Spring Practice Wrap: New Questions Emerge

Finding answers at many key positions during spring practice, Rutgers and coach Kyle Flood saw new questions emerge with summer workouts and training camp all that stands between the Scarlet Knights at a road trip to Fresno State.

Rutgers is well on its way to answering questions at linebacker and in the secondary. Ian Thomas and Jeremy Deering stood out as successful position changes and Gary Nova had a strong spring at quarterback.

Looking ahead to training camp, old questions linger and new ones emerged for the defending co-Big East champion Scarlet Knights.

5.) Will Everyone Be Healthy? -- Rutgers only has one season-ending injury – Julian Pinnix-Odrick – but dozens of question marks coming out of spring. The spring game roster became depleted at multiple positions because of injury concerns.

Running back has concerns with Dontea Ayres (leg) and Paul James (leg) going down with injuries. At safety, Rutgers lost half of its potential starters with Lorenzo Waters (finger) and Davon Jacobs (leg) shutting down. Rutgers and coach Kyle Flood responded well to injuries in the spring, but need a healthy roster going into training camp with position battles unresolved.

4.) Will Nova Continue Success? -- For Nova, one turnover in three scrimmages is beyond impressive, but how will he build on his strong start? Will he be the same cerebral leader when he has a chance to get hit or will he revert to mistakes made at the end of last season?

Spring was a step in the right direction under new offensive coordinator Ron Prince but is by no means a guarantee that Nova has his turnover inconsistencies behind him.

3.) Will Lowery Bounce Back? -- Fifth-year senior Antwan Lowery lost his starting job to redshirt freshman Chris Muller at the end of camp. Lowery played at an all-conference level at right guard at times, but did not stand out during the spring.

Moving into the summer, Lowery can either rise to the call and reclaim his starting spot with a big season or it becomes Muller's opportunity to stand out.

2.) What Does Rutgers Have in Brandon Coleman? -- Coming off injury, Coleman is the dynamic weapon Prince needs to build his offense. Inconsistencies in the running game can disappear if a healthy Coleman arrives at receiver. A 6-foot-6 target with 4.4 speed and two years of experience, Coleman is a serious big-play threat and a near lock to break Tim Brown's school record (20) in touchdown receptions this season.

1.) Where is the Depth? -- In a rotation-based defense, Rutgers needs to be more than 11 strong to mimic its 2012 success. Young players like Steve Longa and Ian Thomas emerged, but the Scarlet Knights defense has always been most successful with about 18 players rotating with the first-team defense and there are depth concerns on all three levels.

On the defensive line, defensive coordinator Dave Cohen needs a 3-tech to emerge behind Darius Hamilton and more depth at end. The linebackers have three capable players inside, but do not have a lot to offer behind starters Jamal Merrell and Kevin Snyder.

Rutgers successfully rotated six defensive backs last year – five of which are now in the NFL. The Scarlet Knights need to find the three best safeties and three best cornerbacks fast in training camp to get ready for a pass-happy Fresno State.


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