Martinek, who ran for 967 yards as a red-shirt sophomore but had a propensity to bounce runs toward the sideline, is running straight forward, and showing some elusiveness.
"I'm trying to get north and south as quick as possible,'' Martinek said, "get my shoulders square, and if I have to, put my shoulder into someone, or try to make them miss. I feel real comfortable. It's one of those things were the pads fit well. I feel quicker, I feel stronger, I feel faster.''
Martinek averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns last season, and Schiano said one of the goals he had for the running backs was to improve to the point they could get more yards than what was blocked.
So, with an eye toward making defenders miss, Martinek spent the last few months doing footwork drills, and learning how better visualize what he will do on the practice field.
"Foot speed, foot quickness, just having a plan before it happens,'' Martinek said when asked how he becomes more elusive. "Sitting in the meeting room, or at night, you're just visualizing breaking through the line, and what are you going to do next? ‘'
Schiano said he noticed the difference in Martinek's elusiveness, but still wants to see an ability to run over tacklers.
"I think where Joe's improved is he's done some things in the open field, where he's made some guys miss, that's been good,'' Schiano said. "We still need to be able to run some guys over in goal line situations and those things. You've got to be able to win one-on-one with the back on the linebacker.''
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said defensive end Marcus Witherspoon left the program. The one-time high school all-American out of Holy Spirit (Absegami, N.J.) will finish the semester at Rutgers before moving on.
"I don't think Marcus is going to be able to stick around with us,'' Schiano said. "He's had some personal issues. He's going to finish the semester and see where he's going to land. It's not going to be playing football, though.''
Where is everyone?
With Kordell Young, Mason Robinson and De'Antwan Williams all limited because of knee surgeries, Martinek is the lone scholarship running back participating in all the spring drills.
"When you look out there in the stretch lines, there's not too many of us out there,'' he said. "We have a great group. I'm trying to help some of the younger guys to step up because they're going to get a lot of time now, a lot of opportunities, so I'm trying to coach them and teach them what I've learned.''
Schiano continued to heap praise on a trio of young players (receivers Tim Wright and Quron Pratt and cornerback Logan Ryan) for their play this spring …All three scrimmages, including the April 24 spring game, will take place inside Rutgers Stadium. Only the spring game is open to the public.