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October 29, 2013

Tuesday Notebook: Lots of news in Piscataway

Tuesday's Top Headline:
Ruhann Peele changes positions
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ruhann Peele has moved to cornerback in an effort to help bolster a depleted secondary. Peele is third on the team with 18 receptions and the move generated much of the buzz at Tuesday's practice.

The Scarlet Knights are without three of the top four corners who were on the season's first two-deep-Lew Toler (broken arm), Ian Thomas (left program), and Nadir Barnwell (suspension for DWI arrest).

Head coach Kyle Flood said the plan is for the move to be temporary for just this week's game, but acknowledged there is a chance it could be long-term.

"We'll decide after this week what the long-term implications of that will be but I spoke to Ruhann yesterday and we felt from a skill set and an athletic standpoint that he would be the best option for us to do that," Flood said.

Flood anticipates Peele definitely seeing the field on Saturday but his role in Rutgers' sub packages is yet to be determined.

"He played more safety in high school he told me. I asked him that when I was speaking to him," Flood said. "A little bit of corner. There are so many 7-on-7s at that level now. I think any skill player probably has some experience doing that. If we didn't think he would have some natural ability to do it - certainly he is not going to learn all the finer points of being a corner in one week - we felt like from an athletic standpoint he might have some natural ability to do it. I thought he looked pretty good out there for the first day."

Peele has been through two days of meetings as a cornerback and today was his first time on the practice field at his new position. Coming into the week, Delon Stephenson and Jevon Tyree were listed as the backup corners behind starters Anthony Cioffi and Gareef Glashen.

More Practice News
The chase for the starting quarterback position resumed today with Gary Nova, Chas Dodd and third-stringer Mike Bimonte all seeing action with the first team.

"We actually repped three quarterbacks today and one of the benefits of practicing the way we did was it allowed us to take a few more team reps," Flood said. "Gary (Nova) and Chas (Dodd) both got reps with the ones. Mike got reps with the 1 and 1/2's - there really is no two's at this point. Everybody is getting reps with everybody who is playing in the games--who is a next man-in type of player on the offensive line and running backs. All three got reps; Gary probably got the most, Chas got the next most and Mike got a few as well."

While Bimonte, a redshirt sophomore who has not taken a snap in a game in his career, remains behind Nova and Dodd on the depth chart, today marked was the most meaningful reps he has seen in practice since the season has started.

"Mike and Chas have two of the tougher jobs in football. Mike even tougher than Chas because there are a lot of practices where Mike won't get reps outside of individual 7-on-7," Flood said. "He won't get team reps. The most impressive thing to me is when I see Mike go into the team period today, he knows where to go with the ball. He knows where his eyes should be. He knows what the reads should be. You say you've got to take mental reps. You've got to take reps on film. You've got to watch the other guys practice. You have to do all those things as you are trying to earn your opportunities but he has really done it well which is pleasing to me. It was good to see him out there today."

  • Gary Nova on Ruhann Peele moving to cornerback:
"It says a lot about him that he's willing to do this for the team. Hopefully it's not a permanent thing. But whatever helps the team."

  • Chris Muller on how the team is handling this two-game losing streak:
"I mean, the mood is very upbeat. We just have to look forward and get better. The reasons we lost were because of us. We've got a lot of stats to change around. We've got to be better on third downs and we've just got to progress our football intelligence more."

  • Kyle Flood on starting Andre Civil over Taj Alexander at right tackle:
"I think Andre has given us a consistent game of football. You know how much I value consistency of performance. Certainly we want consistency at a high level but not everybody is capable of the same things. Andre has given us a consistency at right tackle. I think he's playing better. I think he's earned the right, deserved the right to go out and start again. It's not a lack of confidence in Taj. It's more of what I believe Andre has earned and I think the competition has been really good for both those guys."

They said it...
After practice today, Flood addressed the issue that arose at Monday's media availability session when he and Nova appeared to give contradicting statements on the state of the quarterback depth chart. Nova's quotes appeared to indicate that he did not feel there was a quarterback competition and also went against Flood's assertion that he and Dodd split reps equally during Sunday night's practice 

"My understanding was that somebody asked a question about a quarterback competition, which is an expression that I've never used," Flood said. "Every player in the program should come to practice every day with the intention of winning their job. That is a program-wide philosophy. That is not a quarterback position philosophy. We did a 2-minute drill with the ones against the defense. We did not run a second 2-minute drill. I think Gary took most of the reps that he would normally take aside from the 2-minute drill. I think maybe that was the misunderstanding."

Nova declined to clarify his comments when asked about them today.

"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I'm just worried about trying to be prepared for this game and I think today was a good start."

Inside the Numbers

  • Rutgers has six players with 10 or more receptions this season
  • Chris Coyer, who started at quarterback for Temple against Rutgers last year, has 15 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown as an H-back this season
  • Two of Rutgers' top three substitutes at cornerback (Ruhann Peele and Delon Stephenson) are converts from another position
  • Former Rutgers defensive back Abdul Smith is Temple's second-leading tackler with 58 stops

Frosh faces at wide receiver
Even with Peele moving to the defensive side of the ball this week, Rutgers will have three of its most experienced wide receivers ready for action in Brandon Coleman, Leonte Carroo and Quron Pratt. Pratt and Carroo were limited in practice last week due to injury and saw decreased reps in the Houston game but were not on this week's injury report and practiced fully this morning.

Behind that trio, redshirt freshman Carlton Agudosi will look to build on his first career catches, but three true freshmen-Andre Patton, John Tsimis and Janarion

Grant-could all see plenty of time as well.

Patton made his first career start in place of Pratt last week, while Tsimis and Grant each recorded their first two career catches against UH. Flood said he has confidence in all three players.

"I think they can run every route in our offense and I have complete confidence in them that when the ball is thrown to them that they will make the plays," he said. "Those guys are talented football players. We recruited them for a reason. They've worked very hard to put themselves in that position to earn the right to go in on gameday because that's not something we take very lightly and I'm excited to see them take advantage of it."

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