As college football season draws ever-closer, we’re running down Indiana’s schedule to preview its opponents for 2023.
IU’s homecoming game against Rutgers will be an important one for the Hoosiers. The Scarlet Knights are not a complete pushover, but they are a team Indiana will know it has to beat to have any chance at a bowl game. The Hoosiers fell in Piscataway last season, Rutgers’ lone conference win. The Scarlet Knights have won two straight over IU.
- Opponent: Rutgers
- Date/Time/TV: Saturday, October 21, noon E.T., TBA
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
- 2022 record/postseason result: 4-8, 1-8 Big Ten
Returning production, offense: 73 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Offensive outlook: Rutgers has a good amount of returning production on offense, but that unit was one of the worst in the Big Ten last season. The passing attack was particularly brutal, ranking last in the conference and eighth-worst in the country. The Scarlet Knights will hope for improvement this year from returning junior quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, who was named starter ahead of fall camp. The team also saw three of its four leading receivers, including the top two, from last year also depart. RU will lean on senior tight end Johnny Langan and junior receiver Chris Long among other returners, with transfers JaQue Jackson an Naseim Brantley also stepping in at wideout.
Rutgers’ rushing offense in 2022 was better, finishing eighth in the conference. Both of its leading rushers are back in junior Kyle Monangai and sophomore Samuel Brown V. The Scarlet Knights have three returning starters on the offensive line, and they’ll need better play from that group this year to be more competitive. Pro Football Focus graded them the third-worst run-blocking team in the Big Ten and the fourth-worst pass-blocking team in the conference.
Head coach Greg Schiano fired offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson midseason in 2022, and hired Kirk Ciarrocca for that job in January. So the offense will have new handprints on it this year.
Returning production, defense: 72 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Defensive outlook: Only IU allowed more points per game than Rutgers did in 2022, though the Scarlet Knights finished closer to the middle of the pack in terms of yardage allowed. Part of that difference is because the RU defense finished last in the Big Ten in opponent red zone conversions. That will have to improve this season for the Scarlet Knights to get better as a team.
RU does bring back a decent amount of defensive production, though, including All-Big Ten defensive end Aaron Lewis. 2022 leading tackler Deion Jennings also returns, along with leading sackers Wesley Bailey and Tyreem Powell. Eight of Rutgers’ 11 defensive starters are back in Piscataway this year. That level of continuity could help the unit improve in 2022.
Returning starters, special teams: PK Jude McAtamney
Special teams outlook: Rutgers has a lot of turnover in its special teams, though stability at placekicker with McAtamney back. But he’ll be looking to improve this year after finishing last in the Big Ten with a 66.7 field goal percentage (12 for 18). Sophomore Flynn Appleby appears set to take over the punting duties. All-Big Ten returner Aron Cruickshank moved on from the program, so the team will have new faces in those spots as well.
Overall Outlook: Rutgers, like Indiana, has to deal with the Big Ten East gauntlet. That will leave minimal margin for error in any winnable games for making 2023 a successful season for the Scarlet Knights. Including the win over IU, Rutgers kept its deficit in conference games to one possession or better on just three occasions in 2022. The rest of the games were settled by three scores or more. Rutgers does bring back a lot of last year’s team, but the group — particularly the offense — has to improve a good amount for that to matter.
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