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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rutgers' Paul James' zone-blocking debut may not be coincidence

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Paul James didn't know where to sit Monday morning, his first meeting with the media during a typical luncheon setup at the team's Hale Center facility.

It won't take him long to remember if he can duplicate his 22-carry, 182-yard stat line.

The sophomore appears a match for coordinator Ron Prince's zone-based run scheme, which places a premium on patience rather than straight-line running. James worked off-tackle runs last week at Fresno State, reading offensive linemen before making quick-twitch cuts.

RELATED: Meet the man teaching Rutgers' new run scheme

While Prince figures to mix and match run schemes — gap, man and zone blocking — the zone scheme, which requires linemen to block a certain area rather than defender, will be prominent.

"It's a lot different," James said. "It's definitely something you have to focus on and learn, get the details of it. A lot of it isn't as hard as you think it is. Most of it is learning the fundamentals. Everything works out. Some people may look at it as something new, something so hard, but it's actually just going back to the basics and focusing on them."

IN PRINT: Paul James finds overnight success at Fresno State

For his part, James says he likes the change. 

Gary Nova said in late June that zone running fits Rutgers' personnel better because it doesn't have the size it wants in the power game. At 6-foot, 210 pounds, James is Rutgers' biggest back, but his play — patience through holes, understanding keys — lends itself more to zone-cut scheme.

"It's a whole lot of reads and the steps you take, reading a blocker. If he pokes his head this way, maybe you can give a fake inside and if he steps in, go outside. Or reading your blocker — if your blocker has his head on the outside, the little things that will help you a lot."

RELATED: Kaleb Johnson explains zone blocking, plus film breakdown

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