Despite staff turnover, Scarlet Knights should be a favorite in Big East

The Sports Xchange

Rutgers was one of the last teams to kick off spring practice, which makes sense because no team had more change following its season than the Scarlet Knights.

For starters, the Scarlet Knights had to overhaul the coaching staff following Greg Schiano's departure to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kyle Flood is in his first year as a head coach. Greg Brock and Robb Smith are new as the offensive and defensive coordinators. Considering only two coaches on the staff were with the team a year ago, the spring will be a getting-to-know-you session as much as anything else.

"Because of when our spring break was, our spring practice is a little bit later than I think most teams in the country, which is fine. There's no negative to that," Flood said. "But it has made us wait a little bit more. It has kind of built the anxiousness in me. And that's just me personally because I'm going through it for the first time."

He'll have more than his share of challenges and position battles. Quarterback, for example. Chas Dodd and Gary Nova passed the job back and forth all season long in 2011, and Flood doesn't expect to finalize that decision until the fall. Similar fights will take place in the backfield between Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins, and on the offensive line.

The offense itself will look similar, as Brock utilizes the pro-style set. But replacing Mohamed Sanu won't be easy, and working through the terminology will be one of the challenges of the spring.

Defensively, the team has fewer questions. This should be a strength of the team this fall. But it's also important to note that the unit was awful in 2010 and will need to expand upon the uptick in performance it enjoyed a year ago.

Even with the new staff and the uncertainty under center, the Scarlet Knights should be one of the favorites in the Big East next season. It's a standard that the new coaching staff appreciates.

"I feel that the time is right for Rutgers to win championships," Flood said. "My saying that doesn't make it happen. But those are the expectations of our program. Where we are at right now in our program, we need to prove that we can do that. I think our players understand that. We embrace the expectations. I think if you ask any college football player in the country if they want to win a championship next year, I think they'd all tell you yes. And I think our players are no different. They'd tell you the same thing."

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