Inside Rutgers' game-winning blocked kick against Michigan
PISCATAWAY — Before Kemoko Turay could make the game-saving play that preserved Rutgers' first Big Ten victory against Michigan, Rutgers' coaching staff had to settle on a field goal block formation.
It chose "house", an alignment that pitted 6-foot-6 Turay and Carlton Agudosi two yards in front of the line of scrimmage with everyone else on the ball.
"It was either going to go my way or his way," Turay said Saturday night. "I did it before, so I knew the scheme a little bit to the kicking. I fixed myself and jumped as high as I can."
Michigan kicker Matt Wile faced a 56-yard field goal, so Rutgers knew he had to lower his trajectory to add more distance.
Turay and Agudosi lined up about head up with Michigan's long snapper, charging forward two steps on the snap before replicating their best vertical jumps. Wile's attempt with about three minutes left found Turay's left hand.
"I knew I was going to block it," said Turay, who said his high school track experience as a jumper was transferable. "I had faith in myself. I said to myself I just had to jump as high as I can. I was kind of head up with the center. We do this every day in practice."
Before Wile's late-game attempt, Rutgers called a timeout. Some of its players couldn't help but think back to their Big Ten opener, when a final Penn State drive resulted in a crushing loss.
But soon they were back to talking scheme, ready for the most important play most had ever been a part of.
"We went over it. (Defensive coordinator Joe) Rossi made the call," safety Johnathan Aiken said. "We went over what everybody had. We couldn't repeat that."
Back on the sideline, head coach Kyle Flood didn't allow himself a chance to appreciate the play until he knew the game was in hand.
"We were fortunate that the players executed exactly how we wanted them to in terms of timing the jumps," Flood said. "And then Kemoko and Carlton can both get up there pretty good. ... When we got to the point where I knew we could take a knee, it's a little overwhelming. I think I would be disingenuous to tell you it's not."