Sophomore running back Isaih Pacheco is without a doubt the Scarlet Knights’ best player. When he committed to Rutgers, the Vineland, NJ native was the 9th-ranked recruit in New Jersey and the 16th-ranked running back in the nation, according to 247Sports.
He won the starting spot right off the bat and in 2018 as a true freshman had 111 carries for 551 yards and three touchdowns.
Isaih Pacheco peels off the longest run for Rutgers since it joined the Big Ten, an 84-yard rush, to tie the game up at 7. Holy cow. pic.twitter.com/c1GbNToLqG— Brian Fonseca (@briannnnf) November 10, 2018
This season, he’s No. 6 in the Big Ten with 124 rush attempts, and No. 10 with 547 rushing yards. He leads the Scarlet Knights with six touchdowns and has two 100+ yard games. In general? Not the best statistics. But on this Rutgers’ offense? Pretty dang good.
Unlike, say, Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins who has five games with 20+ rushing attempts or Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor with six games, Pacheco’s only game where he’s been handed the ball 20 times was their season opener against University of Massachusetts. Not only that, but he’s also not a huge threat as a receiver out of the backfield with just nine receptions for 46 yards. All that to say, Rutgers don’t really rely on him as much as they probably should.
Especially considering Rutgers is on its third-string quarterback, Johnny Langan, who—never forget— threw for one lowly passing yard against the Indiana Hoosiers (Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields threw for 199 yards in three quarters against the Hoosiers, but that’s neither here nor there). In Langan’s defense, he struggles as a passer at baseline and his offensive line doesn’t help in the least. The freshman has been sacked fifteen times this year. He’s gone 48-of-89 for 498 yards passing, with three passing touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s ran the ball 92 times for 242 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Why is Rutgers playing their third string QB who can’t pass, you ask? Well, sophomore QB2 Artur Sirtkowski made the decision to sit out and redshirt, while senior QB1 McLane Carter medically retired due to a concussion.
While Langan does have a backup in true freshman Cole Snyder, Rutgers interim head coach Nunzio Campanile said he isn’t quite prepared and they want to preserve his red shirt. I can’t see Snyder’s first collegiate snap being against the No. 1 total defense in the nation—with or without Chase Young.
If they’re smart, the Rutgers will feed Pacheco more than 20 times to, at the very least, beat the 54-point spread against Ohio State on Saturday. After all, the Buckeyes’ defense may be No. 1 in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (126.6) but they’re only ranked No. 8 with 88.2 rushing yards allowed per game. There’s your edge, Rutgers. Take it and run (literally).