Monday Notebook: Arkansas Game Week Begins

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Gary Nova's concussion remains in the headlines, but Rutgers and coach Kyle Flood have plenty of other storylines coming out of Monday's media availability. Flood detailed multiple injuries and began looking ahead at the first SEC foe to face Rutgers at home.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Fifth-year senior captain Jamal Merrell missed the Eastern Michigan game because of injury, which coach Kyle Flood revealed as a kidney issue on Monday's updated injury report. Merrell is listed as doubtful for Arkansas and is not expected back until after the bye week.

"I don't really want to discuss it but it is a kidney situation and Jamal was with us yesterday in the meetings, but he is not at this point able to practice," Flood said. "I do expect him back after the bye week."

Red-shirt freshman Davon Jacobs replaced Merrell as a starter, with junior Kevin Snyder seeing more time in coverage.

Junior Quentin Gause and true freshman L.J. Liston also see their roles increase in importance against the electric Arkansas run game.

"I expect them to be better," Flood said on the young linebackers. "I expect them to be better than they were last week. Now that they have more experience of being in a game, and I think they need -- they need to improve this week if we are going to be able to contain an excellent Arkansas offense."

Dodd's Opportunity

Senior quarterback Chas Dodd did not want to see starter Gary Nova go down with an injury. While hoping Nova makes a speedy recovery, the competitive juices in Dodd – a former starter – have him salivating at the chance to start such a meaningful game.

Unimportant in terms of a BCS bowl for Rutgers, the Arkansas game is a highly anticipated statement game.

"I think it would be big," Dodd said. "Obviously my whole family is going to be excited. I might have a lot of people up here, so it's going to be very exciting for them."

Pratt Honored

Senior wide receiver Quron Pratt took home American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his 99-yard kick return for a touchdown and a big tackle on the punt team.

Pratt asked for more opportunities in special teams before the week, and credits former Rutgers players for setting a good example.

"You see guys like Logan Ryan, Mohamed Sanu, Mason Robinson taking pride in special teams working and trying to get better each day," Pratt said. "I'm just learning from guys and going out and doing it."

Stop the Big Plays

Red-shirt freshman cornerback Ian Thomas is not concerned about giving up 335 passing yards to eastern Michigan quarterback Tyler Benz. Sacrificing short plays to prevent big ones was a part of the plan, with the only EMU touchdown coming on a trick play.

"We don't want to give up big plays, so it was basically that," Thomas said. "We are very, very big on limiting big plays. We were successful in that."

Injury Notes

Safety Jeremy Deering is probable with a foot injury, making sophomore Tejay Johnson a potential starter in his place. Senior tight end Paul Carrezola and junior center Betim Bujari are expected to be available for Arkansas.

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