Prior to Sunday’s win over Northwestern, several notable players were listed on the availability report for Rutgers released by the Big Ten. Running back Aaron Young was listed as out while Sam Brown was listed as questionable. Backup Al Shadee-Salaam didn’t play either out of the backfield. In addition, FCS transfer wide receiver Naseim Brantley was listed as out.
In Greg Schiano’s postgame press conference, he addressed their absences, as well as the injury that defensive lineman Wesley Bailey suffered in the game. Also, defensive line coach Marquise Watson missed the game and Schiano addressed that as well.
“Sam [Brown V] and Aaron [Young] are both going to be okay but they just weren’t ready,” Schiano explained.
“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,” Schiano emphasized.
“Aaron had something just late in the week. He was all set to go, and then we got Shorty back, Salaam, we got him back just a couple days ago,” Schiano said. “He had been down with a little leg situation. So yeah, it’s been a little bit of musical chairs.
“I think Coach Ciarrocca and the offensive staff did a great job,” stressed Schiano. “There were some other guys out on offense, as well; and juggling the people and making sure we had guys in the game that knew what we were doing. I’m anxious to get everybody going and get going at full strength soon.”
Brown had a season ending foot injury just over 10 months ago. While Schiano and Brown said he was healthy before training camp began, no injury recovery is guaranteed only forward progress. Brown did warm up on the field before the game, so it does appear he isn’t too far away from returning.
As for Young, you have to feel for him at this point. He’s struggled to stay healthy his entire Rutgers career. Schiano praised him earlier in the preseason. I think he can be a real weapon both in the run and pass game this season. It does seem like he had a minor tweak and hopefully is back as soon as next week, but that remains to be seen.
Shadee-Salaam has explosiveness and it sounds like he’s working his way back from some type of injury. If and when Rutgers has all three backs at their disposal along with Kyle Monangai and Ja’shon Benjamin, the offense will have lots of options to mix and match out of the backfield which would make this group a true strength.
“Yeah, Naseim has an issue, an NCAA issue, and I’m going to hold comment right now on about because I’m about fuming; you could fry an egg on my head with that whole situation,” explained Schiano. “I’ll shut up before I get in trouble. Naseim, got me so mad, I lost track.”
Obviously doesn’t sound positive. Whatever the potential NCAA issue is regarding Brantley’s eligibility, not having it resolved yet is concerning. The FCS all-conference receiver was expected to start for Rutgers this season. How long it takes to get him back, if at all, will depend on what type of role he can ultimately earn. If Schiano is this mad about it, then this definitely took the program by surprise.
“Wesley, yeah, I think it’s not something that’s serious but I think it be something that will hurt a lot more tomorrow than it does today” said Schiano. “We’ll see. Obviously we have this short week. So, great to have the national audience and the only game in town, but not so great to have a six-day week coming up. But we’ll do everything we can to get our guys ready.”
Bailey had two tackles, a pass break up and a quarterback hit in the game before leaving with an undisclosed injury. Schiano’s comments seem like Bailey will likely be at best questionable for Saturday’s game against Temple. He gives Rutgers a physical player coming off the edge and would be a loss for the defense. That being said, RU does have options behind Bailey including Kenny Fletcher and Mo Toure, both of whom had sacks in the win over Northwestern.
First off, Marquise Watson had to miss the game today due to a health situation but our prayers go out to him. Optimistic he’s going to be back with us and be okay, but that was really hard for him and really hard for the D-Linemen. They have a unique relationship, that group, I was really proud of the D-Linemen the way they handled it. Coach Jared Keyte stepped in and did an incredible job, so I’m proud of the D-Line for the way they come together and didn’t let that have an effect.
Coach Watson has been very effective for the program both on the recruiting trail and in coaching the defensive line. The unit looked really good on Sunday and Watson’s a big reason why. He’s a valuable member of the coaching staff and extremely well liked within the program. Wishing him a speedy recovery and hope he’s back on the field soon.
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