5 To Watch: Rutgers Offense

ScarletReport.com publisher Sam Hellman offers Irish fans five players to watch on Rutgers' offense

QB Chas Dodd -- Dodd may come from South Carolina, but he is a true cold-weather quarterback. Arguably the five best wins of his career all came in late-season or cold conditions – Connecticut 2010, South Florida 2011, Pinstripe Bowl 2011, Cincinnati 2011 and South Florida 2013.

Dodd went almost two years between starting gigs after coming up short in multiple position battles with Gary Nova. His time came at the low point of the 2013 season, going 1-1 in two starts to end the regular season. Dodd is a coach's son going into his 19th and final start of his career. He has 345 yards, three touchdowns and two wins in his career at Yankee Stadium. In 2013, Dodd threw for 713 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions with appearances in seven games.

WR Brandon Coleman -- This will be that last time anyone sees the 6-foot-6 receiver in a Rutgers uniform. Coleman declared his intentions to enter the 2014 NFL draft at the start of Pinstripe Bowl practices, and he wants to go out the right way.

Coleman was not productive as a junior, but it was the right time for him to leave. Coleman battled injuries last spring, but can open major eyes in the combine if his 40-time gets down to the 4.5s and 4.4s where it was pre-injury.

Coleman has 19 career touchdown catches, one short of the Rutgers record, but has just 473 yards and three touchdowns this season.

WR Leonte Carroo -- The pressure is on the super sophomore, because Rutgers needs a quick recovery from injury here. Carroo leads Rutgers with nine touchdown catches, eight of which coming in the fourth quarter or overtime, but he has not been seen since taking a brutal hit at UCF last month.

Carroo is the most dynamic offense weapon Rutgers has. He needs to be healthy for Dodd to run the offense at its highest level. Carroo has not practiced as of Thursday morning, and his presence is missed. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has not ruled Carroo out for the bowl game, but is approaching the situation with caution.

TE Tyler Kroft -- Kroft earned All-American status with multiple publications, and is ScarletReport.com's "2013 Most Improved Player." Rutgers has not had a true receiving threat at tight end since the early years of Greg Schiano and future Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith.

Kroft will be one of the bigger matchup concerns for the Notre Dame defense. He led Rutgers in receiving with 40 catches and 530 yards.

RB Paul James -- James has a great football story to tell after climbing from preferred walk-on with no offers to future Big Ten starting running back. James beat out former five-star running back Savon Huggins for the starting job after a jaw-dropping Rutgers debut against Fresno State.

James exploded at Bulldog Stadium182 yards on 22 touches in his second career appearance at the college level. James battled lower leg injuries the second half of the year, and needs 167 yards against the Fighting Irish to break 1,000. James would be just the fourth 1,000-yard rusher in the last 30 years of Rutgers football.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories