Following the first scrimmage of fall training camp, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was I more candid than usual. In addition, Schiano spoke on several position group battles and offered some clarity as to the current status. Here are a few to review.
Schiano offered the most clarity regarding kicker. Incumbent Jude McAtamney was 12 of 18 on field goal attempts last season. While he showed off his big leg at times, he struggled from between 30-40 yards. As of now, it’s redshirt freshman Jai Patel that is emerging as the top place kicker. The South Brunswick native was a First Team All-State selection his senior year of high school.
“Jai is the first kicker in terms of placekicking,” Schiano said. “I think he’s doing a good job. Jude is the kickoff guy and then Flynn is the punter. Right now, that’s where we stand. Will it stay that way? I’m not sure. They’re always competing.”
On the left side, both tackle Hollin Pierce and guard Curtis Dunlap Jr. switched over after starting last season on the right side. Ireland Brown is back at center. However, the guard and tackle spots on the right side is up for grabs.
“Intense battles,” Schiano said of the right guard and right tackle.
The competition for starting right guard is between Mike Ciaffoni and Kobe Asamoah. At right tackle, it’s between Tyler Needham and Kamar Missouri.
Schiano has indicated previously he prefers a clear starting five that can form a cohesive unit this season.
It was clear entering training camp that Johnny Langan and Shawn Bowman were the top options at tight end. Langan caught a touchdown from Wimsatt on this play.
Schiano said, “Johnny and Shawn have done some good things. They need to do some things better.”
However, he spoke about the need to develop Victor Konopka. He has great size but missed most of last season with a serious injury. And there was no mention of Mike Higgins. It does seem that Rutgers will use the tight end position more readily this season. How strong they’ll be in that unit remains to be seen.
Special Teams Returners
While Schiano hasn’t named potential players in the return game this season, he wasn’t pleased with how that group performed on Saturday.
“No it’s not settled. And I didn’t think we did a very good job in the return game. We put two of them on the ground. That will lose a game for you.”
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