2017 RU spring depth chart projection – Receivers and O-line

As RU’s bowl eligibility and respectability have evaporated with the horrendous play lately, it is time to start preparing for 2017. So let’s continue by looking at  the spring 2017 projected depth chart on offense with WR and OL (QB/RB here). For the first pass we will not assume any early enrollees.

Wide Receiver/Tight End:

This unit is the opposite of the QB position where there will be a lot of turnover, and with Mitchell and Washington eligible after transferring, could be vastly improved. At the very least it provides hope that the team will have more completions against the B1G East powers. The depth on the unit could be tested.

First guess:

  1. WR1 – Mitchell / ??: From what we have heard, he is a stud if he can remain on the field. After that, it’s anybody’s guess who would be the backup.
  2. WR2 – Harris/ Tsimis: Harris has shown a ton of promise despite spending his springs on the baseball diamond. Tsimis is reliable
  3. Slot – Grant / Bailey: Pending his medical redshirt and not trying the NFL draft, this would be a nice addition. He also might still be injured so Bailey would get the first shot at this position to get the best players on the field.
  4. Tight End – Washington / Flanagan: This guy will be eligible with two years remaining and could be a star based on his recruiting rankings. Flanagan can catch the ball when defenses ignore him.
  5. Reserves – Perry, Jabbie, Parker, Bah, Blunt: Hopefully one will emerge, most likely Jabbie who will at least play on special teams.

Offensive Line:

The offensive line was supposed to be the strength of the team, but has been average or below average at times this season. With another year in the new scheme coupled with the ascension of some of the more athletic linemen we will hopefully see signs of improvement. With all the graduating seniors, this group does look thin, which is normal on the offensive line as it usually takes guys time to develop.

First guess:

  1. LT – Cole: He has the athleticism and will continue to improve.
  2. LG –  Applefield: Has already shown to be a servicable backup and with continued improvement could be a sold starter.
  3. C – Miller: Has has played guard for two years, but with the experience at other positions might need to slide to center.
  4. RG – Heeman: Like Applefield, he has shown he can be a backup and looks to be a better fit in this system than a pro set where he might have been overpowered as a tackle.
  5. RT – Seymour: Only moved to OL this fall, he has the size and quickness evidenced by already being on the two-deep. He could be real good.
  6. Reserves – Taylor, Jackson, Venesky, Krimin. The first three have been in and out of the two deep and seem to possess more athleticism than current starters. Krimin was a high recruit but it’s not clear what position is most appropriate for a guy of his size in this offense yet. If he’s good, they will find a spot, right guard if I have to guess because then Heeman can be a fall back plan at RT if Seymour does not progress.

RU spring depth chart projection – offensive backfield

With the New York Mets fan contingent in the Bay Area, we held an annual “Mets funeral” where we vented our frustrations about the current season and looked forward to the following season (even as soon as July in 2011-2012). Luckily, Rutgers still has 5 games that with a whole lot of luck, could result in a win or two. Regardless, as bowl eligibility and respectability have evaporated with the horrendous play lately, it is time to start preparing for 2017. So let’s start by looking at  the spring 2017 projected depth chart on offense with QB and RB. For the first pass we will not assume any early enrollees.


The good news: everyone is eligible to return. The bad news: everyone is eligible to return. This will be the third straight spring where it’s the same cast of characters: Laviano, Rettig, Gio, and Mike Dare. Throw in Oden, Zach Allen and we have more players (6) than passes completed (5) in the two week stretch of death. Throw in the possibility of an early enrollee (Lewis PLEASE!!!!!!) and we’re in for drama yet again barring huge strides from someone for the last 5 games this year.

First guess:

  1. Gio – he can run and has thrown significantly fewer passes than anyone else on the roster seemingly giving him a lot more potential. If the offense shows signs of life, he will get the first crack in spring.
  2. Oden – With Gio starting, Tylin Oden gets the logical backup job because he is the closest in terms of skillset making game planning easier. He has shown signs of game breaking running ability as a true freshman.
  3. Laviano – He could transfer, but remember that he has been through 4 offensive coordinators so there is still a chance he could improve, but the team and fans may never embrace him regardless.
  4. Allen – He also has one year of eligibility remaining and has a strange road this season. He was the backup since he and Laviano are close in skillset, but when the team wanted a change of pace would go with someone else. He could still be shaking off rust so you never know how he will improve.
  5. Rettig – He never got a fair shot in actual games but as has been written many times, three coaching staffs did not feel he could play game snaps, so he could transfer to FCS for his last year of eligibility. But it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he made a random appearance this year and just chucked the ball all over the yard.
  6. Dare – He has been a trooper, but has to be a candidate for a transfer to the FCS, especially due to the lack of fit in power spread and three more years of eligibility.

