Cornerback Situation Darkens with Suspension

The Rutgers cornerback situation continues to trend downward after the announced suspension of Nadir Barnwell for a violation for team rules. Rutgers goes into its Temple game week severely limited at the position.

The Rutgers defensive secondary had enough issues on the field Saturday, but the situation took another step toward a state of emergency at the end of Homecoming weekend with the suspension of starter Nadir Barnwell.

The most experienced starter in a thin cornerback group is out for the week after a violation of team rules during Homecoming weekend, announced head coach Kyle Flood on his day-after conference call.

"Nadir Barnwell is going to be suspended for this game this week for a violation of team rules," Flood said. "He won't be available to us."

Safety Lorenzo Waters and cornerback Anthony Cioffi are also likely to appear on Monday's injury report. Waters left early against Houston with a high-ankle sprain, and Cioffi spent the end of the game with trainers.

"We have to make a play on the ball, and that's part of being an elite-level defensive back and playing against teams that have offensive players that are going to go up and get it," Flood said. "It's not just enough to be close. You have to have the correct coverage. You have to be able to locate. You have to be able to disrupt the ball as they're trying to catch it."

So what happens next?

Cioffi and junior Gareef Glashen are the starters by default at cornerback, thrusting recently converted safety Delon Stephenson into the majority of defensive sub-packages. Stephenson played sparingly against Houston at cornerback.

Red-shirt freshman Jevon Tyree is the next man up at cornerback. Tyree spent most of his time on the scout team, but entered the conversation after Lew Toler's season-ending injury and Ian Thomas' departure.

"We could see, depending on the depth at both spots as we get into the week, the possibility of using Tejay [Johnson] back there where he had played as well."

Sophomore Johnathan Aiken replaced Waters as the strong safety for the remainder of the Houston game. Johnson has experience at both safety positions, and reserves Sheldon Royster and Brian Verbitski saw time at the end of the Norfolk State blowout.

"I think it presents a challenge for us as a staff this week, and presents a great opportunity for a guy like Jevon Tyree, for a guy like Delon Stephenson.

"[They were] two players that we recruited because we thought they were talented enough to help us win football games, and they were the right people for our program. Now they're going to get an opportunity. They're closer to the field than they've ever been, and how they perform this week in practice will dictate how much of an opportunity they get on Saturday."

Temple (1-6) does not bring the same type of offensive firepower as teams like Fresno State, SMU and Houston but is proven to be dangerous.

Quarterback P.J. Walker, an Elizabeth (N.J.) product, was being recruited as a linebacker by Rutgers out of high school. Temple was the only school to offer Walker as a quarterback, and received 297 passing yards and four touchdowns last week.

"We have looked at P.J. and P.J. is a very talented player," Flood said. "We knew that when he was in high school over at Elizabeth. He fits very well into their system and their scheme and how they play. He is a tremendous competitor and it's going to provide some challenges both throwing it and running it this week."

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