Indiana Daily Student

The Other Sideline: Meet Rutgers before it plays Indiana football in Bloomington

<p>Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley looks for open receiver against Michigan State on Oct. 16, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana kicks off against Rutgers at noon Saturday in Bloomington.</p>

Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley looks for open receiver against Michigan State on Oct. 16, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana kicks off against Rutgers at noon Saturday in Bloomington.

The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Indiana football welcomes Rutgers on Saturday, still looking for its first Big Ten win of the season.

Rutgers, who is 4-5 on the season and 1-5 in the conference, lost last week to No. 20 Wisconsin, 52-3, and is looking for its third road win of the year.

Before the game, the Indiana Daily Student spoke to Dylan McCoy, an associate sports editor at The Daily Targum, to preview the matchup.

IDS: How is Rutgers preparing for Indiana this week?

McCoy: For Rutgers, it’s less of preparing for an opponent and it’s more of they need to get themselves ready for the game to be able to scheme correctly. 

They’re also dealing with a lot of injuries. Junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank is out for the season after last week — he got injured on a kickoff return. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral had to leave the game last week. There’s a lot of questions surrounding this team. Ultimately, I think they just want to play their brand of football.

IDS: What are Rutgers’ team strengths?

McCoy: The most apparent strength is special teams. Senior punter Adam Korsak has won the Ray Guy Punter of the Week Award three times this year. He’s really been one of the biggest parts of Rutgers playing well this season the way he’s able to flip the field and really make it hard for the other team to get down the field.

Another one of the strengths for the Scarlet Knights on offense is their running back play. Junior Isaih Pacheco has had a pretty good season. Kyle Manunguy is a freshman. He has really been impressing this year. 

IDS: What is Rutgers going to do to bounce back from the Wisconsin loss?

McCoy: One of their biggest problems this year has been the secondary. The secondary really needs to be better. It gave up 275 passing yards to a Wisconsin team that passes the ball maybe 10 times a game.

The passing game needs to be a little bit improved. Vedral has done an admirable job trying to lead this team this year, but he has a lot of flaws as a quarterback. They’re pretty apparent. He misses a lot of throws. 

IDS: What does Indiana need to do to beat Rutgers?

McCoy: Indiana’s biggest chance to beat Rutgers is utilizing the pass game. That’s been Rutgers’ biggest weakness this year. I think the running game is something Rutgers does have a chance to defend.

On defense, if Indiana can stop the run game, they're really going to make it hard for Rutgers to win. Rutgers is not a team that can throw the ball 60 yards down the field and score. 

IDS: This is a battle of the Big Ten bottom dwellers, who do you think comes out on top?

McCoy: I’m going to say Rutgers and I know that’s weird. They have shown they can bounce back this season, and I think they’re going to play a gritty, aggressive brand of football. It’s going to be 19-14.

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