Running back:

The running back position which appeared to be scarily devoid of talent in spring 2013 became the best unit on the team the last four years despite the decommits of two stars on other teams Hilliman (BC) and Barkley (PSU). Hicks and Snorweah have been moved to the secondary and now back to HB. This group may be scarily thin with a transfer or injuries.

First guess:

  1. Martin – Please don’t leave for NFL!!!!
  2. Hicks – This staff needs to get him on the field more.
  3. Sneed – Has showed promise and could be a solid player.
  4. Snorweah – Most of the time RBs play right away if they are good, but academic issues and positional logjam have not let him show what he can do yet, so he could also be a good player.

Rough weekends … first world problems … sports – 10/1-10/2

This weekend was another dud for superfan Mr. Dirty Jersey. Rather than force him to answer more questions I simply named a team and he answered with his thought on this week compared to last.

Penn sprint football – Sure no one is over 172 pounds, but this team actually looks like they know what the hell is going on out there. Biggest game of the season this week though against perennial powerhouse Navy. ARROW: Trending even.

Penn football – After their own bought of incompetence they took it out on surprising and fellow 2015 co-champ Dartmouth for their first win of 2016. ARROW: Trending up.

Rutgers football – Odd how a 58-0 loss is less painful than 14-7 the week before. This team is a mess, with Michigan next. All around F on the individual report cards. On the plus side Stanford got wrecked by UW worse than the Knights. ARROW: Trending down.

Stanford football – Would have thought they could have put up a better fight against the division rival Huskies than Rutgers!!!!!! ARROW: Trending down.

Mets baseball – Did enough to secure home wild card game at home. It’s an exciting do or die for only their second back to back playoff appearances in franchise history. ARROW: Trending even.

Giants baseball – Swept a series v LA, including Kershaw to secure spot in wild card game. This looks like an even year so if they can get past the Mets in a toss up with one of the greatest Oct pitchers on the hill – Madbum, they are a dark horse. ARROW: Trending up.

A’s baseball – Not sure if anyone in Bay Area noticed them finish their season. This team is better than they showed in 2016. ARROW: Trending up.

Jets football – This was a pathetic showing on both sides of the ball. They were destroyed by KC a week ago who was destroyed by Pitt this week. And now the Jets have Pittsburgh. It’s not looking good based on the mathematical transitive property. ARROW: Trending down.

49ers football – This was disappointing, especially after I delivered the initial 14-0 score to the staff of the Burger Meister to which they picked up the pace and attitude with the customers. ARROW: Trending down.

Raiders football – This team looks good. A one point win is still a win, especially against a previously undefeated squad. In the NFL any time you win, coaching staff gets an A. It was enjoyable to share the sealing moments with long-suffering Raider Nation. ARROW: Trending up.

Heck, preseason hoops starts this week, too! It’s one of the best times of the year because even if one of your teams sucks, you can move on to the next, just hopefully not too soon for the Mets.

Rough weekends … first world problems … sports

My wife has a job where actually lives are at stake, so anytime I have a bad day (like this past Monday), it should make me feel better about my first world white collar problems. That said one way to express the emotion you can’t when staring at a computer is by watching sports! And what’s great is even if your team loses it doesn’t really matter, best described by Jerry Seinfeld. One example.

So i caught up with the most invested sports fan I know, Mr. Dirty Jersey. He lives in San Francisco which means he watches his teams alone or at bars filled with their fans (like the Wreck Room for the Jets). Note that Jets fans will take any excuse for doing the famous J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets! chant when surrounded by other fans. San Diego example.

BD: I’m sure there have been worse sports weekends in your near 30 year career as a fan, but how do you measure this one?

