Rutgers Scarlet Knights spring wrap

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
9:00
AM ET
Rutgers Scarlet Knights

2012 record: 9-4

2012 conference record: 5-2

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 4; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Gary Nova, RB Savon Huggins, WR Brandon Coleman, OL Andre Civil, OL Betim Bujari, DT Jamil Merrell, LB Jamal Merrell

Key losses

RB Jawan Jamison, WR Mark Harrison, WR Tim Wright, TE D.C. Jefferson, DT Scott Vallone, LB Khaseem Greene, LB Steve Beauharnais, CB Logan Ryan, CB Marcus Cooper, CB Brandon Jones, S Duron Harmon

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Jamison (1,075 yards, 4 TDs)

Passing: Nova* (221-of-388 for 2,695 yards, 22 TDs, 16 INTs)

Receiving: Coleman* (718 yards, 10 TD)

Tackles: Greene (136)

Sacks: Greene (6)

Interceptions: Brandon Jones (5)

Spring answers

1. Nova taking next step. The signal-caller shed 15 pounds and adapted well to new coordinator Ron Prince, putting behind a poor finish to the 2012 season and impressing in the spring game. He expressed more confidence this spring, and the staff was pleased with the quicker, more assertive man under center despite having to break in a new crop of receivers.

2. Huggins ready to fill hole. It would appear to be now or never for the third-year back, and he delivered this spring in getting the bulk of the carries. Huggins rushed for 73 yards and a score on 16 carries in the spring game, and the staff is confident in his ability to replace Jamison, especially with all of the experience Rutgers boasts up front.

3. New coordinators integrated. It seems as if Rutgers is turning over key pieces of its staff every year, and 2013 will be no different. Prince is in at offensive coordinator, and Dave Cohen is the fourth different playcaller for the program in as many seasons. Still, adjustments have seemingly been minimal, as Cohen served as an assistant on last year's unit and plans to keep the aggressive approach that landed them the No. 10 spot nationally in total defense.

Fall questions

1. Defensive playmakers. Rutgers had four defensive players taken in the NFL draft, including the heart and soul of the unit, Greene. Replacing the production of Greene and Beauharnais at linebacker (219 combined tackles, seven sacks, three picks, four fumble recoveries in 2012 alone) is no easy task on a unit that ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense.

2. Receiving depth. Coleman, the Scarlet Knights' top returning receiver, was sidelined all spring following minor offseason knee surgery. Outside of him, however, Rutgers returns just two wideouts (Quron Pratt, Miles Shuler) with any significant game action.

3. Special-teams impact. It's tough to grasp this based on 15 spring practices, but Rutgers needs to continue its playmaking on special teams. Head coach Kyle Flood has said that blocking kicks is part of the program's nature, as it has had more than 30 since 2009 and made a number of momentum-turning plays on the third side of the ball in close wins in 2012.

Matt Fortuna | email

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