At Monday’s game week press conference for Michigan State, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano discussed the health status of two key offensive starters. Wide receiver Bo Melton left Saturday’s game against Ohio State with a shoulder injury while left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal exited early and was seen wearing a boot on his left foot on the sidelines in the second half.
“They’re both banged up,” Schiano said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to go Saturday. We’re going to have to wait and see. They’re getting treatment and hopefully they’ll be good.”
The fact that neither player was declared out for an extended period of time is obviously a positive. Beyond that and whether they could actually play this weekend remains to be seen.
Melton leads Rutgers with 24 catches, 253 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns this season. He had totaled almost a third of the team’s receptions and receiving yards after the first four games. Melton left in the first quarter without a catch against Ohio State and did not return. It snapped his 25 game streak of at least one reception and 14 game streak with at least three catches.
Last fall, the fifth year senior broke out with team highs of 47 catches, 638 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores and returned a punt for another. The captain has started 36 games and played in all 50 contests that he has been eligible for in his Rutgers career. Melton was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List before the season and was a Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media last fall. He is ninth in school history with 133 career receptions and has been a major factor for the Scarlet Knights under offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson. Any time he misses will be a significant loss.
O’Neal has started over a dozen games in his career after playing immediately as a true freshman in 2018. The fourth year junior has been a key part of the offensive line in his time on the banks before leaving the Ohio State game after the first series. His experience and ability will both be sorely missed if he can’t go on Saturday. He was named an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection by the media last season.
Both Melton and O’Neal were listed as starters on the Rutgers depth chart released on Monday prior to Saturday’s game against Michigan State.
Melton’s backup is listed as Josh Youngblood, who caught a 12 yard touchdown pass late in the game against Ohio State. The transfer from Kansas State hasn’t made much of an impact this season but could see a bigger opportunity against the Spartans if Melton doesn’t play. Other key receivers could step up as well. Aron Cruickshank is second on the team with 17 receptions for 206 yards and one touchdown. Shameen Jones and Brandon Sanders are the only other receivers with double digit receptions with 11 apiece.
Matt Rosso is listed as O’Neal’s backup and has played in three games this season, including against Ohio State. However, Brendan Bordner has started at both tackle spots this season, including on the left side against Delaware. The Rutgers coaching staff has mixed and matched along the offensive line all season so they have multiple options to replace O’Neal if he can’t go on Saturday.