The Rutgers football team will travel to take on Syracuse this Saturday in the program’s second game of the 2021 season. This weekend’s game will be the first matchup between the two teams since the Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0) defeated the Orange (1-0, 0-0) 23-15 in 2012.
Rutgers’ season got off to a strong start last week with a 61-14 win over Temple. In the win, the Knights’ defense held the Owls (0-1, 0-0) to just 261 total yards of offense and forced five turnovers.
“Well, they were the whole story in the first half,” said head football coach Greg Schiano when asked about the impact turnovers had on the game. “Might have been a ten-yard differential in yards, right. The third down conversions were the same, so yeah — they were critical.”
While the defense held its weight, the Rutgers offense will look to follow up a performance that saw the group score seven total touchdowns. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral threw for 138 yards and a touchdown while junior quarterback Johnny Langan and freshman running back Kyle Monangai each made 2 of the team’s 6 rushing touchdowns.
In the midst of the excitement of opening weekend, the Knights’ offense also received news about a recent addition to their quarterback room.
On Friday evening, James Kratch of NJ Advance Media reported that Gavin Wimsatt, a four-star quarterback originally a part of the program’s 2022 recruiting class, will enroll in the University this week and join the team. Wimsatt was not expected to join the team until this upcoming January, after the conclusion of the season.
“Well, it definitely is a new situation, right, he’s the second player in I think the history of college football to do it,” Schiano said. “College sports is changing so you need to adapt, and we’re doing our best to do that. He wanted to do this, he and his family, and there’s an avenue to do it. So we helped them navigate that avenue, but it was his hard work. He got it done and now he’s a member of the team, like every other member of the team.”
Schiano said that Wimsatt’s status for this weekend’s game has yet to be decided.
Shifting attention over to Syracuse, the program is also looking to start the season 2-0 after a 29-9 win over Ohio last weekend. In the game, the Orange were led on offense by Sean Tucker, who rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. The Syracuse running back group had three rushing touchdowns in total.
“We think (Tucker is) really good — that’s why he’s running out there first — but we think we’ve got some other guys too, so we want to make sure that he can handle that workload,” said head coach Dino Babers. “If he can’t handle that workload, then we need to divide it up with somebody else that’s in the backfield.”
Saturday’s game will kick off at 2 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the ACC Network. The contest will also be the first time Rutgers will play on the road with fans in attendance since the 2019 season.
“It’s not only a real road environment, but it’s probably one of the loudest road environments you can have,” Schiano said. “We’ll be prepared for it, but until you go through it, you don’t know how your team is going to respond.”
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