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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rutgers' struggling Big Ten run game could yet feature Josh Hicks

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto 
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY Kyle Flood thinks the issue is bigger than only one player, but he's moving freshman Josh Hicks back to running back to make sure.

Hicks, who spent the last month at safety, could be part of a four-back committee along with classmate Robert Martin, who led Rutgers in rushing and touches last week against Wisconsin.

"I definitely take it as a good thing because I know Coach Flood's going to put the best man out there," Martin said Tuesday. "As long as I and the rest of the running backs compete, then the best man's going to win. Everybody's going to be fine with that because everybody's going to get a chance."

In five Big Ten games, Rutgers is averaging 3.2 yards per carry. Only once has a running back scored in the first half.

Flood said as many as eight offensive linemen have been in Rutgers' practice rotation.

"Do I think we can do more at the running back position? Do I expect more? I do," Flood said. "I think this bye week will hopefully give us the opportunity to sort some things out and make sure we have the right people out there."

Flood said earlier in the season it was difficult to envision playing three running backs with Paul James monopolizing carries. But now with an unclear pecking order Desmon Peoples had been the starter of choice — he could now work in four.

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"I definitely take it as a challenge because I know the running back is supposed to help the offense a lot when it comes to pass protection and just running the ball," Martin said. "I know we have a big role and I know we can accept the challenge."

Each back in Rutgers' committee said they prefer Rutgers' drive-by-drive substitution method because it allows them to get in a better rhythm.

That leads to a fluctuation in snaps — and touches by association — since all drives aren't created equal. It's a strategy that could add another plus-one next week against Indiana.

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