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September 25, 2013For the time being, last Saturday's game against Arkansas closed the window of opportunity for one of the nation's leading rushers. Sophomore running back Paul James went down with a lower leg injury and is out for at least the next two games. Where his window of opportunity has closed, one has opened for another Rutgers running back.
Redshirt freshman Desmon Peoples seems to have been a bit of a forgotten man after earning the most improved offensive player award this past spring.
With James now on the shelf for at least the next two games, Peoples could be a name fans remember in a hurry as the Scarlet Knights will be looking for someone else to carry the load.
Through four games, Rutgers is averaging 176.8 rushing yards per game. James has accounted for 143.3 of those yards.
"I don't think it's ever about one person although I do think PJ did a great job," head coach Kyle Flood said after today's practice. "I thought he did an excellent job of running the football. But I think we have other talented guys at that position."
Junior Savon Huggins will be inserted as the starter and has managed to gain 138 yards on 40 carries this season. If Huggins cannot be effective, Flood could turn to Peoples.
"It's very exciting. I've been waiting for my opportunity this whole time," Peoples said. "I am just happy that it came."
Peoples saw his first collegiate action in game no.2 against Norfolk State when he carried five times for 19 yards.
"It felt good. I always wanted to experience it, so once I got in I got to know what it feels like to be playing in front of the crowd rather than at practice and nobody being there," Peoples said. "It just opens your eyes a little bit and you know what to expect."
Peoples' carries against Norfolk State were his first touches in an actual game in almost two years.
"It was great. It was kind of unexpected to me because I wasn't getting a lot of reps in practice so when my name was called, I was just happy," Peoples said. "And I knew I knew what to do."
Peoples had to do a lot of watching through the first part of the season, but he appears to be taking a selfless approach to the whole ordeal.
"It's not always about you, it's about the team. You can't just get caught up in your emotions," Peoples said. "...I am just always taking mental reps and being there and listening to the play call and watching what the running back in is doing. That is pretty much what I am doing and I am still in my playbook when I'm at home."