Monday Notebook: Getting Healthy

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood offered the latest on bye-week preparations during Monday morning's AAC teleconference. Flood discussed the importance of getting healthy, and staying focused on Cincinnati.

The last Rutgers bye week did not result in a strong showing when the Scarlet Knights returned to the field for Homecoming. Rutgers fell behind Houston early, and lost 49-14 in one of the poorer performances in recent years.

Rutgers now enters its final bye week of the regular season needing to come out strong for the two toughest games left on the schedule – home against Cincinnati and at UCF five days later.

"I'm not worried about the last four games of the year with the players," said head coach Kyle Flood on Monday's AAC teleconference. "We're worried about getting prepared for another tough conference game against Cincinnati. And we'll take it one game at a time."

No two bye weeks are the same, and Rutgers is 3-1 coming out of open dates since Flood took over the program.

The focus for the final bye of the 2013 season, is health.

"Each one of these bye weeks, you have to look at them individually," Flood said. "I don't think you can ever just run the same plan. I don't know if we have a philosophical bye week on paper that we use every time. This week, I think it's going to be critical that we get a little bit healthier. That's for sure. That's got to be the main objective as we go into the last four games of the season."

Rutgers limited freshman corner Anthony Cioffi (upper body) and sat safety Lorenzo Waters (ankle) for Temple, putting Ruhann Peele into a significant role at the position. That could continue for the converted receiver through the bye week despite the reinstatement of cornerback Nadir Barnwell.

"We got together as a staff this morning and we're using today to really evaluate the tape and look at our personnel," Flood said. "A lot of that [with Peele] could be dictated by how healthy we are. I'm not sure just yet exactly how healthy we are to make that decision, but we're certainly pleased with how Ruhann played. I thought he did a good job in the game."

Flood hopes to heal up at center, where Betim Bujari sprained his ankle against Temple, and running back, where leading rusher Paul James will return this week.

"The trainers think he's ready to come back to practice, and what capacity he comes back in the first day, we'll determine when we start practicing again," Flood said. "I think that will be the biggest test – just get him out there and see for ourselves. All of the work he's done so far has been with the trainers. It hasn't been with the coaches."

Offensive Player of the Week

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and receiver Leonte Carroo earned weekly AAC honors for their performances in the 23-20 victory over Temple. Nova earned his fourth career player of the week honor after 371 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

"I thought Gary made good decisions," Flood said. "I'm really pleased. I think some of the most pleasing plays are when he pulls the ball down and runs and makes positive plays with his feet. I think those are excellent decisions in the game, and I think those are decisions going forward that will allow his game to continue to grow."

Carroo made the weekly honor role after going for a career-high 147 yards and scoring the game-winning touchdown.

Kicking Competition

The kicking battle between starter Kyle Federico and backup Nick Borgese is "50-50" going into the bye week with Flood seeking more consistency on field goals.

"Whomever has the better week of practice will be the starting kicker," Flood said.

Punter Nick Marsh remains a possibility on long field goals.

Cincinnati Kickoff Announced

The Cincinnati game will be a noon kickoff at High Point Solutions Stadium, airing on ESPNews.


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