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October 2, 2012
Rutgers was dealt a blow to the defensive line this week when it learned that starting defensive tackle Isaac Holmes would be out for the season. That loss will now cause some players to do some shuffling on the defensive line.
"Ike Holmes is going to be out for the season," head coach Kyle Flood said after today's practice. "His wrist injury is a little bit more serious than we had expected initially so we're disappointed that has happened to him. He's had a nice year for us."
Holmes, a fourth-year junior, has registered nine tackles through four games with 1.5 TFLs. He has also disrupted quite a few plays, ones that do not show up on the stat sheet.
Holmes' loss will move Scott Vallone back to nose tackle while Flood looks to fill out a rotation at the 3-technique.
"Now at the nose, Scott will take some reps at the nose, we're working [Kenneth] Kirksey at the nose," Flood said. "We've been working [Michael] Larrow at the nose. We have a couple of guys in there working."
True freshman Darius Hamilton will remain at the 3-technique and Jamil Merrell has also been getting some work at the position according to Flood. And even though Vallone will be playing at the nose tackle spot, he is also expected to slide back to the 3-technique.
"He's also done a really good job at 3-technique so we don't want to completely take him away from that spot either," Flood said of Vallone.
To add to the losses, it looks like Rutgers could continue to be without Al Page for the remainder of the season as he continues to suffer from a lower leg injury.
"I don't know if we expect Al Page back," Flood said. "It's certainly longer than we hoped already and we're exploring a couple of different options."
Injuries to the defensive line have plagued this Rutgers team since the summer when redshirt freshman defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson was lost for the season in training camp with a broken bone in his foot.
But where one door of opportunity closes, another opens.
"Other players have to step up and as they step on the field they become the starters," Flood said. "And all the standards and expectations for our starters are embodied by them now."
Vallone remains a permanent fixture on the defensive line and will start his 43rd consecutive game against UConn on Saturday. In addition to those duties, he's also helped Holmes try to make it through what is a disappointing time.
"He was down about it. It's hard because we're 4-0 and doing a lot of good things," Vallone said. "He was playing well, really well. A lot of my production in terms of quarterback hits and stuff, I correlate to Ike having a good year. His loss is definitely acknowledged. I just try to keep him up, but it's hard. I've never been through it but I know it's hard."
Rutgers currently boasts the No.1 rush defense in the country and Holmes was a contributing factor toward that national ranking. Now, the Scarlet Knights will look to their depth to continue their impressive run on the defensive side of the football.
"I feel sorry for Ike because he was having such a good year," said senior safety Duron Harmon. "But at the end of the day, that happens in college football. There are a lot of teams that lose starters but I feel that we have a lot of depth up there. People can move around and make plays because I know Mil [Jamil Merrell] is going to 3-tech and V [Scott Vallone] is going to the nose. Those two are capable of having the same presence that Ike and V had in the previous games."