It's game week, and the two-deep was released without many surprises. Here's a look at where the depth chart stands as Rutgers takes flight to Fresno:
|LT||Keith Lumpkin||Bryan Leoni|
|LG||Kaleb Johnson||Antwan Lowery|
|C||Betim Bujari||Dallas Hendrikson|
|RG||Andre Civil||Chris Muller|
|RT||Taj Alexander||Chris Fonti|
|QB||Gary Nova||Chas Dodd|
|RB||Savon Huggins||Paul James|
|FB||Michael Burton||Sam Bergen|
|WR||Brandon Coleman||Ruhann Peele|
|WR||Quron Pratt||Leonte Carroo|
|TE||Paul Carrezola||Tyler Kroft|
Right guard is the lone position on either offense or defense to have a different starter since the beginning of training camp. Not very many surprises here as the two-deep is more experienced with junior players and no freshman cracking the backup spots. Offensive line actually has a good amount of depth for the season, with Antwan Lowery ready to fill in for either guard spot and Chris Muller waiting in the wings for his chance to start.
Depending on Kroft's health during the season, it's more than likely we'll see one of the freshmen tight ends get some playing time, even if both Paul and Tyler remain healthy. Pray that Michael Burton has a long and prosperous season - fullback is a big factor in the RU offense. Wide receiver will be very interesting to watch. It always seemed as if Rutgers did not meet expectations when it came to the wideouts, considering all of the raw talent on hand. Leonte Carroo seems like the real deal though, and it's entirely possible he will be a starting WR by season's end.
|DE (R)||Marcus Thompson||David Milewski -OR- Quanzell Lambert|
|NT||Isaac Holmes||Kenneth Kirksey|
|DT||Darius Hamilton||Daryl Stephenson -OR- Sebastian Joseph (Fr.)|
|DE (E)||Jamil Merrell||Djwany Mera|
|WLB||Kevin Snyder||Davon Jacobs|
|MLB||Steve Longa||L.J. Liston (Fr.)|
|SLB||Jamal Merrell||Quentin Gause|
|CB||Gareef Glashen||Nadir Barnwell (Fr.)|
|FS||Jeremy Deering||Tejay Johnson|
|SS||Lorenzo Waters||Johnathan Aiken|
|CB||Ian Thomas||Lewis Toler|
Coach Jim Panagos should a lot of fun this year, because the defensive line is loaded with depth and talent. Seniors Marcus Thompson and Jamil Merrell should bolster a unit that lacked a nasty pass rush a season ago, while Darius Hamilton continues to develop into a 3-technique monster. The line most likely suffered due to losing Isaac Holmes during the Arkansas game, but he healthy and ready to go. If he does need a spell, the coaches are very confident in Kenneth Kirksey to fulfill the role of nose tackle. The rest of the front seven should be stellar, with Snyder ready for a breakout year. Things do get iffy once you get to the backup linebackers, however. A freshman and a converted safety with no game experience could spell trouble if either is called upon.
All eyes will be in the defensive backfield. It will be very interesting to watch the free safety position. Both the starter and the backup were converted from other positions (from the offense in the case of Deering). The coaches haven't had much to say about them during training camp, which I usually see as a good sign. Graduate transfer Lew Toler still hasn't overtaken redshirt freshman Ian Thomas, who was converted to CB from WR during last season's bowl practice. Toler has a ridiculous amount of experience and had a former relationship with defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, so I take it as a complement to Thomas' ability to hold onto the starting spot.
|P||Nick Marsh||Joseph Roth|
|K||Kyle Federico||Nick Borgese|
|KOS||Nick Marsh||Kyle Federico|
|PR||Quron Pratt||Janarion Grant|
|KR||Jeremy Deering, Janarion Grant||Leonte Carroo, Paul James|
Nick Marsh should be an upgrade over Justin Doerner, which in turn will help take the pressure off of the defense. No changes in the kicking game, as Federico and Borgese are both competent kickers who fail to inspire complete confidence if the game was on the line. If Janarion Grant can get some looks at punt returner, it's possible we may have more than just a fair catch fest every time Rutgers receives a boot.
With little changes made since training camp, I am encouraged that the Scarlet Knights have a chance for a special season this year. A navigable schedule with plenty of talent will keep the BCS bowl hopes alive. How do you feel about the depth chart as kickoff looms? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.