Dirty: Penn Sprint football won 14-9, which game some level of satisfaction being that they beat Army, but otherwise I didn’t have much other than pent up emotion that had no where to go.
BD: What happened on Saturday?
Dirty: In the Rutgers game, the tying TD to make it 7-7 and a sack on 3rd down of the following drive were the only times I got to Jersey fist pump and cheer, which they then turned over and give up a TD first play afterward. Their best play which was a 76 yard screen pass to their best player didn’t even end in a cheer because A. he’s now out for the season after being injured on the play and B. they failed to score on 4 plays inside the 5. And then they have OSU next week, ouch. And the Mets go down 10-0 only to come back to 10-8 with so many chances in the final innings.
BD: Ouch. Literally.
Dirty: This frustration carried to the Jets, but then …. 8 turnovers! Not a single Jets chant, even though much like that soccer announcer who doesn’t do anything except say a goal might be near and then yells GOOOOOL, there were so many chances in the red zone (4) that were just about to cause an eruption of emotion. This is the earliest in the season dud ever, and may have the most near Jets chants that were not to be unlike 2012 Niners game where there was no sniff compounded by being surrounded by 49ers faithful.
So looking at the past 7 seasons when i exclusively watch at bars, I recall the following zero Jets chant games. Which is ridiculous how many there actually are, but off the top of my head 2010: 45-3 game which was then avenged making it ok, the aforementioned 49ers game in 2012. ’13: Down 28-0 to Cincinnati in the 1st quarter! The bills game after the bye, 2014: bills 38-3 after they did not practice due to a blizzard! None last year.
But how many would the pats have?!?!?!?!?
BD: And all this on a day when the Mets, yes the New York Mets won 17-0.
Dirty: True, and at the end of the weekend, the Mets still lead the wild card, Jets have a lot of football to play, and Rutgers still has 4 winnable games (maybe) on their schedule to achieve bowl eligibility. So sports doesn’t matter anyway and this weekend may go down not even being remembered.
Full list compiled:
2010: full: the 45-3 game, possible: the 9-0 packers loss (though im sure there was a 3rd down stop somewhere)
2011: possible: Eagles loss that made them 8-6
2012: full: 49ers game, possible: miami game, doesn’t count: bills week 17
2013: full: Cinci, weeks 11-13 worst 3 weeks of football i have ever seen
2014: full: SD 31-0, and bills 38-3
2015: zero, though week 17 was painful we still had jets chant on Decker’s TD
2016: this game

Key RU takeaways from the Howard win – Coaching

The second game is less of a crap shoot, and RU was moving at half speed compared to their opponent in the first quarter … again. After that they just wore down the FCS opponent.

We will finish our report card reviews with coaching. Overall a D+. Lucky to avoid ESPN CFB nation biggest faceplant in the B1G … again.

Chris Ash: B+. His intensity was partially responsible for the team waking up as he got in many players faces on the sideline after the initial deficit. His persona, the team’s will, and intense off season workouts seemed to pay off.

Drew Mehringer: B+. You don’t blame the coach when you are down 14-0 and the lone offensive play was a pick thrown behind a receiver that ricocheted. His unit grinded it out and though more points would have been nice in the first half his game plan did work. Making Laviano a game manager was unfortunate because it would have been nice to try to get him going early in the season, but you play to win the game which he did. He also played Gio and Oden to get their feet wet even though all they did was run the ball or hand it off.

Jay Niemann: B+, They did not allow a point after midway through the first quarter. The second TD came after a one play break on the sidelines where he did not even have time to coach up his unit. I also never get upset when a team allows a TD on the opening drive because no matter who you play, their offense has been practicing for that drive all week. Tackling took a step back from a week prior, but the saltiness, desire, and toughness at Niemann’s previous stops showed up today.

Vince Okruch: B+, clearly the special teams units were not ready to go in the first game but they were today. It’s not the coaches fault when it’s his first season and the team doesn’t have personnel to touchback kickoffs or make 41 yard field goals.

Rutgers report card and key takeaways from the Howard win – Special teams

The second game is less of a crap shoot, and RU was moving at half speed compared to their opponent in the first quarter … again. After that they just wore down the FCS opponent. Overall a B-.

Kicking: C.

