Scrimmage No.1 of the spring is now a thing of the past as the Scarlet Knights convened inside High Point Solutions Stadium today for some live action on the practice field. Here's a deeper look into what took place between the lines.
The team's first scrimmage came on the sixth practice of the year with Rutgers already closing in on the halfway point of spring practice.
"It's always good to get the first scrimmage in because you certainly find out a lot about your team but at the same time you always turn to the next scrimmage to see how fast and how quickly you can improve," head coach Kyle Flood said afterward. "There's a lot of places that we need to improve as a football team right now. There's nothing more valuable to these younger players who have never been in the live fire than to be out here in the stadium on the field. The next time we do it, we'll completely remove the coaches. Today, we semi removed the coaches and that will be a good experience for them as well."
Injuries forced the scrimmage to go shorter than usual and Flood touched on how that had an effect on today's events.
"There are too many guys banged up right now at really two positions. Defensive line and wide receiver numbers are down and that's why we're a little shorter than we've been in the past. We would like to certainly have more reps but with the numbers we have, it wouldn't have been productive to do that."
The defensive line will be without two players for the remainder of the spring, one of whom will be lost for the entire season.
"Julian Pinnix [Odrick] has a knee injury that is going to require surgery," Flood said. "He'll have ACL surgery in a couple of weeks. Al Page had to have a procedure done on his lower leg. He is going to be finished for the spring and we'll get him back by training camp."
On the offensive side of the football, Rutgers was without running back Paul James for the second straight practice.
"Nothing new with Paul James," Flood said. "Hopefully, we'll have him back on Tuesday. He's just got a hip-flexer strain."
Defensive tackle Isaac Holmes also left the field with an injury while strong safety Davon Jacobs did not participate in today's action. More will be available on each of those players this week. Wide receiver Miles Shuler remains day-to-day with a tweaked hamstring while strong safety Lorenzo Waters will be out for the rest of the spring with a broken finger.
Solid QB play
The quarterbacks put together a solid afternoon, particularly Gary Nova, who completed 13-of-16 passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
"I'd like to look at the film. I think just looking at it with the naked eye, I think he did a good job," Flood said of Nova. "I think today was an opportunity for us to build some depth at that position and I really liked what I saw from some of the younger quarterbacks. I think at different times, whether it was Mike Bimonte, whether it was Chris Laviano or Blake Rankin, I saw some things out there that lead me to believe the future is going to be bright at that position. And I think with Chas [Dodd] and Gary already being there at the top of that depth chart, we're going to have some younger guys pushing to move up that depth chart in a hurry."
Nova also said he feels much improved since last season.
"Definitely. Coming in as a junior, I feel calm knowing there's not a lot of pressure fighting for a position and stuff like that," Nova said. "There's still an urgency, obviously there's competition in the room and guys pushing each other to get better. I think from last year's scrimmage from this year's first scrimmage, I think it was a lot better and a lot to build off."
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ruhann Peele continued to put together a solid spring, snaring three catches for 21 yards. Peele made some catches in traffic and did not have the look of a player who has never appeared in a college game.
"You have to have to have a lot of confidence," Peele said following today's scrimmage. "You have to feel like no one can D you, no one can stop you no matter which level you are on. So I just come out here and try to be the best and try to think that no one can stop me when I get the ball."