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Saturday, August 17, 2013

As second scrimmage approaches, Savon Huggins', others' carries remain uncertain

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Savon Huggins hasn't taken a second-team snap during training camp, but Rutgers' unclear backfield makes for an interesting case study. Entering Saturday night's final team scrimmage, carries remain available.

"I'm not sure exactly what they want to do," Huggins said Thursday, "but right now I have to worry about what I have to focus on."
Savon Huggins: "(Zone-blocking options) can kind
of take a mental toll on you." (Tyler Barto)

Coordinator Ron Prince's zone-blocking system has asked the team's run personnel to do something it traditionally hasn't. Zone blocking requires linemen to block a specific area instead of an immediate defender.

Running backs must read the same gaps as linemen, seeing cutback lanes before they emerge.

"There's so many ways you can get everything done," said Huggins, who dealt with dead legs the first week of camp. "Over the course of time, it can kind of takes a mental toll on you. You have to be smart in this offense. It's not an offense for anybody you can just pick up off the street. You really have to be a smart football player (and) improvise on a lot of stuff sometimes."

The run game's first test in a game atmosphere fared poorly. Huggins salvaged an Aug. 10 scrimmage with a nine-yard touchdown but did little else. True freshman Justin Goodwin carried a game-high 16 times.

Now, Andre Civil figures to rotate reps at right guard with Chris Muller. Antwan Lowery could enter the equation at both guard spots after suffering an injured ankle early in camp.

RELATED: Defensive sub-packages could take shape after scrimmage

Flood said at media day Prince's requirements will take time, and players will have to buy in. He taught zone-blocking principles before but never to the extent they'll be featured in 2013.

Flood said Thursday that Rutgers' entire red-zone offense is installed. It remains to be seen how often Prince will turn to the run.

"I have no preference," Flood said, "other than I'd like to be a red zone team that counts by sevens."

MORE: Brandon Coleman runs 7-on-7s for first time in training camp

One thing is certain: Huggins says he will not have another planned practice off, given by Flood to selected team veterans periodically during camp.


On how many players could see time in as single backs: "To be honest with you, I don't know. Coach Prince has so many different things. I can't tell you anything in particular because I've done some things I haven't seen yet. I'm just as surprised at some of the things he puts in. I'm like, 'OK, this is pretty different.'"

On P.J. James, whom he thinks has earned a spot in the rotation"He's been doing a great job. He complements me well with his run style. We can both get the job done. One back can't get it all, but he definitely complements me."

On development of zone scheme:  "We're getting better and better and better at it. I'm starting to read blocks a lot better. I'm starting to get more comfortable with it. I'm setting up blocks off of what the defense gives me. We have to continue to get more reps of it."

On Prince's red-zone tendencies"He's very aggressive. He likes to go out there and get it."

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