Smolar (C-) wasn’t great on his kickoffs, but they didn’t get returned really. Cintron (B-) was better other than his one touchback, as he had two inside the 20. Bonagura (C-) missed a 41 yarder as the first half expired and made a 28 yarder. He needs to be better because if RU wins another game this season, it will probably be a close one.

Coverage: B+

This unit played a lot better making punt returns obsolete and kickoff were returned for less than 20 yards each despite no touchbacks. This unit will need to keep it up because Rutgers will need to win the special teams battle. Stevens was the standout.

Return game: B.

This unit can do even better than an 84 yard TD that stifled the momentum from the FCS foe. It was a thing of beauty.

Rutgers report card and key takeaways from Howard win – Backers and D backs

The second game is less of a crap shoot, and RU was moving at half speed compared to their opponent in the first quarter … again. After that they just wore down the FCS opponent.

We will shift to the linebackers and defensive backs.

Note, there may have been guys who had a few plays including special teams that may be omitted. The special teams aspect applies more to LBs and DBs than any other position group.

Linebackers: B- (Jones B+, Clayton B, Roberts C+, Morris C, Maddox-Williams Inc.)

The linebackers did just enough in this game. The defensive line was occupying a lot of blockers (again) and the linebackers did respond with plenty of tackles. Morris and Roberts played better, but not even close to the championship level desired by Niemann. Greg Jones is a mauler, this guy loves football and it shows. Clayton should move to another position because he looks like the second best backer on the squad but is just behind arguable the team’s best defensive player through two weeks.

Defensive backs: C (Hester B-, Cioffi B, Douglas D, Wharton B, Austin B-, Stevens B+, Hayes B+, Campbell Inc.) Unit synergy C.

The defensive backs had a little more chemistry than in week 1, but still have a lot of room for improvement. They only allowed 103 yards passing which is solid, even though it felt like more. The communication was not bad as there were no super blown coverages.

On an individual scale at corner, Wharton, Austin, and Hayes (who also had a nice sack) subbing in for Douglas after he surrendered a long bomb played significantly better. Hope for continuous improvement. Hester did not play as well as week ago as the small quick Howard receivers presented match up problems in single coverage for he and Cioffi. After being trucked early in the game, Cioffi woke up and had 5 tackles (second to Wharton’s 6 in the DBs). The biggest surprise was Stevens who after shocking everyone by making the two deep was all over the field on special teams. he only had two tackles but disrupted many more plays.

Rutgers report card and key takeaways from Howard win – Trenches

The second game is less of a crap shoot, and RU was moving at half speed compared to their opponent in the first quarter … again. After that they just wore down the FCS opponent.

We will continue with the most important groups on the team, the linemen.

As noted last week, these grades will get more accurate as we understand what the team is trying to do on the O line schematically as the season progresses. Also, for the lines there may have been guys who had a few plays including special teams that may be omitted.

Offensive line: A- (Cole B, Miller A-, Nelson A, Muller A-, Denman A, Applefield B, Heeman B, everyone else C)

The offensive line allowed one sack, but when you have 375 yards rushing, it’s usually a testament to the big boys. Everyone played better than last week, especially Muller and Denman who consistently overpowered the players on the other side of the ball. Less commentary on the offensive line is a good thing and that’s true here. A number of the younger players including Jonah Jackson and Kamaal Seymour who recently converted to offensive line where throwing their weight around.

Defensive line: A- (Hamilton A-, Davis A-, Lambert B, Pinnix-Odrick A, Joseph C, Wilkins C, rest B+: Nash, Wiafe, Bateky, Hogan)

Hamilton cannot be blocked by one man who is smaller than him. Pinnix-Odrick had a much better game than last week with two sacks and leading the team in tackles with 6. Everyone played better than last week with the exception of Quanzell Lambert who was still steady, but did not make as many tackles as you expect. Joseph will play better against New Mexico.

The most encouraging sign was how the reserves were able to rotate in and the team did not miss a beat. This allowed everyone to stay fresh on a super hot day (130 on the field??!?!?!?!)


Rutgers report card and key takeaways from Howard win – Skill positions

The second game is less of a crap shoot, and RU was moving at half speed compared to their opponent in the first quarter … again. After that they just wore down the FCS opponent.

We will start with the glory guys and the offensive skill break down.

