Rutgers celebrated the Christmas holiday with another afternoon practice today at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. Just three days remain until kickoff at the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl and here's a look at the latest from the sidelines.
Amping things up
The first part of the week involved a lot of leisure time for the Scarlet Knights, but the intensity was revved up a bit during today's practice at Dr. Phillips High School.
"We flipped the switch into work-mode. I think that's really important to be able to do that during bowl week," head coach Kyle Flood said following Tuesday's practice. "And I think now, every day from here on out, you'll see the intensity level will increase a little bit as we get closer to Friday. It starts to feel a little bit more like a game week and I think the players have done a good job so far. They have been on point."
The kicking game
The starting kicker now looks as though it will be up in the air until Friday's game against Virginia Tech. Nick Borgese has started the last seven games filling in for the injured Kyle Federico. But it looks like there is a chance for Federico to reclaim his role.
"I would say right now I came into the week thinking Borgese would be the kicker in the game," Flood said. "And I think Kyle has had a really good week. I'm not sure Nick is 100 percent right now. I think as we go the next couple of days, we are going to have to make a decision of some kind whether it's going to be Borgese or whether it's going to be Kyle or possibly Joe Behnke as well. He's looked pretty good this week. All three kicked today and it will probably be a game-time decision."
Senior cornerback Brandon 'Juice' Jones looks to have shaken off a leg injury that forced him out of the Louisville game in the first half. After today's practice, Jones is feeling confident he will be able to return to his old form and continue his string of 25 straight starts on Friday.
"I'm feeling real good. I had a really good practice today and added that to a good practice yesterday," Jones said. "I'm just excited to get back and play the game again."
Jones has also accepted an invitation to play in the Casino Del Sol All-Star game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan 11.
Changing of the tackle
The Rutgers offensive line allowed only eight sacks this season and benefitted a great deal from its tackle play. Kaleb Johnson, who did not allow one sack, held down the left tackle spot while R.J. Dill was also very stout at right tackle. Dill, a senior, is the only member of the starting O-line who will not return. Johnson offered his thoughts on who might be an early favorite to replace Dill.
"Chris Muller is a hard worker. I talk with him every day and I could tell he looks up to me. He's always talking to me, asking me little things. I'm helping him and I feel like he might be able to come in and take over R.J.'s spot next year."
Rutgers will bid farewell to seventeen seniors after the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl. As has been Rutgers tradition, those seniors will be carried off the field after tomorrow's practice but Flood doesn't have any special speech set aside for those seniors.
"Tomorrow we will have our ceremony which we always had with the last practice and we'll carry the seniors off," Flood said. "I think it's a nice moment for them, but I think if you get too involved in those types of conversations and those type of emotions, they really take away from your play and they get in the way of playing at a high level."
Sophomore running back Jawan Jamison claims that he is now back to 100 percent and will make good use of his personal time with a short trip back to his hometown of Jacksonville today.
"It's been fun, it's been a fun week. They have been taking care of us real well," Jamison said. "I'm just having fun with my teammates. ...And it's warmer down here."