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Rutgers Football: 5 things to watch at Big Ten Media Days

Kyle Flood and Rutgers take the podium on Friday at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, head coach Kyle Flood and Rutgers take the podium in Chicago at the 2015 Big Ten Football Media Days.

The Big Ten Network and ESPNU are providing full coverage of the event with Mike Hall and Glen Mason anchoring the coverage from the BTN Studio. Fans are also encouraged to follow @bigtennetwork, @BTNTomDienhart and @BTNBrentYarina on Twitter for live updates from Chicago.

In a new format, the teams are split up between Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, July 30: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin

Friday, July 31: Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers

From coaching changes to defensive question marks to the quarterback position, let's take a look at the five Rutgers-related topics to watch for on Friday.

What will the offense look like under new OC Ben McDaniels?

For the sixth season in a row, Rutgers enters the year with a new offensive coordinator. McDaniels, the younger brother of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, is an impressive young offensive mind with NFL experience (Broncos and Buccaneers). McDaniels, who played quarterback at Kent State, may favor a pass-heavy attack, but that may be tough to do with this year's team, considering the inexperience at quarterback and the depth and talent at running back.

Can the defense improve?

Last year, the Rutgers defense ranked 13th in the Big Ten and 98th nationally, allowing 442.8 yards per game. Darius Hamilton, Kemoko Turay and Steve Longa all return to give the Knights a formidable front seven, but questions remain in the secondary. Overall, the defense will have to be better than it was a season ago, especially with so many teams in the conference returning offensive firepower.

Who starts at middle linebacker?

One of the biggest questions on the defensive side of the ball is at middle linebacker, where Kevin Snyder leaves big shoes to fill. A pair of transfers, Kaiwan Lewis from South Carolina and juco transfer Isaiah Johnson, appear to be the likely candidates for the role, but both have obstacles to overcome. For Lewis, it's a history of injuries. For Johnson, it's the jump from juco ball to DI. On a positive note, the return of outside linebackers Longa and Quentin Gause should make the job easier for whoever Flood tabs as the starter.

How will Flood handle the stockpile of running backs?

At running back, Flood is blessed with having a long line of talented, experienced backs. The only problem is how Flood will divide the carries. Senior Paul James is at the top of the depth chart, but his recovery from an ACL injury could diminish his playing time in the early-going. That opens up the door for sophomores Robert Martin and Josh Hicks, who both blossomed late last season. Junior Desmon Peoples, a small, shifty third-down back, is another player to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see what Flood has to say about James' recovery as well as the progression of Martin and Hicks have made after having a full year under their belt.

Who is the starting quarterback?

The biggest question of them all. After the spring game, in which Chris Laviano outperformed his counterpart Hayden Rettig, Flood stated that Laviano had the edge. However, Rettig, a heavily-recruited transfer from LSU, has all the makings of a DI quarterback. Flood has stated in the past he prefers to stick with one quarterback, but if neither player establishes himself, Flood could be forced into juggling the two sophomores.

Outside of Rutgers, there are plenty of other big storylines to follow in Chicago. Will Jim Harbaugh provide fireworks in his first media day as Michigan's head coach? How will fellow first-year coaches Mike Riley (Nebraska) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin) fair in the B1G? How does Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany handle hot topics such as freshman eligibility and student-athlete stipends? And, perhaps the biggest questions in all of college football, who is Ohio State's quarterback?

Stay tuned throughout the week for more coverage.