James’ status against USF stands 50/50 after last injury
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Sophomore running back P.J. James’ status is once again uncertain after sustaining a lower right leg injury Saturday against Connecticut.
Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood said yesterday via teleconference James might not be available for the regular-season finale Saturday against South Florida. Flood will continue to monitor James this week.
“I’m going to put him right now at 50-50, but I’m personally probably more optimistic than that that he will be able to go this week,” Flood said.
James sustained the injury during the second quarter against the Huskies after leading the Knights with 49 rushing yards on 11 carries.
James, who leads Rutgers with 720 yards on the ground this season in seven games, already missed four contests with a lower left leg injury.
Without James in the second half, the Knights struggled to generate a ground presence. Junior Savon Huggins and freshman Justin Goodwin combined for just 18 rushing yards in the second half.
The lone highlight came from Goodwin, who scampered for a 3-yard scoring rush to give the Knights a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.
But with the overall ineffectiveness of the running game, senior quarterback Chas Dodd was forced to attempt 35 passes in the game.
Though he felt the lack of a running presence put no added pressure on him.
“A little bit bigger runs here or there obviously would have helped, but [it didn’t put pressure on me],” Dodd said postgame. “You get put in a situation where you have to be able to be productive and that’s just what we weren’t able to do today.”
The running game, especially on third down, was one of Flood’s biggest issues with the offense’s performance against the Huskies.
With James’ status for South Florida in question, it may be hard to correct.
In Ruhann Peele’s first game playing both ways for Rutgers, the redshirt freshman had mixed results.
Peele started the game at cornerback but played in just the two first defensive series before primarily playing offense.
Flood said he held out Peele from most defensive snaps because Peele needed to see the adjustments against Connecticut’s offense.
“That’s one of the things that’s a little bit tricky for the player, you can’t just put him back in the game,” Flood said postgame. “You have to be able to get the adjustments and we did that with him at halftime.”
But Flood abandoned using Peele defensively in the second half, electing to go with junior Gareef Glashen and freshmen Anthony Cioffi and Nadir Barnwell.
Peele, meanwhile, finished with four receptions for 79 yards, including a 40-yard reception in the third quarter.
The Linden, N.J., native planned to play more series in the Knights secondary than he did.
“I expected to play more defense,” Peele said. “There was supposed to be a rotation, first two series ‘D’, second two series ‘O’, but as the game went on, I stayed on ‘O’.”
Junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman failed to duplicate his success from the last time he visited Rentschler Field in 2011, when he accumulated six receptions for 223 yards and two scores.
Though most of his production in that game came in the fourth quarter, Coleman’s only receiving production this time against the Huskies was in the first quarter.
Coleman finished with two receptions for 36 yards, with both catches coming during the Knights’ first three drives.
Dodd looked at Coleman early in the contest, but Coleman once again was rendered ineffective for Rutgers’ offense.
Coleman was disappointed he could not produce more with Dodd behind center.
“I did [think we were going to have a rhythm], and it didn’t turn out that way,” Coleman said. “We tried to connect some other times, but it just didn’t come out that way. We’ll look at the film and we’ll regroup.”