Barnwell suspended for at least one game after DWI
Allowing 400 passing yards to Houston is not the only headache head coach Kyle Flood has to deal with from the secondary.
Freshman cornerback Nadir Barnwell, who started Saturday against the Cougars, was suspended for at least the Scarlet Knights’ next game against Temple. He was charged early yesterday morning with driving while intoxicated.
Flood, who has not acknowledged the reason for Barnwell’s suspension, only said Barnwell was suspended for a violation of team rules, not entering specifics. Barnwell has started four games this season for Rutgers.
“He won’t be available to us [this week],” Flood said during yesterday’s teleconference. “… My plans are for it to be through this week, but it’s not finalized yet.”
With Barnwell’s suspension, Rutgers is down to just four cornerbacks for Saturday’s game against the Owls: Junior Gareef Glashen, redshirt freshman Javon Tyree and true freshman Anthony Cioffi and Delon Stephenson.
Flood said sophomore safety Tejay Johnson could also see time at corner, his former position until training camp’s near completion.
But his suspension is just another step backwards for a secondary that ranks 121st nationally against the pass.
The Knights already lost corners Lew Toler to injury and Ian Thomas, who left the program to pursue a baseball career.
Junior strong safety Lorenzo Waters was injured on Rutgers’ first defensive play Saturday and did not return. Flood said he believes he will return for the Temple game.
“I will get a full report [today], but I’m optimistic that as the week goes on we’ll get him back,” Flood said yesterday.
The Knights have allowed 320.1 passing yards per game in their first seven games.
Flood said yesterday he does not expect sophomore running back Paul James to be available for Rutgers’ game against Temple.
James has not played since he suffered a lower leg injury Sept. 21 against Arkansas. James, the Knights’ leading rusher, has missed three games since then.
In his stead, freshman running back Justin Goodwin has rushed for 248 yards and four touchdowns, including his 161-yard, two-touchdown performance Saturday against Houston.
Goodwin, who carried the ball 31 times against the Cougars, said he can handle the extra workload if James continues to be unavailable.
Yeah, that will be no problem,” Goodwin said postgame about an increase in carries.
In the Knights’ third test against a spread offense, the Scarlet Knights’ secondary was not the only unit that struggled.
The Knights entered the game with the nation’s No. 2 rush defense, allowing just 84 yards per game on the ground before Homecoming.
In Rutgers’ past two games against spread offenses — Fresno State and Southern Methodist — the Knights held both opponents under 100 yards.
But Houston carved up the Knights for 211 yards rushing, and made it look easy.
The Knights whiffed on several tackles on all levels, allowing eight runs of at least 10 yards. Rutgers missed two tackles when running back Kenneth Farrow broke off a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“Anytime we go against a spread offense it changes things,” said senior nose tackle Isaac Holmes postgame.
The performance was just one of many factors contributing to the Knights’ worst home loss since a 47-15 defeat Sept. 7, 2009 against Cincinnati.
Flood said he will have to look at game film to pinpoint the exact problem.
“I think what it does for us is it makes us reevaluate what we’re doing, but we would do that anyway,” Flood said postgame. “We’ve reevaluated even when we performed well to make sure it wasn’t just players making plays independent of the system. I think it’s more obvious to everybody when you don’t play well.”
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