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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Desmon Peoples gives Rutgers flexibility at running back

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — Desmon Peoples has spent so much time going up against Rutgers' first-team defense that he forgot other teams might not place the same premium on speed.

He found out against Washington State, against whom he rushed eight times for 36 yards, both career highs.

"I felt like they were going to be faster, but they were extremely slow," Peoples said, laughing. "At one point I actually got the ball, broke the line of scrimmage and a linebacker got off a block. He looked over at me and I was behind him already. He was like, 'What the hell?' It was ridiculous."

Peoples's quick-twitch bursts are his strength. They've proven a nice complement to Paul James's yards after contact, but head coach Kyle Flood sees a larger role for Peoples in the future.

"I think he has the ability to be the No. 1 back," Flood said. "He has the ability to be a premier back. I don’t think he’s a change-of-pace guy for the rest of his career." 

The glaring thing that delayed Peoples's emergence? Pass protection, he said. It is running backs coach Norries Wilson's main requirements at the position.

Now that he's a proven commodity during a game — Flood calls it "the ultimate test" — it could go a long way toward a more balanced offense, one that doesn't need to feature a 35-carry back.

"I feel like it's very important," Peoples said. "I believe that every football team can't have just one back that takes every snap. I feel like it's taken a little bit of a load off P.J. and keep him well and allow him to perform at his peak."

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