How Rutgers Was Able To Upset Arkansas
NEW YORK– By Jason Greenfield
On Saturday night, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights got a huge victory over an SEC powerhouse Arkansas Razorbacks. After this victory, Rutgers improved its record to 4-0 and is ranked 23rd in the nation for the first time since 2009. There were three key reasons why Rutgers was able to defeat such a quality club.
Reason 1: Rutgers’ defense- The Rutgers defense had a solid game, and was able to hold the 2011 SEC total offense and scoring leader to only 25 points. The D even shut Arkansas out in the 2nd quarter and held them to three points in the 3rd quarter. They were able to turn over Tyler Wilson, one of the best QBs in college football. Wilson, who returned from a concussion this past week, did have a successful passing day (passing for 419 yards), but he did throw two costly picks. Arkansas’ run game was never able to generate momentum, held to under 75 rushing yards. (The only area of concern for Rutgers on defense was the coverage on wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, who had 303 receiving yards and three TDs).
Reason 2: Arkansas Miscues- Rutgers had a some help from Arkansas in a few instances to help ensure their victory. The first big mistake was at the start of the 2nd quarter. Rutgers was about to kick a field goal to make the game 10-3. But before they had a chance to kick the field goal, Arkansas went offside. That penalty gave Rutgers a first down, and the next play Gary Nova threw a TD to running back Jawan Jamison and put Rutgers down three points instead of seven. The other two Arkansas mistakes came from the Razorbacks receivers. The first WR mistake came from Hamilton who could have made his day an all-time great game. Hamilton dropped a nicely thrown pass from Wilson that went past the RU defender. If Hamilton was able to catch the pass, it would have been a guaranteed touchdown considering there were no defenders near him. The other two mistakes came from Arkansas WR Mekale McKay. McKay’s first mistake was when he dropped a pass in the end zone, which was thrown over the Rutgers defender’s head. McKay was all alone in the end zone and dropped the ball. The other McKay mistake was again in the end zone, when McKay ran a lazy route and it looked like he thought he wasn’t involved in the play. Wilson threw it to him and the pass was intercepted.
Reason 3: Gary Nova- Going into this game, the Rutgers QB had a lot of pressure on him. This was the best team he has played, and he was playing them on the road. Going into the game, we knew that Arkansas had some questions in their secondary, and Nova exposed that weakness. He went 25-36 with 397 yards, five TDs and no picks. Nova didn’t only have chemistry with one receiver, eight different receivers had at least one catch, and four different receivers caught TD passes. Nova was the player of the game and outplayed his superior opponent in Tyler Wilson. Whenever Rutgers needed a big play Nova made it happen, especially, in the 4th quarter after Arkansas had two scoring drives. He answered back after Arkansas scored to draw them within eight. Nova led Rutgers down the field, highlighted by a 40 yard pass to Tyler Kroft. Although Nova couldn’t punch it in for a TD, he did give Kyle Federico a very manageable 32 yard field goal, which he missed. The second time was when Arkansas had a huge 80 yard TD following the missed field goal, and made it a two point game. With the pressure on and the crowd going against him, Nova stepped up after a five yard completion on first down and on second down threw a 60 yard TD to Mark Harrison, which effectively ended the game.