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October 28, 2013

The Monday Morning Kickoff

Following an ugly Saturday loss to Houston, there remains plenty to talk about in the Scarlet Nation and The Monday Morning Kickoff gets you caught up on all the latest in the world of Rutgers sports.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)
It was a forgettable homecoming weekend for the Rutgers football team as the Scarlet Knights fell to 4-3 following a 49-14 defeat at the hands of Houston. The big story coming out of the weekend is the open quarterback competition that will take place on the practice field this week between junior Gary Nova and senior Chas Dodd.

"I think going through this week, Gary and Chas will both take reps with the ones and the twos and then we'll make a decision on who is going to start the game a little bit later in the week, probably on Thursday," head coach Kyle Flood said on his Sunday evening conference call.

Nova was ineffective for the second straight week as he now has thrown seven interceptions and one touchdown in his last seven quarters of play. He was benched in favor of Dodd late in the third quarter against Houston.

"I try to prepare every week like as if something like today were to happen or if there was an injury or anything," Dodd said after Saturday's game. "So I am going to keep doing the same thing I've done every week and if my number is called, I plan to be ready."

The Rutgers defense was scorched again as it gave up 49 points to the Houston offense. Coincidentally, that was only the third highest point-total surrendered by RU this season. To make matters worse, RU's depleted secondary may have gotten a little thinner.

Starting strong safety Lorenzo Waters left Saturday's game on the first series with what is believed to be a high ankle sprain and did not return. Next week, the secondary will also be without cornerback Nadir Barnwell, who was suspended one game because of a DWI he received Sunday morning.

Rutgers' next opponent is a 1-7 Temple team, who is playing better football now with true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker running the offense.

"P.J. is a very talented player," Flood said last night. "We knew that when he was in high school over at Elizabeth. He fits very well into their system and their scheme and how they play. He is a tremendous competitor and it's going to provide some challenges both throwing it and running it this week."

Walker threw for 293 yards on 26-of-37 passing to go along with four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 59-49 loss to SMU on Saturday.

Later this morning, Flood will take to the podium for his weekly press conference inside the Hale Center starting at 10:30 a.m. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for live updates as they unfold.

The inside scoop (Rutgers recruiting)
Rutgers added a commitment at a position of need on Thursday evening when Avon (Ct.) Old Farms cornerback Andre Boggs pledged to the Scarlet Knights the same day he received an offer from head coach Kyle Flood.

Rutgers has been in contact with Boggs since his time at Coatesville (Pa.) High School and stayed in contact with him after he enrolled at Avon.

"I kind of knew they were going to offer," Boggs said. "I talked to coach Norries [Wilson] and a few other coaches earlier this week. I kind of had it in my stomach that they were going to offer. Today, I talked to coach Flood. He made me feel wanted and he was very happy when I committed.

"I've been to Rutgers twice. The summer before I went there for a 7-on-7 and we went to the championship. I think Rutgers is a good program."

Boggs was unable to qualify coming out of Coatesville, which caused him to prep. He plans to enroll at Rutgers in January, but must achieve a qualifying test score first.

"They want me to enroll in January but I didn't know how it's going to go," he said. "At first I thought I was being recruited as a receiver but last week they told me they wanted me as a corner. They also said there is a chance to play early."

The Scarlet Knights hosted a bevy of recruits at Saturday's game against Houston, including commitments Jacob Kraut, Lamont Simmons, Zack Heeman, Sidney Gopre and Adonis Jennings.

Kraut, a fullback out of Neptune Beach (Fla.) Fletcher High School and Simmons, a cornerback from Jacksonville's Raines High, came up from the Sunshine state as official visitors.

"It went great. I had a lot of fun with the players and getting to know the guys," Kraut said. "I learned they really do believe in family and that your teammates are your brothers…The [campus environment] is amazing. Everyone is really friendly and wants to be your friend."

In New Jersey, the high school football regular season is winding down, with state playoffs set to begin in a couple of weeks. For an update on how Rutgers' current commitments and recruiting targets fared over the weekend, be sure to check out Scarlet Nation's weekly Recruit Scoop later this afternoon.

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
Football wasn't the only program to host important visitors over the weekend, as a host of basketball prospects took unofficial visits to RU for the football game against Houston. Among them were 2015 Trenton Catholic star Malachi Richardson and 2016 standouts Tyus Battle (Gill St. Bernards), Anthony Cowan (St. John's (D.C.)) and Reggie Gardner (DeMatha).

While Eddie Jordan and staff continue to pursue future Scarlet Knights-the 2015 class is expected to be a large one with many open scholarships at the staff's disposal-the current Rutgers squad continues to prepare for the season opener on Nov 8 against Florida A&M.

Rutgers took on St. Peter's University in a scrimmage yesterday and will host Division II Caldwell College in an exhibition on Friday evening at the RAC.

"I want success starting Sunday," Jordan said at last week's media day. "I want success every time we step on the floor, whether it's improving in practice or winning games. As I said before, winning is always in the equation."

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