The Scarlet Knights were not really expected to contend for the Big East title this season, but anywhere from a 6-6 to a 9-3 record was expected.
Then again, one can't foresee the tragedy that befell Eric Legrand and how it affected the entire team, mentally and emotionally.
But, the real reason Rutgers missed out on a bowl game this year was due to the offensive coaching.
The last two seasons, co-offensive coordinators Kirk Ciarocca and Kyle Flood have done nothing to deserve a third year as the offensive heads.
Coach Flood was Rutgers offensive line coach before getting promoted to co-offensive coordinator and presided over two of the best offensive lines in Rutgers history in 2006 and 2007.
However, since taking over in 2009 as co-offensive coordinator, the offensive line play has been horrendous. Rutgers offensive line gave up the most sacks in all of the FBS this year, despite returning three of five starters and another with starting experience.
It's pretty obvious that Coach Flood can't do both jobs at once and the answer to this problem is to demote him back to offensive line coach, where he will be able to adequately coach another group of young linemen with a lot of untapped potential.
Coach Kirk Ciarocca has been a terrible play caller and doomed the Scarlet Knights a multitude of times.
Ciarocca should undoubtedly take all the blame for Rutgers' 28-27 loss to South Florida. Midway through the fourth quarter Ciarocca called a run play up the middle on 2nd and 18. Running back Joe Martinek was stopped three yards back and Rutgers ended up at the two yard line.
Then, in possibly the most boneheaded calls in Rutgers history, Ciarocca called a screen pass while in the ENDZONE. The play resulted in a safety. These two points were what made the difference between a Rutgers loss and a Rutgers win.
It's just one example of how Ciarocca got his offense into the 3rd and long situation in the endzone, and even worse how he dealt with the situation.
He also doomed Rutgers against Syracuse when, during a late game drive to win the game, he called a sweep play to an overloaded Syracuse side which resulted in a 2nd and 18. Then he ran Joe Martinek up the middle AGAIN. Did he not learn from the mistakes he made the game before that against USF? If you guessed that it didn't work and instead knocked Rutgers out of field goal range and put them at 3rd and 14, you were right.
If the Scarlet Knights won those two games, they would've finished 6-6 right now and most likely in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Those two losses themselves could've easily been wins, but these were not the only time Kirk Ciarocca has had trouble with play calling.
He continued to make terrible personnel choices opting to run Joe Martinek constantly when Martinek was injured and ineffective. Martinek was never 100 percent since the second game of the season and why use an injured running back when you have better options?
What Ciarocca should do is give the carries to Jordan Thomas and De'Antwan Williams who both proved that they are the two best running backs in this football program. Yet Thomas only became the featured back with two games left in the season. De'Antwan "the Rocket" Williams, gets about one or two carries a game.
While the most effective way to run Rutgers' offense is a pass-first offense, evident in quarterback Chas Dodd’s masterful performance in Rutgers win over Big East champion UCONN. However, due to Rutgers horrendous offensive line the team has to be a run-first offense.
Too bad Ciarocca can't call plays for that either. If he was smart Ciarroca could've run Thomas and the Rocket and also called play action passes with Chas Dodd or Tom Savage. The absence of play action in Rutgers' game plan this year was evident and I saw 4 play action passes the entire season.
Ciarocca uses the "Wild Knight Formation" way too often and is too predictable with the plays that he runs.
The other teams know that Rutgers is going to run when in this formation and it became ineffective. He doesn't call reverse plays, fake passes, play action, and real passes.
Passing the ball works and keeps the defenses off balance. Wild knight quarterback and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu completed 6 of 9 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. The problem here was that Sanu only passed nine times and ran 59 times. The other Wild Knight quarterback, wide receiver Jeremy Deering passed only four times and ran 77 times.
The Wildcat formation isn't meant to be run so often, either. There's a reason it's just the Wildcat formation, not the Wildcat offense.
In addition to all of this, running Mohamed Sanu and Jeremy Deering to often is dangerous to the players’ health.
They're wide receivers and are built like wide receivers, not running backs. Sanu and Deering are not meant to take the beating that they have taken after running so often in the Wild Knight and they both suffered serious injuries due to this.
Also, alternating taking quarterbacks Chas Dodd and Tom Savage on and off the field in favor Sanu and Deering so often ruins any chance of Dodd and Savage getting a rhythm.
A good friend of mine knows little about football but while watching one of Rutgers' games even she noticed this. Why hasn't Ciarocca?
In just the last two seasons these co-offensive coordinators have managed to misuse and ruin talented recruits such as Tom Savage, the highest rated quarterback recruit to ever join Rutgers, Joe Martinek, New Jersey's leading rusher, and Keith Stroud, once a 4 star wide receiver recruit.
Schiano always talks about how he's going to make Rutgers into the big time college football program that it has so much potential to be.
But, how can they achieve that with incompetent offensive coordinators that are the reason Rutgers can't win the Big East?
Successful football programs don't tolerate incompetence and failure.
University of Texas forced their offensive coordinator to resign after Texas' offense was what caused the Longhorns to go 5-7 this past season.
West Virginia fired offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen after it became obvious that his coaching on offense was what kept West Virginia from winning the Big East this season.
Why can't Rutgers do the same?
Schiano needs to stop being stubborn and admit that the offensive coordinators are the root of the problem. If he doesn't get rid of Ciarocca and demote Flood before next season, he's wasting his time, his players' time, Rutgers fans time and the University's money.
If Schiano doesn't make these changes, he's the one that should be fired.
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