Rutgers Football: Now Is The Time To Start Up The Rocket, De'Antwan Williams
As a head coach, you know your running back situation is bad when you're leading rusher is a wide receiver.
Wideout Mohamed Sanu leads the team in rushing yards with 285.
Starting running back Joe Martinek has had a nagging ankle injury since the second game of the season and hasn't really done anything to help the offense besides getting tackled at the line of scrimmage.
Against South Florida, Martinek managed just nine carries for negative six yards.
"He gave us everything he had but he's just not been 100 percent," head coach Greg Schiano said in a postgame press conference.
Martinek has just 277 yards on the season, 109 of those against Norfolk State.
This brings us to the question, if Martinek can't perform well with his injury, then why do the coaches continue to play him?
Jordan Thomas isn't the answer to the Scarlet Knights' running back situation either. Thomas is a lightning-quick back ideal as a change-of-pace runner, but he isn't big enough to be an every-down back. The offense Rutgers runs requires a back that can run between the tackles, and Thomas injured his shoulder against USF while attempting to do so.
Again, is a 3.5 yards per carry average one that will cut it for a ground-and-pound defense?
The answer to Rutgers' problem running the ball is not with a healthy form of either of these running backs, but in a seldom-used back from Virginia named De'Antwan Williams.
Williams, nicknamed "The Rocket," is perfect for Rutgers' current situation on offense.
He's 5'8'', 195 pounds, and unlike Thomas and Martinek, Williams' size allows him to break through the tiny holes that Rutgers' offensive linemen open up. He's faster than Martinek, but can run between the tackles and get yards up the middle.
While watching him on TV and his large amount of highlights from high school, one can't help but be reminded of a former 5'8'', 195-pound running back from Rutgers, Ray Rice.
This season, Williams is averaging 5.7 yards per carry against Big East teams and has shown the most burst when hitting the hole than any other back.
You might ask: If Williams is so good, then why don't the coaches play him?
To tell you the truth, I have no idea, but this wouldn't be the first time that Schiano has made the wrong personnel choice.
In the first game of the 2009 season, Schiano started quarterback Dom Natale over Tom Savage. After throwing three interceptions in the first half and dooming Rutgers against Cincinnati, Savage was put in and went on to become a Freshman All-American.
That season, he started senior cornerback Billy Anderson over David Rowe, only to see that backfire, too. Rowe replaced Anderson and is now considered the second-most NFL-ready player on the entire team, according to NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper.
The entire offensive line in 2008 had to be reshuffled after failing to protect Mike Teel and causing a 1-5 start for the Knights. Some new starters and position changes gave Teel ample protection, and Rutgers won seven games straight.
Coach Schiano isn't afraid to make personnel changes, but he has been reluctant when it comes to his running backs. Isn't it time to make the switch?
If the offensive line is going to continue to struggle to open up holes and the coaches are determined to run the ball constantly, "The Rocket" must be used as the featured back.
The fate of Rutgers' season depends on it.
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