the country this season.
The Nittany Lions picked up their first win against the Wolverines (2-4, 2-4) last week, a team Rutgers lost to 48-42 in triple overtime two weeks ago. The Knights' loss to Michigan was especially frustrating, especially when senior quarterback Noah Vedral arguably played his best game so far as a Scarlet Knight, throwing for 381 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Vedral was deemed out for the game against the Boilermakers (2-3, 2-3) by head football coach Greg Schiano, as he was seen feeling uncomfortable during pregame warmups. Schiano said that Vedral ended up suffering an injury in the loss to the Wolverines, as the decision to sit him out “went as late as kickoff, just to see if (Vedral) could do it."
Filling in for Vedral, junior quarterback Artur Sitkowski went 19 for 28 with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while having a 67.9 completion percentage. Sitkowski impressed by throwing twice to senior wide receiver Shameen Jones for two scores of 14 yards a piece.
Although Sitkowski got the start, junior quarterback Johnny Langan entered in the second half, where he went a perfect four for four, throwing a strike down the middle to sophomore running back Kay’Ron Adams for a 62-yard touchdown.
Rutgers picked up the win with the play of its two quarterbacks, alongside its overall offense and special teams, bringing them to the 2-4 Big Ten record the team currently sits at.
As they head toward their matchup against Penn State, the Knights look to continuously work on the issues they have been dealing with, as they look to limit the number of points scored against them. Rutgers has gone 1-1 in the last two games, but has allowed its opponents to score a total of 78 points throughout the two game stretch.
Senior linebackers Olakunle Fatukasi and Tyshon Fogg combined with junior defensive back Christian Izien for eight tackles each to lead the way defensively for the Knights against Purdue. The defense was able to keep Rutgers in the game in order to lead to a comeback, but the team looks to improve on closing these holes, while also limiting the number of penalties taken per game, something that has been costly to the Knights in several matchups this season.
Schiano was asked whether this specific occasion will help the team learn going forward when it comes to holding onto a lead.
“Anytime you do anything and you do it successfully, it should give you more confidence. It should give you a frame of reference that you can look back to," he said.
Schiano also said he was pleased with the way the team came back, managing the time of possession in the fourth quarter leading to the victory. He said this hopefully will serve as a source of confidence for the players.
With Rutgers looking to grab its first winning streak of the season, the team will look to fix these issues, while still producing high offensive numbers this year.
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