By Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Aug. 11, 2014) – To this point, most of the tweaks that have been made to Rutgers’ depth chart have been necessitated by injuries. That may be about to change after the Scarlet Knights completed their first full scrimmage of the summer today at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Head coach Kyle Flood said if changes are forthcoming – a film review of the scrimmage is required first – the results could surface during the morning practice of Tuesday’s double session
“Every practice you have is important but I do weigh the scrimmages more,” Flood said. “When you come down here in the stadium and you put the coaches on the sideline, you have to perform out there on your own in an unscripted environment. To me, that is more valuable information.
“So we’re going to look hard at this film over the next couple of hours and make some decisions – not all, but some. I think you’ll start to see some of those things tomorrow morning.”
One position battle still to be resolved is backup quarterback, where Chris Laviano and Mike Bimonte are still competing to see who will be No. 2 behind Gary Nova.
“At some point we’re going to have to make a decision,” Flood said. “What I’ve learned is with most decisions you don’t always have all of the information. To continue to wait for all of the information I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. If we feel like we can make it after this scrimmage we will. If we don’t we won’t.
“We’ll look tomorrow and meet again and decide. I don’t know, other than I don’t think it was clear-cut looking at it here on the field, if I would have any other comment than that just because I think we need to look at it.”
Without being specific, Flood thought some of the younger players battling for spots on the depth chart may have suffered from stage fright being in the stadium.
“It was really more of those second-line guys,” he said. “When you come into the stadium they have an opportunity to showcase themselves and I’m not so sure they were ready to do that. Now we’ll go back and practice more and do it again on Saturday. That’s why you have a preseason.
“I think that’s why it’s so important to have the half scrimmage and the two full scrimmages. It’s not like practice when you come to the stadium. It’s a different deal and I hope those guys hopefully learn from this today.”
Saturday will mark the Scarlet Knights’ second and final scrimmage before the Aug. 28 opener against Washington State in Seattle.
Both Flood and Nova gave today’s scrimmage mixed reviews – though Nova was sharp, despite being victimized by a couple of drops. Defensively, Darius Hamilton, David Milewski and Quentin Gause stood out on defense. Offensively, Leonte Carroo impressed in his limited time and the freshmen running backs – Josh Hicks and Robert Martin – showed flashes of promise.
“I thought we came out a little flat but we started to pick up the energy,” Nova said. “I think during the first 25-play script that we had we ran the ball pretty well. A guy like Sam Bergen got a lot more plays at fullback. I think he did a good job. I think overall as an offense we did pretty well today. We’ve just got to watch the film and get better from it.”
Though most of the coaches were on the field, offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen called plays from the pressbox, with Nova saying the operation went off without a hitch.
“It went pretty smoothly,” said the senior. “He was calling the plays in. I don’t think we had any mistakes signaling the plays in and out so that went pretty smoothly.”
Flood said he “thought the 1s on both sides improved from the first scrimmage, from the half-scrimmage (last Tuesday).”
“I don’t know if the 2s and 3s have improved as much as we need them to,” he added. “I think we really, at every position, have to start honing in on who are the guys that are going to be in the two-deep or the one and a half deep, however you want to look at it for game day. Because we’ve got some backups right now that need a lot of reps to be able to help us on game day.”
Hicks and Martin, battling for carries behind Paul James, Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples (who did not participate in the scrimmage), have done enough to at least merit playing time on special teams, according to Flood.
“It’s not in my plan right now to even worry about redshirting those guys,” he said. “I think they’re going to play. I think they’re going help us on special teams. How much they’ll play at running back we’ll decide as we go.
“They’re both still learning. And you kind of see that. They get a little bit better each day at kind of knowing the complete package, the protections, the passing routes. But I think those two guys, kind of like Leonte (Carroo) a couple of years ago, are going to be a valuable part of our special teams going forward.”
Left guard Kaleb Johnson, injured in practice on Thursday, was back in the starting lineup for the scrimmage (although Dorian Miller appeared to play well when he was given time at the position).
“I thought Kaleb looked good,” said Flood. “We had him in the run-through last night and he was moving around well. I thought he moved around well today. I think he’s recovering well, just like I thought he would.”