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Five offensive players who could have bigger roles against Temple



Photo credit Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As week two against Temple on Saturday night approaches, here are five players on offense who could play larger roles for Rutgers than they did in the season opener.

WR JaQuae Jackson

The projected No. 1 wide receiver had just one catch for 4 yards in his Rutgers debut. He took a pretty big hit on his lone reception and only played 11 snaps in the game. Half of which were run blocking late which was at least a good sign he was physically fine. It seems likely offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will look to get Jackson more involved in this game. His potential to make an impact in the passing game this season is still high. Getting Jackson going on Saturday would be a positive development for the offense as they need him to make an impact this season.

WR Ian Strong

The true freshman caught both passes thrown his way against Northwestern. The first was an early contender for catch of the year and the second was a diving catch highlighting his full skill set. With Rutgers running the ball much of the second half with a big lead, Strong only played 16 snaps in his collegiate debut. The 6’3″ receiver has Rutgers fans excited for his future. Expect strong to be more of a focal point in the passing attack for Rutgers on Saturday against Temple.

TE Shawn Bowman

The tight end transfer from Maine played 29 snaps, but was used as a pass and run blocker in 27 of them. He had a key block on Kyle Monangai’s 15 yard touchdown run and had a couple other impactful blocks as well. However, Bowman wasn’t used in the pass game at all. He was effective at the FCS level catching the ball in the middle of the field on short to intermediate routes. Greg Schiano hinted at the offense not showing more than they needed to against Northwestern. It’s possible Rutgers could keep Bowman more hidden than not once again versus Temple. Even so, getting him a target or two would give Virginia Tech something else to game plan for and establish some connection with quarterback Gavin Wimsatt. While Johnny Langan is the No. 1 tight end, I do think getting Bowman involved as a secondary receiver would help long term.

RB Sam Brown 

After a season ending foot injury that Brown needed the entire offseason to recover from, he wasn’t quite ready for the season opener. He was listed as questionable on the pregame availability report and was warming up on the field prior to kickoff. Schiano said of Brown after the Northwestern game, “Sam probably in a pinch could have gone, but he hasn’t practiced very much. He seemed to be good at the beginning, and then, you know, we had a little setback, but I think we are back on track now with him.” Whether he plays against Temple remains to be seen. While he obviously shouldn’t return until he’s ready, getting him some carries this week would certainly be a positive if he’s able to go.

RB Aaron Young

Rutgers was also wiithout Aaron Young in the Northwestern game. We won’t have an update on his or Brown’s status until 2 hours before kickoff on Saturday. Schiano said of Young after Sunday’s win, “Aaron had something just late in the week. He was all set to go.” Hopefully that means it was a minor issue and Young will be on the field on Saturday night. While Rutgers will likely hold either out if there are any concerns at all, the sooner these two backs can get on the field, the better obviously.

C Ireland Brown

The expected starter at center for Rutgers played just one snap against Northwestern per Pro Football Focus. Gus Zilinskas started instead of Brown and played the additional 73 snaps on offense at center. Schiano was asked on Tuesday about Zilinskas starting over Brown and said, “He gave us the best chance to win, and again that’s what it comes down to every time when a personnel decision is made. It’s strictly based on that, so what he did that was more consistent. That’s what you’re looking for.” Rutgers played ten offensive linemen against Northwestern. It will be interesting to see if that rotation tightens and whether Brown earns more snaps after a short week of practice.

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