For the first nine games of the season, Jawan Jamison as carried the bulk of the offensive load for Rutgers as its starting tailback. Jamison has averaged 105.8 rushing yards per game in those nine games, but things could change when Rutgers takes the field this Saturday against Cincinnati.
An ankle injury forced Jamison out of last week's game against Army for a series and a half. Although he returned and finished out the game, the injury leaves his status in serious question heading into Saturday's game.
During his weekly press conference this morning, head coach Kyle Flood described Jamison 's chances of playing at 50/50. That would mean sophomore Savon Huggins would step in and take over as the starting tailback.
Huggins is coming off his second busiest game of the season in which he carried 10 times for 33 yards.
"[I'm] very confident that Savon would take the bulk of the carries in the game if Jawan couldn't go," Flood said. "And then after that, you'd see P.J. James, and anything beyond that, we'll have to work out this week, because you don't rep more than three guys. And with Jawan and P.J. taking the reps in practice, we'd have to figure out what the depth would be beyond that. I would be very confident that Savon could take the bulk of the carries and do a good job with us."
This season, Huggins has played in seven games, carrying 52 times for 165 yards while also adding a pair of touchdown runs. Huggins was forced to miss two games due to a lower body injury but Flood has seen a progression in Huggins' play over the course of the entire season.
"He got dinged up. He was out for a little bit," Flood said. "Now that he's back and healthy, I thought he did an excellent job on Saturday of being a decisive runner. I was pleased with the way he ran the ball on Saturday. Like I said, going forward, if Jawan doesn't play this week, we have the confidence that Savon can take the bulk of the carries and be a winning player for us."
Huggins also seems to have the confidence of his teammates.
"Savon's a great back and he's more than capable of doing the job," said quarterback Gary Nova. "Obviously not having Jawan is a huge part of this offense but I have confidence in Savon."
Last season, Huggins was just getting his feet wet at the college level and finished with an average of only 2.6 yards per carry. This season, just as he showed in the second half against Army, he appears to be finding more of a rhythm.
"Definitely, the more carries I get, the better I get," Huggins said. "Everything starts to slow down for me. I can start to see the whole a lot quicker. It's just a lot better for me."
Jamison has carried the ball almost four times as much as Huggins this season, totaling 214 carries thus far. However, Huggins has done what he could even when he was forced to watch Jamison from the sidelines.
"I'm taking mental reps when I'm not in and cheering on the defense," Huggins said. "I think we do a good job on both sides of the ball with the guys that are not in."