Working Towards A Strong Finish

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Subtract three-fifths of your offensive line and produce similar if not better results from last season. If this sounds like an impossible task, see Rutgers football program, which faced this daunting mission in the off season.

"Our expectation for this year to a lot of people seems (high), but every year is different," guard/tackle Mike Gilmartin said earlier this week. "You can't base your expectation levels off what we did last year because all the guys we had last year aren't around anymore."

Actually, left tackle Anthony Davis and center Ryan Blaszczyk have returned to their starting roles. Yet, they have lost linemates Pedro Sosa, Jeremy Zuttah and Mike Fladell, who posed a dynamic threat to opposing players during their stay here.

Yet only six (or seven) games remain on the fifth-year senior Gilmartin's schedule. With a 1-5 record thus far and prospects for another Bowl appearance fading, he confidently prepares himself for the final stretch of his collegiate career.

"I only have six games left at Rutgers and I'm trying to do everything that I can do to be able to make the best of these last six games," Gilmartin said. "Looking back at it down the road, I'll note to myself that I did everything I could to help the team, and there's gonna be no regret."

Originally assigned at right tackle for the 2008 season, Gilmartin started there for four games, then shifted to right guard for one game, before true freshman Art Forst replaced him on the offensive line.

"As long as he performs the way I think he's capable this week, he's the starter," head coach Greg Schiano said of Forst, during Monday's press conference.

Don't count Gilmartin out yet.

"I don't know. He might be one of the five by the end of the week," Schiano said of Gilmartin's status. But he's certainly a guy that we feel comfortable playing. Where that is, I think it could be any number of spots."

Gilmartin feels the same way, whether Schiano situates him on either side to protect quarterback Mike Teel or clear room for the Scarlet Knights' backfield tandem of Kordell Young and Jourdan Brooks.

"Since I got here, I've played every position but center," he said. "I feel comfortable with what's asked of me."

Always the first to criticize his own blocking techniques, Gilmartin continues to study film, tie his laces and practice with intensity.

"I am critical of myself more than anybody else (is of me), but when I know I did the right thing, I gave the team the best opportunity to do the play," he said. "I do what I can and I can't control anybody else."

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