The few left in the stands for the final play of Rutgers’ third straight loss saw the Scarlet Knights sink even deeper into a state of emergency. Coach Kyle Flood and Rutgers are losers of five out of six, and continue to look for answers to the same questions.
In what should have been an easy win against nine-loss Connecticut team, Rutgers spent the final seconds of a 28-17 loss embarrassing itself with a failed circus play that would have meant nothing if successful.
“It’s OK to be frustrated,” Flood said. “We’re frustrated. I think that whole locker room is frustrated right now. I think the key to moving the team forward in the big picture is to make sure that frustration doesn’t turn into discouragement.”
Making a quarterback change does nothing to fix a defense, and Rutgers learned that first hand in the latest in a series of ugly losses.
Connecticut red-shirt Casey Cochran entered Saturday with underwhelming numbers in four career games. Cochran left as the latest to look like a Heisman candidate against the worst statistical defense in school history.
Cochran went 25-for-33 passing as the latest quarterback to have a breakout game.
“It piles up after a while,” said linebacker Kevin Snyder. “And a lot of times we had people in position, but we just couldn’t get off the field on third down. That’s kind of been our story for the past couple games, just not going able to get off the field when we have the opportunity to.”
The Rutgers nightmare continued defensively in the loss, with Connecticut consistently finding enormous holes in the zone. After the 311 passing yards allowed to a two-win Connecticut team, Rutgers (5-6, 2-5) allowed its eighth quarterback of the season to exceed 300.
“It is frustrating because we keep seeing the same thing showing up over and over again,” said freshman linebacker Steve Longa. “You want to ask, ‘what am I doing wrong?’ What am I doing that’s not working? So you get frustrated.”
Chas Dodd got the start at quarterback, but the change in styles did little to kick start the offense. Dodd completed less than half of his passes, and threw two late interceptions when Rutgers needed a big play.
The lone touchdown pass of the game came from senior J.T. Tartacoff to tight end Tyler Kroft on a fake field goal.
Flood and Rutgers have one final opportunity to become bowl eligible, hosting South Florida Dec. 7 in the regular-season finale. After losing five out of six, frustration has set in.
“You get frustrated because there’s something wrong that we’re doing,” Longa said.. “There’s something that we’re not doing right. We have to own up to our mistakes, and that comes with us players.”