Huggins Keeps Focused

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers running back Savon Huggins kept his focus during time on the bench against Houston and Temple. The result was a key role in the game-winning drive led by quarterback Gary Nova. Huggins spoke about the bye week and his chances to earn an increased role when the Scarlet Knights host Cincinnati.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers junior Savon Huggins lost his starting running back job twice to less experienced players this season. Once to sophomore Paul James and again to freshman Justin Goodwin, Huggins did not have the desired impact in the first half of 2013 after a full camp preparing as the starter.

Huggins did not let the struggles get to him, and his focus played a significant role in the comeback 23-20 victory over Temple.

Coming out in the fourth quarter cold after fumbles from two other backs, Huggins prevented two could-be sacks on quarterback Gary Nova in the winning drive. He also touched the ball four times and went 38 yards.

"I was tuned into every snap, the whole entire game," Huggins said. "As you can see, my number was called and I was ready to go. I had a meeting right before the game started, and I knew what my role was. I was prepared before I even got out there."

Huggins is not having his ideal statistical season – third on the team in rushing with 213 yards and 3.2 per carry. Lack of production or, at times, opportunities did not lessen his work or preparation.

Barely playing for seven straight quarters against Houston and Temple, Huggins said his mind was sharp when he entered the huddle needing a game-winning drive against the Owls.

"You have to just keep going and work," Huggins said. "You never know what may happen. I think, if you don't worry about playing time and just be prepared when your number is called, then everything takes care of itself. You won't be able to perform if you worry about that. My mindset is just to be in-tuned to the game."

Like Michael Burton and Justin Goodwin in recent games, Huggins went through a stretch of fumble issues, but put it behind him early in his Rutgers career.

The return of Paul James to practice reopens the door to multiple options when Rutgers takes the field against Cincinnati. Whatever happens in the competition, Huggins said he plans to be ready again if coach Kyle Flood looks his way.

"I just need to get better," Huggins said. "That's basically it. My job is to get better and watch film and continue to stay healthy and work out and get stronger. I just need to get better. That's all it is."

Huggins saw a heavy workload in two bye-week practices, with James Still limited following a lower right leg injury. Rutgers has time away during the bye weekend, and returns to practice Sunday night to prepare for Cincinnati.

"We have depth at the running back position and that is obviously a good thing," Huggins said. "At the same time, we're all just out here competing to get better as a whole."

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