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April 20, 2013

Scrimmage Notebook

Rutgers scrimmaged for the second time of the spring inside High Point Solutions Stadium and there were some highs and lows down on the field. Here's a closer look into all of the action.

Ground game grounded
It was a rough day for the running backs as the corps of RU ball carriers failed to pace the offense.

"I think as we go forward, we need to find a running back who can hold onto the ball. All three of our top running backs [Savon Huggins, Desmon Peoples, Dontea Ayres] put the ball on the ground," head coach Kyle Flood said after the scrimmage. "I think we lost one of those fumbles but every time it's on the ground, it's unacceptable. That's my biggest concern at the running back position, we just didn't do a good enough job securing the football."

Concerns also surround the day's rushing numbers as starter Savon Huggins carried 13 times for minus 4 yards. In his two scrimmages, Huggins has 41 carries for 40 yards. Today, Rutgers' top three tailbacks combined to carry 24 times for 17 yards while Peoples was the only to gain positive yards going 9 for 23.

"It's not good enough, I don't think it's good enough right now," Flood said of the running game. "I think in our attempt to build depth, we have so many players playing with the first first group that we're lacking a little bit of continuity on offense."

With Paul James injured and Ayres' status uncertain, Rutgers could be left with two healthy tailbacks for the spring game. Flood mentioned that Justin Goodwin will be arriving at the summer but does not expect to move anyone to tailback this week.

"I don't anticipate any position changes right now. As we evaluate it at the end, maybe. I don't know that I would do it for the last week of spring."

Should a move be made, Delon Stephenson seems like he would be the most likely candidate to switch from cornerback to tailback.

Airing it out
Starting quarterback Gary Nova had another strong day, completing 9-of-12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. One of his three incompletions was due a drop on his receivers' part.

Only two practices remain before the spring game, but Nova isn't ready to just coast through the final week.

"We have two more big practices before the game and we have to take advantage of this next week coming up and obviously have a good spring and go into the summer on a good foot," Nova said.

Making plays
Sophomore wide receiver Leonte Carroo went up and made some plays, using his combination of size and athleticism. Carroo caught three passes for 80 yards and scored a touchdown. He talked about what enables him to make those big-time plays.

"Just my confidence, just my physical attitude. I go out there and I block defenders very hard and that kind of gives me a little cushion as a receiver, because they are too busy peaking and watching me to see if I'm going to block them and then I'm able to run right past them. Or when I catch the ball I'm able to use my speed and my physical ability to make plays."

Rushing at the 'R'
Redshirt sophomore 'rush' defensive end Myles Jackson is finally completely healthy and had one of his best days on the field, finishing the scrimmage with two sacks.

"It's time for me to step us a player, have a bigger role in this program and everything is starting to click real fast," Jackson said following the scrimmage.

Jackson was also in on a number of other plays as he was very active all day.

Building the MIKE
Rutgers' top two middle linebackers have never played a down of college football but redshirt freshman Steve Longa and true freshman Lester Liston both had solid scrimmages.

"[Steve Longa] false started on the first punt, but at middle linebacker he looks good," Flood said. "I think he gets a little bit better each week and probably every day as he gets more reps. And I think Lester Liston has done a good job also. He took a few steps forward today and that will help build some depth."

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