Forst Says OL Gelling

PISCATAWAY -- Rutgers opens the season Thursday at Norfolk State, so game prep kicked into high gear with Saturday's practice. Afterward, junior right tackle Art Forst spoke with about one of training camp's high-priority areas for the Scarlet Knights, the development of the offensive line.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The biggest question Rutgers needed solved in training camp was how the offensive line would meld, and third-year starter Art Forst said things progressed well.

The Scarlet Knights are in full-fledged preparation for Thursday's opener against Norfolk State, and Forst, the right tackle, is pleased with the development of the unit, especially as it relates to the running game.

"I think we got better at running the ball as camp went on," Forst said. "Training camp is very much a cat-and-mouse game, and I think if you can just get better as it goes along, I think that's what makes these coaches comfortable, and also allows the young guys to do a lot of things at the running back position."

Forst was talking about freshman Jordan Thomas' rise up the depth chart through training camp. Following Saturday's practice, coach Greg Schiano named Thomas as one of three freshmen he knew would play against the Spartans.

Thomas also brings another style to the offense. Whereas incumbent Joe Martinek is more of straight ahead and physical runner, Thomas brings the speed element to the backfield.

"I think it's great for Joe, it's great for our team," Forst said. "I think it's just excellent to have different styles of backs."

But Forst acknowledged the unit is still gaining familiarity with one another since all five players – left tackle Desmond Stapleton, left guard Desmond Wynn, center Howard Barbieri, right guard Caleb Ruch and Forst – are either new starters or starting at a new position.

"It's very different," Forst said. "It's new pieces, different faces, different feeling, different dynamics with the people and where they are, different leadership. It's just different."

The Scarlet Knights averaged 3.6 yards per carry last season, and much of the offseason there are been questions about the ability of the unit.

So, are they ready?

"We don't have to be ready yet," Forst said. "We have to be ready Thursday night. Are we ready to play? I think we're positioned to be ready to play."

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