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Rutgers Offense Keeps Pro-Style Tradition

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Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With the Scarlet Knights starting spring practice on March 26, Rutgers fans are wondering: what will the offense look like under Ron Prince, the program's fourth coordinator in as many years? How much will the offense change?

In the big picture, it shouldn't change much philosophically. Rutgers has used a pro-style, run-first offense since the Greg Schiano days, and Kyle Flood is of the same mold. A long-time offensive line coach, Flood wants a smashmouth offense that relies on a strong running attack. Prince will continue that tradition.

Like Flood, Prince is a career offensive line coach. He spent the last three years as an assistant offensive line coach in the NFL and has experience as a head coach (Kansas State) and offensive coordinator (Virginia).

Rutgers was 107 (out of 124 teams) in FBS in yards per game in 2012, including 106 in rushing and 88 in passing. Both rankings should improve in 2013 with the development of Gary Nova and Savon Huggins.

Leading rusher Jawan Jamison left early for the NFL, but Huggins, a former four-star recruit, should be ready to seize the workhorse role in the running game. A rising junior, Huggins ran for 410 yards last season as the second-leading rusher. If Huggins can become a reliable force between the tackles this season, the biggest beneficiary will be Nova, a rising junior who enters his second season as a full-time starter.

A pocket passer, Nova will be more effective with a steady weapon on the ground, which the Knights recruited Huggins to be. By wearing down defenses and being a threat to break the long run, Huggins will allow Nova to complete more play-action passes and connect downfield. The Knights should return four starting offensive linemen (redshirt senior right tackle R.J. Dill was the only starter whose eligibility is up), which should give Prince, Nova and Huggins the pieces they need to improve the offense in 2013.