Rutgers enters the 2010-11 season with a few question marks on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line is inexperienced and lacks cohesiveness, while the receiving core, which was already young and unproven, lost slated starter and Rivals All-Spring Team member Tim Wright. The running game, on the other hand, is filled with proven talent.
It all starts with hometown hero "Jersey" Joe Martinek. Martinek was the starter last year and got the bulk of the carries in Piscataway. He will again be the starter for the Scarlet Knights and look to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark which he came so close to in 2009.
The rest of the running back depth chart is all but set. There are six other RB's vying for the second spot behind Joe Martinek.
My pick would be rising Sophomore De'Antwan Williams. Williams underachieved as a true freshman, but he has shown that he is a home run threat. This big play ability could complement Martinek's grind-it-out style.
The second backup candidate is Casey Turner. Turner, a true freshman, is a speedy back who can fight off would-be tacklers. He also never gives up on plays, always moving his legs. He, like Williams, is a big play threat.
The third back in the pecking order is Jordan Thomas, another true freshman. Thomas is great at getting to the outside and turning the corner for a big gain. He can also become a third down back because he played wide receiver in high school.
The only problem with Thomas is that he suffered an injury that caused him to be sidelined indefinitely. There was no word on a timetable for his return, so I'm not sure if he's out for camp or for the season.
The next back in line for the backup spot is Kordell Young, a fifth-year senior who has been hampered by knee injuries throughout his RU career. He will look to be in the mix for carries, if he can stay healthy. His role for the Scarlet Knights would be a third down back.
As fellow Rutgers writer Josh Rosenberg said, "When he was healthy, he was great at blocking. Notice how the game he got injured in and went down (for the season) was against USF, and then after that, Savage got noticeably worse against Syracuse, Louisville, and West Virginia. That was because they had to play in a lot of two tight end sets for extra protection, which gave Savage fewer options in the passing game."
Josh also pointed out how Savage threw the bulk of his interceptions after Young's injury. Basically, he is the third down back if his knees hold up.
The final two RB's in the chase for the backup are true freshman Jawan Jamison and redshirt junior Mason Robinson. They both have significant concerns, which is why they are at the tail end of the race for carries. Jamison is shifty and speedy, but Greg Schiano has voiced concerns regarding his conditioning.
Mason Robinsion has disappointed ever since becoming a Scarlet Knight. He came in as a four-star recruit and has not shown why. He also has injury concerns after being sidelined last season after Rutgers' first game against Cincinnati.
As you can see, the Rutgers tailback depth situation is still up in the air. Joe Martinek has nailed down the starting job, but the second string spot is still up for grabs. I've given you my depth chart. So, how do you think this will play out?
Please feel free to comment on what the order might look like.
Also, check out this article, and all of the other articles at Sportshaze.com.