With Rutgers football facing serious off-the-field turmoil, the team faces its most pivotal challenge yet as they leave the friendly confines of High Point Solutions Stadium for a road matchup with Penn State. A win could, at least temporarily, alleviate the mass hysteria surrounding the program. A loss could just perpetuate the downward spiral. Here's everything you need to know as the Scarlet Knights prepare for Penn State under the lights of Beaver Stadium.
I wrote about the injury report in full yesterday, which you check out here. The biggest takeaway is that defensive tackle Darius Hamilton is out for Saturday's game. A pass rush that struggled mightily against Washington State will continue to be without its best player, as Hamilton's return date is still anyone's guess.
Here are the most notable names from this week's injury report:
* Defensive tackle Darius Hamilton (lower body)
* Running back Desmon Peoples (upper body)
* Running back Paul James (lower body)
* Defensive end Kemoko Turay (upper body)
* Wide receiver John Tsimis (lower body)
Here are the highlights from Kyle Flood's game week press conference on Monday.
* Flood begins by congratulating Janarion Grant on being named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, saying the ability to score on special teams will make them a better team.
* Flood says the team is turning the page to Penn State, and praises their defensive line. Specifically, he calls defensive tackle Anthony Zettel "as good a player as there is in college football."
* When a reporter begins to ask about the Leonte Carroo situation, Flood interrupts him and requests the media to ask football questions first.
* Flood says he has seen Penn State run the football in a lot of ways. He singles out Brandon Polk as a "dynamic player."
* He says it won't be easy to block Zettel, so Rutgers will need to double team him at times while also winning some one-on-ones against him.
* Flood points out Christian Hackenberg is great at delivering the ball even against tough coverage, so getting pressure on him is a must.
* Flood says the team will have to get the ball to Grant more in Carroo's absence. Even if Grant sees more time at receiver, his role on special teams will not be diminished.
* When asked who could step up in Carroo's absence, Flood mentions Grant, Andre Patton and Tsimis could see bigger roles on Saturday. He says Carlton Agudosi's role will increase, and Vance Matthews' could too.
* Flood reveals he consulted with Julie Hermann before suspending Carroo indefinitely.
* Flood will not speak about Carroo's explanation of the incident, saying it was a personal conversation.
* When asked why he suspended Carroo immediately instead of letting the legal process play out like in other situations, he replies, "I think I'll defer that question until you get a statement from the university or a statement from the athletic department."
* Flood admits everything ultimately reflects on him, but he is comfortable with the high quality of the players in his locker room.
* A reporter asks about the impact off-field incidents have on recruiting, and Flood replies he is very proud of his recruits and is confident the recruits and their families are still comfortable with the program.
* Flood says he doesn't anticipate a change in Carroo's status "as of right now", and won't know much more until he has more details.
* Finally, Flood is asked if he has received any assurance that he will be coaching on Saturday night. He replies it isn't fair to answer that since he hasn't received any contact about that.
* It's no secret Penn State has dominated the series against Rutgers, holding a 23-2 advantage. For what it's worth, both of Rutgers' wins in the series have come on the road at Beaver Stadium.
* Rutgers will be looking to record 400 yards of offense for a fourth straight game after recording 402 against Washington State.
* One bright spot for the Rutgers offense through two games has been their red zone efficiency. The Scarlet Knights have scored in all eight trips to the red zone this season.
What do you think? Does Rutgers have a chance against Penn State, despite all the off-fied distractions? Sound off in the comments below!