James continues recovery in bye week
Coming off its worst rushing performance of the season Thursday against Louisville, the Rutgers football team will be without sophomore running back P.J. James during its bye week.
“He will be re-evaluated at the end of the bye week,” said head coach Kyle Flood via teleconference. “We will have a little bit of an update in terms of timeframe. He will not practice this week. He is not at that point yet where he needs to do that.”
James missed the Scarlet Knights’ last two games against Southern Methodist and the Louisville after sustaining a lower leg injury Sept. 21 against Arkansas. It is still undetermined whether the Knights’ leading rusher will return this season.
In Rutgers’ first four games, James led the team with 573 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. His four runs of 50-plus yards tied Ray Rice for most in program history.
In his stead, running backs Savon Huggins and Justin Goodwin have taken the bulk of the carries.
Goodwin, a true freshman, received most of the carries Oct. 5 against the Mustangs and impressed in the process.
Goodwin rushed for 149 yards on 24 carries for two touchdowns, including a game-winning 17-yard scamper in triple overtime of Rutgers’ 55-52 victory.
Huggins complemented Goodwin in that contest with 18 carries for 48 yards.
But last Thursday against Louisville, both combined for just 60 yards on 17 carries, well below Rutgers’ average of 151.7 yards per game.
Flood credited the Cardinals’ run defense but also said the lack of production fell in the laps of the Knights’ run offense.
“In the run game, we need to execute better,” Flood said. “In a lot of ways, up until this point, we did that against Louisville, and we didn’t. Some of that was Louisville’s defense, and some of that was us not executing the way I think we’re capable of.”
Flood said he will evaluate the offensive line during the bye week after the unit allowed a season-high eight sacks to Louisville.
“When you don’t do a good enough job, you have to see if there are other people on the team who can make you better and do a better job,” Flood said. “We’ve got a couple practices this week to see if that’s the case.”
Throughout the game, Flood rotated four players on the right side of the line, with seniors Antwon Lowery and Andre Civil respectively entering for redshirt freshman right guard Chris Muller and junior right tackle Taj Alexander.
The offensive line could have allowed more sacks, but junior quarterback Gary Nova avoided several takedowns in the backfield when the pocket collapsed.
Junior cornerback Gareef Glashen will return to practice after missing the past two weeks with a personal issue.
The timing of his return correlates with Lew Toler’s injury, as the senior cornerback will likely miss the season after breaking his arm against the Cardinals on the opening series.
“I think that this bye week and every day in it is critical to every player in our program,” Flood said. “Gareef has not played in a couple games. To get him back will give us some more experience in the secondary.”
Glashen has played four games this season and started in the Knights’ opener against Fresno State.
Without Glashen and Toler against Louisville, freshmen Ian Thomas, Nadir Barnwell and Anthony Cioffi all played substantially.
But this season, Rutgers nationally ranks 116th this season in passing yards allowed with 306.8 yards per game.
Flood believes Glashen’s presence can only help Knights’ chances at improvement.
“I think the more players and the more options you have at a position, the stronger your football team is,” Flood said.
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