Practice in the Bubble

Tuesday's practice was held in the bubble with Rutgers' first road game coming up this weekend against Syracuse. The Orangemen play in the Carrier Dome, so perhaps RU Head Coach Greg Schiano was getting his team prepared for the noise level and the feel of football in the dome.

The players felt like practicing in the dome would provide them with some good preparation for Saturday.

"I definitely think it gets you ready," Rutgers linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "Cause when you come outside it is 50 or 60 degrees, nice and cool, nice breeze. Go into a dome there is no wind, it is kind of loud, it echoes, and things like that."

The practice was used to get a lot of different players into the mix that had not been as involved, either due to injury or other reasons.

The fullback position is up for grabs right now as freshman Andres Morales is back in the fold after coming back from injury. Jack Corcoran has been the starter, but senior Jean Beljour is getting more reps in practice and could be in line to start against Syracuse. Beljour received significant time against Cincinnati this past week.

"Bell was a high school running back," Coach Schiano said. "Bell is an athletic guy. Bell has had a consistency issue over the years. I think he has matured. On special teams, he is one of our real leaders now. So if he can do it there, there is no reason he can't do it on offense."

Linebacker Ryan D'Imperio is very close to being ready to being back where he needs to be. D'Imperio is continuing to get involved in the mix of linebackers, along with sophomore Blair Bines who began practicing a couple of weeks ago and has been recovering from a broken jaw.

"As a unit it gives you more depth," Renkart said. "We can get rest in a series during a game. You don't have to go 80 plays straight. It helps knowing that if someone goes down, you have a good backup."

Despite losing two straight games in a row, Renkart felt that his defense is close to where they need to be the rest of the season.

"Personally, I thought the defense took a big step in the game on Saturday with having that fight because we fought all the way," Renkart said.

Playing Syracuse this week will perhaps provide some of these players with the chance to show what they have before two tough games in a row, with South Florida and West Virginia coming to Rutgers Stadium in consecutive weeks.

Coach Schiano will not take the Orangemen lightly though. He has seen that Syracuse can hit plays and will guard against that.

"When they have had success, it has been because they have hit big plays," Coach Schiano said. "Their kickoff team is really good and their defense flies around. They are feast or famine. They really play well at times and at other times teams hit plays on them."

Syracuse has only recorded one victory this season and it was against Louisville. The fact that the Orange did upset the Cardinals, serves as notice to the rest of the Big East to not take any team lightly, or else one can incur a difficult loss.

Add to that, Rutgers will be playing in a dome for the first time this season and there is always reason to worry as a head coach.

"We haven't been there in a couple years," Coach Schiano said. "It has always been tough to me. If you can get even 30,000 in there, it is tough to play."

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