Head coach Chris Ash announced that Justin Goodwin will start at running back for Saturday’s game against Maryland. In his presser today, Ash stated that while Robert Martin is back to being fully healthy, Goodwin has earned the job in his absence.
Justin Goodwin has earned the right to be starting running back. Martin was injured and lost his job. Back to being healthy. #Rutgers— Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy) November 21, 2016
After the Penn State loss on Saturday, I questioned why Martin and Josh Hicks only received two carries each in the game. Credit Ash with explaining why this was the case. However, it’s certainly a bit puzzling after watching Martin perform so well over his career, in which he averages 5.2 yards per carry in his close to three seasons on the banks. Through the 2016 season, Goodwin has averaged 4.0 yards per carry on 108 attempts, while Martin has averaged his usual 5.2 yards per carry in 107 attempts.
Goodwin has played well in Martin’s absence in losses to Minnesota and Indiana, but the past two weeks his production has not been much at all. To be fair, the entire offense has struggled in back to back shutouts. After producing 279 all-purpose yards in two games against the Gophers and Hoosiers, Goodwin has amassed only 47 all-purpose yards in losses to Michigan State and Penn State, despite getting the majority of touches out of the backfield.
Ash deserves the benefit of the doubt here, but after watching Martin and Hicks have a lot of success the previous two seasons, it is surprising and disappointing in their overall production this year, minus the injury and position switch circumstances each has endured. However, the lack of opportunities they’ve had when seemingly available has been the most surprising development of them all. Goodwin is the best receiver out of the backfield of the three, but has been the least productive rushing the ball of the group in his career.
As for quarterback, Ash did say Gio has been battling an injury which has been inhibiting his play as of late. Even so, Gio is still slated to start Saturday in the last game of the season against Maryland. The Terps opened as close to two touchdown favorites in a game they need to win to gain bowl eligibility. It’s been a long season, but Rutgers has an opportunity to end the season on a high note and play spoiler for their Mid-Atlantic neighbor.
QB: Gio Rescigno / Tylin Oden/ Chris Laviano OR Zach Allen
RB: Justin Goodwin / Robert Martin or Josh Hicks
TE: Nick Arcidiacono / Matt Flanagan
WR: Jawuan Harris / John Tsimis
WR: John Tsimis / Vance Matthews
WR: Andre Patton / Carlton Agudosi
LT: Tariq Cole / Zack Heeman
LG: Dorian Miller / Zach Venesky
C: Derrick Nelson / Jonah Jackson
RG: Chris Muller / Marcus Applefield
RT: Kamaal Seymour / J.J. Denman
Notes: Redshirt freshman Jawuan Harris leads the team with 33 receptions and 419 receiving yards on the season. He has 3 receiving touchdowns, which is second to senior Andre Patton, who has 5.
DE: Darnell Davis / Jimmy Hogan OR Ron’Dell Carter
NT: Sebastian Joseph / Kevin Wilkins
DT: Darius Hamilton / Jon Bateky
DE: Julian Pinnix-Odrick /Myles Nash
WLB: Trevor Morris / Eric Margolis
MLB: Deonte Roberts / Kevin Marquez
SLB: Tyreek Maddox-Williams / Ronnie James
CB: Isaiah Wharton / Ross Douglas
FS: Saquan Hampton / Kiy Hester OR K.J. Gray
SS: Anthony Cioffi / Lawrence Stevens
CB: Blessuan Austin / Damon Hayes
Notes: Anthony Cioffi, Saquan Hampton, and Trevor Morris all registered double digit tackles in the loss to Penn State.
K: David Bonagura / Jared Smolar
P: Michael Cintron / Tim Gleeson
LS: Alan Lucy / Matthew Sportelli
Notes: True freshman K.J. Gray recovered the first fumble of his career against Penn State on the opening drive of the game. Unfortunately, Rutgers could not capitalize on the mistake, as kicker David Bonagura missed a 45 yard field goal. He is now 10 for 13 on field goal attempts for the season.