Monday Notebook: Busy Bye Week

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood offered the latest updates on injured running back Paul James and bye week activities Monday on the American conference call. Flood also discussed the new game series with Temple, Janarion Grant's emergence and the offensive line.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood will have a close eye on the running backs during the bye week and that begins with starter Savon Huggins. Huggins regains his starting job following a lower-leg injury to Paul James Saturday in the win over Arkansas.

James is out at least through the Louisville game, making Huggins the primary option and a key guy in the bye week.

"The most important thing for the running back is protect the football," Flood said. "The second most important thing they do is protect the quarterback, and third they need to run the ball within our system."

Huggins helped grind out the victory after James left via injury. He moves back to No. 1 on the depth chart this week, followed by true freshman Justin Goodwin and red-shirt freshman Desmon Peoples.

"When we do those three things, we've got a chance to be pretty good," Flood said. "I think P.J.'s shown that and I think Savon showed that late in the game last week. Now guys like Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples are going to get the opportunity to show that."

Rutgers (2-1) begins its bye week today, officially one-third of the way through the season. Not a traditional bye week because of the SMU and Louisville trips within five days of each other, Flood plans to have the locker room ready for a brutal stretch to start conference play.

"It's going to give you an opportunity to get a little bit healthier," Flood said. "For us at the running back position, it will give us an opportunity to sort out what the depth is going to be going forward behind Savon Huggins. And then to improve, hopefully, every aspect of our team. It's just a little bit different than most of the bye weeks we've had in the past. Because the minute we come off the bye week, we're going to play two games in 10 days."

Rutgers Cleans Up

Rutgers cleaned up in weekly American honors following its Arkansas victory. Quarterback Gary Nova took home Offensive Player of the Week for his 346 passing yards, three touchdowns and fourth quarter heroics.

True freshman Janarion Grant earned Special Teams Player of the Week following two electric punt returns and the touchdown that turned the tables on Arkansas in the momentum battle.

"It was probably one minute after his Letter of Intent came through the fax machine last February," Flood said on when he knew Grant could contribute early. "Janarion is a player, who in high school, scored touchdowns in every possible way you could score a touchdown on the football field on offense and on defense and on special teams. He is a really dynamic football player and I thought he could have an immediate impact for us on special teams even before the season.

Four-Game Series

Rutgers and Temple inked a deal for a four-game football series beginning in 2020 at High Point Solutions Stadium. The Scarlet Knights face Temple as an AAC member for the only time this season at home.

"The Temple series is very exciting to me for the future of our program," Flood said. "I know it's not always the case in college football these days, maybe becoming less and less in college football. But I think when college football is regional, it can be at its best because both fan bases get an opportunity to travel. The crowd experience is excellent. I certainly know a lot of the players run in the same circles. … I think it creates a great environment and for our program, we're excited for the opportunity to go down to Philadelphia a few times and play as well."

Recruiting Bed

Flood received a question about the amount of NFL talent coming out of New Jersey and said it begins in the high schools.

"I think the people in the coaching profession are well aware of the talent that's coming out of New Jersey and I think that starts with the great high school coaching," Flood said. "I think our high school coaches in this state do a tremendous job of developing the players when they get them out of eighth grade. As those players come through the high school programs, we've got some of the best high school programs in the country right here in our home state. We're fortunate that we have some of the players on our team from those programs."

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