RU rules Carroo out versus UConn with injury
The Rutgers football team’s Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep duo which orchestrated two game-winning drives this season is out for Saturday’s game against Connecticut.
Along with senior quarterback Chas Dodd starting ahead of junior Gary Nova, sophomore wide receiver Leonte Carroo is listed as out with an upper body injury.
Carroo leads the Scarlet Knights with 478 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season, but he has only recorded four catches for 23 yards in the Knights’ last two games.
That is part of what prompted head coach Kyle Flood to implement redshirt freshman Ruhann Peele at both cornerback and wide receiver.
“I think it’s two-fold,” Flood said yesterday post-practice. “You saw the injury report. Leonte won’t play. Ruhann is a valuable guy in the role he had on offense. That’s part of it. Part of it is that he has had a couple weeks playing defense, so I think he is better equipped to do it now than when he was first learning the position.”
Peele began as a wide receiver before converting to cornerback in the bye week before Nov. 16 against Cincinnati.
The Linden (N.J.) High School product played slot, which senior Quron Pratt did while Peele played cornerback. Peele’s return might move Pratt to where Carroo played on the outside opposite junior Brandon Coleman.
But a combination of wideouts will replace Carroo, Flood said.
Out of receivers who play sparingly, he pointed to redshirt freshman Carlton Agudosi and freshmen Andre Patton, Janarion Grant and John Tsimis.
Patton had an “excellent practice” yesterday, Flood said.
“I don’t think that’s any different than when Leonte is not in the game,” Flood said of who fills Carroo’s role. “He doesn’t play every snap of the game. We’re fortunate that happens to be a position where we do have a little bit of depth.”
Coleman admitted Carroo’s absence slightly changes the offense’s dynamic. Training camp began with the 6-foot-6 Coleman as Rutgers’ only apparent deep threat with several small, speedy receivers.
By training camp’s end, Carroo proved he was more than a possession receiver.
“He has the ability to stretch the field. We obviously all know that now,” Coleman said. “It wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew he had it in him since he got here, but everybody knows it. It’s just another weapon that we have.”
One of sophomore running back P.J. James’ strengths is quickly anticipating holes to run through.
That is harder with fewer available holes than early this season.
“Whenever there’s no holes, you can’t really read them,” James said. “So you just try to fight for what I can get. Any little gap I see, I try to get it. Even if it’s two yards, I try to get what I can get because a negative play doesn’t help at all.”
Before sustaining a lower leg injury Sept. 21 against Arkansas, James was the nation’s leading rusher.
James rushed for only 20 yards off 12 carries in his second game since returning Thursday at Central Florida.
He said it can get frustrating that Rutgers’ offense tries to prioritize the running game but then stops doing so when trailing.
“You’ve got to be a dual threat,” James said. “You’ve got to be able to do certain other things. So I try to really focus on my pass blocking to get in and protect the quarterback because you can’t just be a runner.”
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