There is no practice today as the players are resting and preparing for the first scrimmage of training camp tomorrow afternoon. Here are five questions that should be answered in varying degrees from tomorrow's scrimmage.
Running Back Rotation
Robert Martin and Desmon Peoples are not expected to play due to injuries. Paul James, Josh Hicks and Justin Goodwin have gotten the majority of the carries in camp thus far. Transfer Greg Jones has been a good surprise in camp as well, adding even more depth to the deepest position group on the team. Above all, how Paul James performs in his biggest test back from injury is a key question for this offense. All reports so far have been James is responding well and is at full speed. As good as this group of backs are, James has proven he can perform at another level and has literally carried this team on his back at times. If he plays well tomorrow, it will be confirmation he is on his way to starting the season in his rightful position as the top running back. If Rutgers has a special season, James will be a major reason why.
Offensive Line Rotation
There has been a lot praise and mention in the media about the play of Dorian Miller. It appears he has taken the lead at left guard next to line anchor and left tackle Keith Lumpkin. Derrick Nelson is still pushing to be the starting center, which would leave Chris Muller at right guard. That is preferred, leaving Muller in the position he started at all of last season. JJ Denman started camp as the starting right tackle. There has been a lot of concern having to replace three starters on the line, but there is a lot of talent in this group. While Flood has indicated it's possible seven lineman will play regularly during the season, it would obviously be preferred if these five can solidify their status at their positions and gel as a unit. How they play tomorrow will be another step in answering that question.
Secondary Depth Chart
There is a lot of competition in this position group, with youth and experience mixed together. True freshman Blessuan Austin and redshirt freshman Isaiah Wharton have performed well in camp so far, displaying length and athleticism. Ruhaan Peele has adjusted well to his switch from receiver according to reports. There has not been much news in regards to the play of Dre Boggs. Anthony Cioffi is battling Delon Stephenson for the starting spot at free safety. Kiy Hester is battling Davon Jacobs for the starting spot at strong safety. Regardless, all of them will have their opportunities throughout the season, especially if Barnwell is ineligible. Tomorrow will be a key day for all of them.
We knew about Martin and Peoples working their way back, as well as Captain Darius Hamilton sitting out and walking with a knee brace. Details have been scarce, but there has been no indication of any long term concerns. However, Chris Muller, Kemoko Turay, John Tsmis and Nadir Barnwell did not practice in the afternoon session. Flood referenced Monday's injury report as to when an update of status will be provided. It's not uncommon for key veterans to rest here and there through camp, so perhaps they were getting a reprieve from having a second practice of the day in ninety degree plus heat. Regardless, tomorrow's injury report and whether any of these players participate in the scrimmage will be a key storyline. Regarding Barnwell's status on being academically eligible for this season, here is his interview with Keith Sargeant from today.
Chris Laviano or Hayden Rettig? That is the question everyone is asking and it's a fascinating one. Our comment section has been rabid looking for answers. Although Flood has not commented much as of yet, it does sound that at a minimum Rettig has shaken at least some of the rust he showed in the spring. Laviano had the edge in the spring after his experience in the program led to a better performance. However, Rettig is the consensus 4-star recruit who transferred from LSU and has the golden arm. If Rettig has become more comfortable allowing his natural talent to come through, it should be his job for the taking. It seems like whatever has happened the first week of camp, it's close enough that tomorrow's scrimmage and subsequent two or three practices will decide who becomes the starter. Flood originally said he would take seven to ten days to make a decision. If one outperforms the other tomorrow, they will certainly have the upper hand.
Here are some quotes and video from today's media day:
McDaniels: "In any offense, you are going to lean on the strongest points of your personnel. No question that our RBs are a strong point."— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015
DC Joe Rossi wouldn't commit to using Kemoko Turay as an every down DE. Reiterated he'd use them when they think he can make an impact.— Garrett Stepien (@GarrettStepien) August 16, 2015
Rossi On Kemoko Turay "There's not many people on the planet that have his gift to rush the passer." #RFootball— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015
Rossi on Year Two in @B1Gfootball "It gives you perspective on the teams your going to see and how you have to make adjustments."— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015
Rossi: "In the secondary we have a mix of young guys as well as some older guys that have played. Our experience at safety will help us."— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015
"Paul James is 1 of the best examples we have of the type of players we have in our program in terms of overcoming adversity." @KyleFloodRU— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015
"We feel like we have an opportunity this year to take this program to places we've never been before." @KyleFloodRU— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) August 16, 2015