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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rutgers' Josh Hicks breakout game comes on heel of adjusted running style

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — The last time Josh Hicks remembers falling backward on a run was during his junior year of high school. And it took two guys to do so.

Rutgers' freshman running back, then at Palmetto (Fla.) High, was playing against Riverview when one player hit him up high while another took out his legs.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," Hicks said. "I got hit and fell backward and injured my ankle. That day forward, I always told myself to fall forward."

On Saturday, Hicks made good on his promise by rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries — all season highs — playing with Rutgers' first-team offense for the first time.

Pairing with Robert Martin, Hicks often finished runs against Indiana with a bruising style between and outside the tackles. But he had to adjust his form during training camp.

"In high school, I was like a speed back," Hicks said. "But here, everyone is fast and everyone has power. I just have to run hungry and finish the runs."

Head coach Kyle Flood said Sunday that this week his staff will figure out a rotation — four backs played Saturday — and fumbles by Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples will be taken into account.

"Hicks and Martin — some yards after contact, making a couple guys miss in the open field, some explosive runs," Flood said. "I think the other thing that was significant was Robert didn't have any negative-yardage plays and I think Josh only had one. If you have enough positive runs, at some point you're going to have the opportunity to make a big one."

More notes from Flood's conference call
— Injured players Nadir Barnwell, Andrew Turzilli and Peoples will be evaluated by Rutgers' medical staff and will be part of an updated injury report Monday.

— There wasn't a reason tight end Tyler Kroft was targeted more against Indiana. "Every week it's a priority for us, and if the scheme ... and the reads allow us to, we want to get Tyler the ball," Flood said.

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