Rutgers continues to prepare for homecoming game
The Rutgers football team finished its third practice of the week on Wednesday leading up to the homecoming matchup against Kansas.
Acting head coach Norries Wilson did not dance around subjects while standing in front of the "Block R" backdrop. He spoke straight to the point when addressing the media.
Suspended head coach Kyle Flood put out the depth chart at the beginning of the week, as per usual. But Wilson was left to endorse Flood’s personnel decisions.
When asked about further evaluating the quarterback position, Wilson said those who deserve to play and start will serve in that capacity.
“Everyone knows that we have to put the best players on the field. We’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t put out there who we thought the best players were,” Wilson said. “Coach Flood put out a depth chart that reflects his opinion on each position — not just the quarterback position. Right now, on Wednesday, the depth chart is what Coach put out.”
Wilson also validated Flood’s decision to keep sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano as the Scarlet Knights’ starting signal-caller for the homecoming game against the Jayhawks.
Laviano can make all the throws that offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels’s offense requires, Wilson said. He also said the Glen Head, New York, native’s pros outweigh his cons.
“Not bad,” Wilson said when asked how Laviano looked in practice this week. “He’s done some good stuff, but he hasn’t been perfect. I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s been perfect. But he’s done a lot of good things — a lot more good than bad.”
A significant part in the play of Laviano, or any other quarterback that plays for Rutgers, is the protection from the offensive line. Pressure from the defense negatively impacts the decisions, timing and throwing ability of the quarterback.
Wilson acknowledged that the play of the offensive line has been noticed and worked on this week. The coaching staff devised specific drills and practice plans with offensive line coach Mitch Browning for the line with help from the running back position in pass protection.
“(Browning) and I got together with the offensive line to drill them, and they picked it up pretty good,” Wilson said. “Until you watch the practice film, you don’t know — it’s never as good as you think and its never as bad as you think. You watch the tape and go into practice to get better.”
Five sacks allowed is not what senior left tackle Keith Lumpkin expects in any game played by the Knights. He admitted the offensive line unit prides itself on its pass protection and helping Laviano and the quarterbacks succeed.
With a drop in performance this past Saturday against Penn State, Lumpkin said the offensive line already reached measures for improvement in weekly preparation.
“We play a part in (affecting the play of the quarterback),” Lumpkin said of Laviano. “He points out the ‘mike’ linebacker, but we have to block for him. If we don’t block and there’s pressure, that’s all on us. We have to do a better job keeping him up and I feel like we have done a better job this week preparing. It’s going to be good to see what we can do this weekend.”
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