Muller to Start at Right Guard

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers redshirt freshman Chris Muller is set for his first career start Saturday against Norfolk State in the home opener. Muller stepped in for injured starter Andre Civil at right got and got off to a strong start last week in a 52-51 overtime loss to Fresno State.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Redshirt freshman Chris Muller is preparing for his first career start at right guard Saturday against Norfolk State. The way he sees it, however, it is nothing new compared to what he experienced at Fresno State.

"I mean, I already started on field goal protect, so it's the same thing right?" Muller said as a joke after being named the starter Monday.

Muller said he understands the opportunity he is being given and that it may not last long if he does not perform at his best. Named the starter after Andre Civil went down with an injury, Muller wants to prove he is ready to stay as a first-team player.

"Being placed in the position I'm in, I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity," Muller said. "It's pretty cool, so I'm just ready to get better in practice this week and go."

Muller spent two full quarters plus a series before halftime and one in overtime as the first-team guard. With Muller in the game, Rutgers put up 31 points and ran for nearly 200 yards from scrimmage.

"I learned a lot," Muller said. "At times I was very hesitant and I know I have a lot to improve on. You can never be perfect. You always have to improve. You can never become complacent. Once you're complacent, you won't improve.

"You can't give the credit to me [for the second half]. The whole line was improving. You watch on film and Kaleb Johnson was getting pancakes every play. [James] ran it extremely well. He's just a really hard runner. He made me look good."

Early playing time was always in Muller's mind during his development. Highly rated and a U.S. Army All-American as a senior, Muller picked Rutgers because of his relationships to the staff but had his sights set on playing early at tackle or guard.

Conditioning held Muller back during his freshman year. Muller needed to reshape his body, drop body fat and improve his physique. He embraced the plan set in front of him from strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Cole and the result is his first career start coming in four days.

"It's home and it's going to be huge," Muller said. "Being able to be there with the fans cheering for us, not against us is going to mean everything. It's really why I came here. I want to play Rutgers football. I finally get to do it, which is awesome."

Muller and the rest of Rutgers has no plans of taking its MEAC opponent lightly. After struggles to run successfully early against Fresno State, Rutgers wants to establish a strong ground tempo.

"Moving the ball was huge because we haven't always been able to do it," Muller said. "But we just need to focus on having more drive-starters and having longer drives. We have to be able to control the game and control the ball and the clock."

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