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Monday, April 28, 2014
Spring game recap: Rutgers

By Brian Bennett

Spring practice 2014 is now just a memory for the Big Ten, and we've recapped every spring game so far. Our 14th and final recap takes us to Piscataway, N.J., to check in on new league member Rutgers.

The White team defeated the Scarlet squad 21-0 before about 11,500 fans at High Point Solutions Stadium. You can find coverage of the game here, here and here.

Star of the game: Running back Desmon Peoples had 109 all-purpose yards, including 85 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Desmon Peoples
Desmon Peoples rushed for 85 yards in the Rutgers spring game.
How it went down: The biggest news from the spring game -- other than offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen's absence due to kidney stones -- was that head coach Kyle Flood said quarterback Gary Nova would be his starter if the season kicked off today. Nova, a senior, had a huge experience lead in the three-way spring competition and used that to his advantage. Nova was 6-of-13 for 78 yards in the spring game and rushed for a score.

"I like the fact that Gary is making good decisions," Flood said. "I think he threw one interception in 14 practices and the first half of the spring game. I think that's a pretty good job. It's hard to do that without making good decisions. He's protecting the football and I think his location has been good."

Peoples also opened a lot of, um, people's eyes this spring. The Scarlet Knights are deep at tailback, and Paul James, Savon Huggins and Justin Goodwin all were limited during the spring because of injuries. Peoples took the opening and literally ran with it, and the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is in line to see a bigger role this fall because of it.

Receiver Janarion Grant led all receivers with 45 yards on three catches, though he had some drops. A special-teams dynamo last season, Grant could be an important part of the offense with his speed if he continues to develop as a wideout.

"He's light years from where he started," Flood said. "When you're not necessarily in the the top four or five receivers, it's hard to make the progress you'd like to make. That's the nature of the season. With the graduation of Brandon Coleman and Quron Pratt, he becomes a very valuable guy for us."

The defense, not surprisingly, had the upper hand most of the day. Freshman defensive end Kemoko Turay displayed his talent with three sacks, and defensive tackle Darius Hamilton continued to be disruptive. He led the White team with four tackles.

Rutgers still needs to make strides in its passing game and secondary as well as building overall depth to get ready for its inaugural Big Ten season. With the spring game in the books, that day draws ever closer.