One year ago, Rutgers visited Maryland in College Park to close out the regular season. The Big Ten newcomers had surprised the rest of the conference with successful seasons by both the Scarlet Knights and the Terps. What followed was a game for the ages, where Rutgers mounted a 25-point comeback, outscoring the Terps 24-3 in the second half for the biggest comeback in program history.
This year, the contest between Rutgers (4-7) and Maryland (2-9) isn't as exciting.
Both teams have had disastrous seasons, with off-the-field issues and on-the-field underperformance plaguing Rutgers, and a 2-1 start followed by an eight-game losing streak sinking Maryland. This Saturday, the two teams meet at High Point Solutions Stadium, and while this is the end of the road for Maryland, Rutgers is still clinging to hopes of a bowl bid. Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's game.
Yesterday's injury report was a doozy, and I wrote about it in detail right here.
Steve Longa's (lower body) inclusion was the biggest takeaway. Longa was probable for last week's game against Army, but ended up not playing. For Maryland, he is questionable. Longa is eligible to declare for next year's NFL Draft, so Rutgers fans will hope Longa can give it a go in what could be his last game for the Scarlet Knights.
A couple starting defensive backs are also uncertain for Saturday's game. CB Blessuan Austin (upper body) and SS Kiy Hester (lower body) are both questionable. The Rutgers secondary may continue to be a liability, as SS Davon Jacobs (upper body) has already been ruled out.
Rutgers' offensive line is still banged up, with C Derrick Nelson and LG Dorian Miller both questionable with upper body injuries. Against Army, RG Chris Muller moved to center, while Zack Heeman and Marcus Applefield started at LG and RG, respectively. The makeshift line looked surprisingly strong against Army, as Rutgers averaged 6.9 YPC on designed runs.
Here's a look at the big names on this week's injury report.
* SS Davon Jacobs (upper body)
* RB Desmon Peoples (upper body)
* WR John Tsimis (lower body)
* WLB Steve Longa (lower body)
* CB Blessuan Austin (upper body)
* SS Kiy Hester (lower body)
* C Derrick Nelson (upper body)
* LG Dorian Miller (upper body)
* WR Leonte Carroo (lower body)
* WR Janarion Grant (lower body)
* LT Keith Lumpkin (upper body)
* RG Chris Muller (lower body)
* MLB Kaiwan Lewis (upper body)
On Monday, Flood spoke to the media about Saturday's game against Maryland. Here are the highlights.
* Flood begins by saying it's an exciting week and a special opportunity to honor the outgoing seniors in front of the home crowd on Saturday.
* He praises Maryland's run defense that gives up less than four yards per carry, and singles out Maryland RB Brandon Ross, K Brad Craddock and KR Will Likely as some of Maryland's best weapons.
* Flood says the seniors will not be carried off the field in the final practice of the week, as they never carry seniors off during the regular season.
* He points out that he has been with some of these seniors, including Carroo, Lumpkin and Kyle Federico their entire careers, so it will be a special senior day for him.
* A reporter notes that Josh Hicks is listed at RB on the depth chart after starting at safety last week. Flood says as of now, Hicks will return to offense against Maryland, but that could change depending on who is available on Saturday.
* Flood is asked about the recruitment of Lumpkin, and Flood says he saw how great of an athlete he is when he was playing basketball in high school. He says during his junior year of high school, he really hit the weights and started to look like a football player. He notes that Lumpkin and Pedro Sosa are the only three-year starters at LT since he has been there, and calls them both really good football players.
* A reporter asks if Najee Clayton will get the start at SS if Hester can't play. Flood names Saquan Hampton and Anthony Cioffi as guys they have back there, and they'll focus on "putting the pieces in the best places to give us the best opportunity to be 1-0."
* Flood says Lumpkin and Muller have been big parts of the development of younger guys like Heeman and Applefield.
* Flood is asked about the PSA he was featured in during the Nebraska game that caused fans in attendance to boo. Flood says the PSA is a tremendous message about not drinking and driving. He doesn't really address the boos that were directed towards him.
* A reporter says that when coming to the Big Ten, Flood focused on both size and athleticism on the offensive line, and asks how much of a model that is for what he wants to see at that position. Flood says Lumpkin is probably the best example of that, with Heeman following in his footsteps.
* Flood says Carroo comes to work everyday with a lot of energy. He is proud of how Carroo has handled himself despite dealing with some injuries. He considers Carroo one of the best Rutgers wide receivers of all time, up there with the likes of Mohamed Sanu, Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood.
* When asked about what the practice schedule is like during Thanksgiving week, Flood says they will practice early enough on Thursday for players that live locally to spend the holiday with their families. For the players who live further away, he says some players will spend Thanksgiving with a teammate or coach's family. He says they're always welcome to spend the holiday with him, too.
* A reporter asks if Hayden Rettig could see any playing time against Maryland. Flood simply replies, "Chris is our starting quarterback."
* A reporter notes that P Tim Gleeson is not listed as one of the seniors being honored. Flood points out Gleeson has another year of eligibility, so they'll figure out how they will handle that during the week.
* Saturday will be the 12th time Rutgers and Maryland have met, and just the second time they have met in the Big Ten. The teams first faced off in 1920, a 6-0 Rutgers win.
* While Maryland holds a 6-5 advantage in the series, Rutgers has won the last two meetings in 2014 and 2009.
* Maryland's only wins this season have come against Richmond and South Florida, both back in September. While they have losses to teams like Bowling Green and Indiana, they also have losses to much tougher competition, including West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
* Rutgers is set to honor 11 outgoing seniors prior to Saturday's game. The list includes WR Leonte Carroo, RB Paul James, LT Keith Lumpkin, SLB Quentin Gause, MLB Kaiwan Lewis, DE Djwany Mera, K Kyle Federico, P Joey Roth, FB Sam Bergen, K Chris Gough and OL Bryan Stonkus.
* Rutgers is still very much alive in the hunt for a bowl berth. Only 71 out of 80 possible teams have reached the necessary six wins, and if not enough teams reach six wins at season's end, the NCAA will fill the remaining spots with five-win teams based on APR, which would put Rutgers near the top of the list.
* The following teams are one win away from bowl eligibility: Nebraska, Indiana, Virginia Tech, Washington, Missouri, San Jose State, Minnesota, Illinois, Old Dominion, East Carolina, Buffalo, Kentucky, South Alabama and Tulsa. Only South Alabama has more than one game left on their schedule.
How will the secondary and offensive line hold up despite the injuries? Which seniors are you most looking forward to seeing honored? Can Rutgers sneak into a bowl game? Sound off in the comments below!