Rutgers football had their annual Scarlet-White spring football game earlier today. While the attendance was less than 1/8 what Alabama managed for their version (gee, you think they’re excited about Nick Saban down there?), it was a fun afternoon. The Scarlet team defeated the White team 16-10, a fact that is absolutely useless in projecting how well the team will do in the coming year…but come on, it’s a “game,” you might as well keep score.

Fun aside (and granted, saying “fun aside” is essentially casting aside the whole reason for having this game in the first place), a game like this is a tiny glimpse of a team. First of all, no halfway intelligent team is going to show much of its playbook in an exhibition like this. Outstanding players (like Kenny Britt) can still be picked out even in a spring game situation, but basically any creative wrinkle a team might have is probably not going to come out in a game that doesn’t count in the standings, and it should not.

The second reason spring games aren’t the greatest barometer of what to expect from a team stems from the same idea as the first reason: the fact that these games don’t count. The reason is this: why risk injury to some of your top players? For example, take the guy pictured above, Ray Rice. He’s the best player on Rutgers – legitimate Heisman contender, almost 1,800 yards last year, 20 touchdowns – and he didn’t play. He had minor surgery the day before the game, so obviously he couldn’t get in on the action, but it was an injury he had been playing with all spring and even before. Eric Foster, probably the best defensive player on the team, didn’t play either. He had a minor injury on the last day of practice, but probably nothing that would have kept him out of an actual game. However, it’s hard complain, since the coaches would have to be idiots to risk further injury to guys like this in a meaningless game anyway.

Overall, Mike Teel looked like he was throwing the ball well today, Kordell Young had some good runs but also got stuffed for almost no gain/a loss a little much. Britt is going to be great, Tim Brown will make some big plays, the O-line will be fine and the defense should be as well. It will be interesting to see what happens when the 3/4 of the starting defensive line that sat out the spring game play, as well as to see how the running game as a whole fares this year. Like Schiano predicted, the Scarlet-White game wasn’t pretty, but it was fun, and the number of guys on this team that can make plays is just another indicator of how far the program has come. 

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