The Rutgers football team will take the field Saturday to take on Indiana. The game is the eighth all-time meeting between the two schools and the second-to-last road game of the regular season for the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 1-5).
Rutgers will look to rebound this weekend after suffering a 52-3 home loss against Wisconsin in its last effort. The then-No. 21 Badgers (6-3, 4-2) forced four Knights turnovers and scored 45 combined points in the second and third quarters to put the game away.
“We just need to keep working, you know as we say ‘keep chopping’ and then it’ll work,” said head football coach Greg Schiano. “We have some injuries that we are going to have to overcome … that’s why you build depth and that’s why young guys got to be ready to step up.”
To go along with the loss, Rutgers was dealt a severe blow to its receiving core. Schiano announced in his weekly press conference that junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Cruickshank was injured in the second quarter of Saturday’s game while returning a kickoff.
Another key player for the Knights to suffer an injury was senior quarterback Noah Vedral. Vedral exited the game in the third quarter and gingerly walked off the field. Schiano stated on Monday that the senior’s status is uncertain for Saturday’s game.
“I think (Vedral's) going to progress during the week. I think he’ll be available, I can’t tell you that for sure.” Schiano said.
While Rutgers has lost five games so far this season, wins this season have followed a certain formula. For example, all of the Knights’ four wins this season have come when they have committed zero turnovers and held the opposition to less than 20 points.
In addition, special teams has been a strength of the team this year. Behind the leg of senior punter Adam Korsak, Rutgers ranks first in the nation in net punt average at 46. If the Knights were to keep that pace, they would break the NCAA record for the statistic.
The Rutgers defense has also impressed in some categories this season. The defense ranks 13th nationally in third down percentage at approximately 31 percent and senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi still ranks as one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten, recording the second-most tackles in the conference this season.
“We’re doing a good job on third down statistically on defense … that’s when you're designing pass rush type blitzes,” Schiano said. “When they run play-action pass we got to find a way to convert, and that’s something I think we have to improve on as a defensive line.”
As for the Hoosiers (2-7, 0-6), the program is coming off a 29-7 loss to Michigan last week. With starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. out due to injury, Donaven McCulley has started Indiana's last two games. The Hoosiers are the only team in the Big Ten to not win a conference game up to this point in the season.
The Knights vs. Indiana will kick off at noon and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
“We’re moving it in the right direction, we just got to keep it going,” Schiano said. “The consistency is what lacks in a program when you’re building it. When you get it going, then that consistency is something that becomes the expectation.”
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