Huggins eyes return after second injury run-in
Savon Huggins said he is excited to get his feet wet again, and for good reason. For the past three weeks, they have only sat at the bottom of cold tubs and swimming pools at the Rutgers football team’s Hale Center complex.
“I was here on the weekends, I was here on the weekdays, I was here any time I could get here,” Huggins said yesterday. “I really want to be back 100 percent.”
After missing the Scarlet Knights’ last two games because of a leg injury, the sophomore running back can return Saturday against Connecticut in the team’s home opener.
Huggins said the six games he has missed during the last two seasons were the most of his entire career. But the timing of the Knights’ first bye week aided his recovery.
“We could focus on all the people who needed to do rehab,” he said. “The bye week really helped me to get back to where I am.”
Huggins’ status improved with his practice Sunday night, said head coach Kyle Flood. But the amount of field time he sees against the Huskies could depend on how Huggins looks throughout the week.
He practices today for the first time in full pads since his injury Sept. 8 against Howard.
“That’ll be a big day for him,” Flood said. “Those things are exciting to me.”
Flood’s bye week plan focused around a reduced workload for the team’s veterans and evaluating the Knights’ younger players. It likely paid off for sophomore Jawan Jamison, who rushed a Big East-high 102 times through four games.
Huggins, meanwhile, earned 21 carries in less than two full contests for 70 yards, 31 of which came on one attempt.
“He gave us a chance to get our bodies back, and not pound us [and] pound us like in the past,” Jamison said of Flood. “He gave us a chance to let our bodies heal and let the bruises go away so we can … be fresh.”
For his part, Huggins said he will be ready to play against UConn.
He expected the three-week timetable, even if it meant a change in his identity.
“I would love to help, but I couldn’t,” Huggins said. “So right there I had to be a role player in a different sense — not on the field, but helping [Jamison] out, seeing what he sees on the sideline and telling him, ‘This is what you could’ve done better.’ It really didn’t bother me too much because I knew what my role was.”
Flood said the coaching staff worked Sunday with freshman kicker Kyle Federico on his mechanics. Federico is 4-for-8 this season on field goals and has missed at least one in three of the Knights’ four games.
“We’ve worked on just getting a little bit more in rhythm,” Flood said. “He looked a little bit out of rhythm. We made him go out there [in] end-of-game situations, clock winding down, to see if we could put him in a pressure situation and not just go out and kick a field goal. He did a nice job.”
The No. 10 kicker in the Class of 2012, according to ESPN.com, enrolled for spring practice and entrenched himself as a starter. He added kickoff responsibilities to his résumé after only two games.
But working with two holders and anticipating field goal attempts too early likely played a role in his 50 percent conversion rate.
“The improvements you see in practice, you hope to see them in games,” Flood said. “I have a lot of faith in Kyle.”
Sam Bergen emerged as Rutgers’ first-team fullback on the team’s newly released depth chart yesterday, but the sophomore will have to work for his reps, Flood said.
Flood said last week he could foresee a platoon at the position.
“Sam has done a nice job with the role we’ve given him right now,” Flood said. “Where that goes from here, he’ll have to earn more and more each week.”
Bergen converted from linebacker during spring practice and has yet to see the field at fullback. He last played the position in 2009 at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School.
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