Quarterback: C (Laviano C, Wild Knights A (Grant, Oden, Rescigno)

Laviano was his usual self, making a few plays that make you scratch your head and being super conservative otherwise. .. Yes, the exact same as a week ago throwing a horrible INT but otherwise being an effective game manager for three quarters which is what the team needed.

This week it was still Grant  that jumped off the page leading the team with over 100 yards rushing, PLUS it was Oden and Gio. The Bison did not respect any Rutgers QB throwing the ball really which will catch up to RU eventually, but wow. Oden looked like Colin Kaepernick, just a young deer out there. He took one good pop but you can see the potential. Gio also looked like a truck, running through 3 tackles on a tremendous TD run.

Running back: B (Martin B+, Goodwin C+, Hicks B, Sneed C+)


As expected, this unit wore down an undermanned defense. Martin showed his potential, but can surely play better, Hicks was his usual self over 6 yards per carry. Goodwin got decent playing time but this rotation will likely remain with about this breakdown. Sneed had a few carries that were ok, but what can you expect when the defense knows you are going to run and you don’t have the full starting offensive line in there.

Receivers: C+ (No individual grades this week as no one caught more than 2 passes), WR blocking A-


WR blocking improved dramatically from the first game which allowed the team to run for so many yards and not need to throw as many passes. That said they did not get great separation, in fact Patton’s touchdown was a wrong route but his chemistry with Laviano helped them get 6. The chemistry with all other receivers looked poor (other than Harris) and the receivers did not get as much separation as you would have hoped. Part of that could be attributed to so much engagement in blocking so regularly, the WR-CB battles were raging.

Harris scored a nice TD and will surely be needed as a deep threat moving forward because teams simply do not respect RU’s passing game at all.

Rutgers report card and key takeaways from the whooping v UW – Coaching

The first game is always a crap shoot, and RU was punched in the mouth several times before they could recover.

We will finish our report card reviews with coaching. Overall a D+. Lucky to avoid ESPN CFB nation biggest faceplant in the B1G.

Chris Ash: C-. He left the play calling to his coordinators and the headset issue in the first half did not seem to be his fault. The team played hard and he maintained an even keel even after the game publicly. That said, they got demolished and the team was simply not ready to play in any phase of the game which falls on the head coach. Everyone knew there would be days like this so we’ll just have to see how they bounce back.

Drew Mehringer: D+. (we think) Did they really run the same play 3 times in a row to start the game then have to burn a timeout on a 4th and 1 from deep in their own territory? As the game progressed Drew and his staff seemed to get a better feel for what personnel was in there and making more appropriate play calls, but the offense could not get the defense any rest in the first quarter and didn’t score a single TD until garbage time. The lack of downfield throws has been beat to death but it’s difficult to know how much of that is coaching and how much is the QB. The excuse that they were trying to get first downs to give the defense rest went on deaf ears because that didn’t work either.  We also don’t know how much authority Laviano has to audible at the line as several times Rutgers play call was completely wrong and blew up in their faces. This coaching staff made the same QB assessment as the previous one, so perhaps we will see Tylin Oden in there this season especially after Maryland started Pigome, RU’s other primary QB target in week 1. He was without his starting tailback (and most productive offensive player) but the whole point of this offense is that they should be able to move the ball and put points on the board especially when trailing and the opponent is playing conservative, that did not happen.

Jay Niemann: C-, There were very few instances (only 1 i can remember) where RU totally called UW bluff on a play and blew it up due to scheme. It was a blitz where two DBs were in the backfield resulting in a sack. That said, the group was resilient and did keep battling and in the second half allowed only one score and that was when UW was given the ball inside the 5. There was absolutely no pressure with the front 4, partially for reasons already described, but the bottom line is RU will need a better game plan. It’s not the coaches fault entirely when players simply don’t execute, but when Andre Hunt is chasing slot receivers that is a scheme issue. Niemann has a good track record so I expect him to learn a lot from his unit’s performance and continue to improve. Tackling which was an issue all year last year wasn’t bad and when players did miss tackles it was usually it was for running too hard which is better than not.

Vince Okruch: D, clearly the special teams units were not ready to go and neither were the tight ends (who he also coaches). I won’t give him an F because the decisions on whether to go for it, field goals, etc is made by the head coach. His kicker did make both attempts.