Rejoice, Rutgers fans! It's Game Week! The wait is almost over, as this Saturday the Scarlet Knights host Norfolk State in the season opener. Here's everything you need to know as Rutgers gets ready to host the Spartans.
As Andy Egan discussed earlier today, the Week 1 injury report is a long one. 16 players have already been declared out for Saturday's game, including two of the defense's big names, DT Darius Hamilton and SS Kiy Hester.
Rutgers' injury reports tend to be very vague, so all we know is that Hamilton is dealing with a "lower body injury" that has kept him limited in practice for a few weeks. When speaking to the media today, Flood said he expects Hamilton to play this season, but there is currently no timetable for his return, and he is week-to-week for now. Hopefully Flood is just being coy, and the All-Big Ten defensive tackle's absence is short.
Hester, also out with a lower body injury, will have to wait at least another week to make his collegiate debut. The Scarlet Knights' defensive backfield is talented, but inexperienced, so Hester is missing the chance to get some valuable snaps.
CB Nadir Barnwell (upper body injury) is also out, but given the uncertainty surrounding his academic eligibility, he wasn't a lock to play anyway.
Offensively, Rutgers is a little healthier, with WR John Tsimis (lower body) and RB Desmond Peoples (upper body) being the most prominent names that will be held out on Saturday.
DE Kemoko Turay (upper body) is listed as questionable, but Flood said during his press conference he expects Turay to play against Norfolk State. CB Dre Boggs (upper body) is also questionable, but Flood noted he will start Saturday.
Today, Flood spoke to the media for the first time since breaking camp. Here are the highlights from today's press conference.
* Flood says he expects a challenging game Saturday, praising Norfolk State's defense.
* When asked if he expects to lead the team out of the tunnel Saturday, he replies he has "no reason to believe" he won't. Regarding the investigation, he adds that his "portion of the University process" ended on Monday, and will have no further comment until there is a resolution.
* Flood praises CB Blessuan Austin, and says he's excited to see what he has seen in practice materialize in game action.
* When asked about the quarterback situation, Flood reiterated Hayden Rettig will start Saturday's game. He will evaluate Rettig's first-half performance before deciding how to proceed.
* While he expects to use more than five offensive linemen against Norfolk State, he mentions that LG Dorian Miller, C Derrick Nelson and RT J.J. Denman have established themselves as starters alongside LT Keith Lumpkin and RG Chris Muller.
* Flood confirms Paul James will start at running back "on paper", but expects Josh Hicks, Robert Martin and Justin Goodwin to all impact the game. He considers all four of them to be "starters."
* Echoing his statement about the offensive linemen, he says MLB Kaiwan Lewis has established himself as a starter, but Isaiah Johnson will see some playing time too on Saturday.
Ignore my lame pun and check out these other notes to keep an eye on regarding Saturday's game.
* Not only has Rutgers never lost to Norfolk State, they've never even allowed a point against the Spartans. The Scarlet Knights are 3-0 against Norfolk State, and have outscored them by a combined 128-0 since their first meeting in 2007.
* A reminder that WR Leonte Carroo, QB Chris Laviano, CB Ruhann Peele, LB Kevin Marquez and P Tim Gleeson will miss the first half of Saturday's game after being suspended for a curfew violation.
* Despite the suspension, Carroo will have a chance to make history against the Spartans. His next receiving touchdown will be the 20th of his career, tying Rutgers' all-time record, also held by Brandon Coleman and Tim Brown. If he makes two scoring grabs on Saturday, he'll stand alone as the new record holder.
Stay with On The Banks all week as we get you ready for the 2015 season! Just four more days!