Ruch Ready To Improve Strength

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Caleb Ruch is known around Rutgers for his superior strength after winning a strongman competition in 2008, so it was a big surprising the red-shirt junior right guard said he needed to improve his strength in the offseason. Why did he say that? And what does he mean? Ruch spoke to about his season, his need to improve in certain areas and more.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – During the summer of Caleb Ruch's first two years at Rutgers, he won a strongman competition at a fair in Maine, and it fed to an aura of Herculean strength.

When Rutgers seniors were carried off the field to end Thursday's practice, Ruch propped 6-foot-5, 305-pound Howard Barbieri on his shoulders and carried him off the field as if he had a 5-year-old on his shoulders..

So, as Ruch readies for a crossroads offseason after Saturday's game at West Virginia, it is a bit strange he pointed to increased strength as a major area of need.

"I'm a pretty strong guy, but you can never be strong enough, and every little bit helps," the 6-foot-4, 290-pound right guard said. "Maybe work on some stuff, like back and core, things you may not think you need as an offensive lineman, but when you get out there it's really important. "It helps with pad level. If you've got a weak back, you're going to get tired and slouch. You just have to have a strong core and back, and it also helps in sitting up in pass protection."

Ruch, a red-shirt junior, is set to make his sixth straight start when Rutgers meets the Mountaineers, and ninth this season.

After splitting time with red-shirt freshman Antwan Lowery the first half of the season, he secured more playing by being more physical, better understanding his assignments and through his experience.

"You mess up sometimes and aren't playing up to the coaches' expectations, so if you're going to get taken out, you know what you have to fix to get back on the field," said Ruch, who missed much of 2009 with an ankle injury. "If you quit …you might as well just stop playing football if you're going to be a quitter.

"I knew I could do it. When I wasn't performing up to my expectations, I knew I could do better. It's why I didn't give up on it."

Continuing "The Chop" is also something Ruch clung to as the offensive line struggled to protect quarterbacks Chas Dodd and Tom Savage, and was ineffective in producing consistent running lanes.

"I learned to keep going, and not give up or quit," Ruch said. "It's never good when you don't do what's expected, but I'm no more disappointed than any of the other guys with where we thought our season would be."

A staple of Rutgers' offense is pulling the guards to help in the run game, and Ruch's developed greatly in that area.

"We pull a lot during practice," Ruch said. "So, when we get in a game, we see all the different looks that you might see, so when you do it during a game it just feels natural."

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