August 16, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers looks for answers during bye

Photo by Tian Li |

Head coach Kyle Flood has a week and a half to decide how to use sophomore running back P.J. James against Cincinnati.

With the Rutgers football team enduring its third bye week of the season, here are four questions the Scarlet Knights need to answer before their Nov. 16 game against Cincinnati.

How will head coach Kyle Flood incorporate running back P.J. James if he is ready to play against the Bearcats?

Flood said Sunday the sophomore will practice on a limited basis during bye week practices as he continues to work his way back from a lower leg injury sustained Sept. 21 against Arkansas.

James, who leads the Knights with 573 yards on the ground and six touchdowns, missed four games as Rutgers went 2-2 during that span.

If James is available against Cincinnati, the Knights will have to decide whether he can handle a heavy workload or if he will split carries. Freshman Justin Goodwin and junior Savon Huggins are both candidates for distribution.

Goodwin received the bulk of the carries in James’ place, rushing for 407 yards during James’ absence.

Will freshman cornerback Nadir Barnwell reclaim his starting role after his arrest?

Barnwell, who Flood fully reinstated earlier this week after the Piscataway native was arrested last week for driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, has started four games this season.

But Flood must decide whether Barnwell could be more effective than fellow freshman Delon Stephenson, who started for Barnwell last Saturday against Temple.

During his first-career start, Stephenson recorded the first interception from a Rutgers cornerback since former teammate Ian Thomas snagged one in the season opener.

Stephenson also posted three tackles and two quarterback hurries against the Owls.

In what situations will Flood trust his kickers?

Flood pulled sophomore kicker Kyle Federico from Saturday’s game after his first-ever missed extra point.

Federico also missed a 40-yard field goal after connecting on a 30-yarder early in the contest.

Flood inserted sophomore kicker Nick Borgese, who converted on both of his extra point tries. Flood said yesterday both would compete for the starting job against the Bearcats.

Federico is 6-for-11 on field goal attempts this season.

How will the offense look to incorporate junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman more?

Coleman registered two catches for 40 yards Saturday against Temple — his first receptions since Oct. 10 against Louisville.

Coleman needs two touchdowns to tie a school record with 20 for a career, but has not scored since doing so twice Aug. 29 at Fresno State.

Cincinnati ranks second in the AAC in passing defense with 177 yards allowed per contest, so opportunities could still come at a minimum.

The Accokeek, Md., native has 22 receptions this season for 326 yards and two scores.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

By Bradly Derechailo

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