By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – As Rutgers begins their first bye week, they’ll be doing so looking for a new starting fullback. Head coach Kyle Flood announced Michael Burton is done for the year with a lower leg injury.
“Michael Burotn is done for the year unfortunately for us,” Flood said. “He’s done a great job for us as our fullback and he’s got a lower leg injury that’s not going to recover in time for us this year.”
The starting fullback was injured during the Arkansas game. Flood did not say if Burton — three catches for 34 yards and two rushes for nine yards on the season — would have surgery or not and is unsure if he’ll be able to receive a medical redshirt.
As for the fullback pecking order, redshirt sophomore Sam Bergen is the next man in line to fill the void that Burton leaves.
“We’ve got a couple guys that play there. It’s going to give Sam Bergen an opportunity. We moved [linebacker] Robert Joseph back there today to take a look at him and we’re going to evaluate through the week and hopefully come up with a plan closer to game week on Sunday.”
One of the guys that could be part of the plan is tight end Paul Carrezola, who’s already seen some snaps at fullback in certain packages.
“I think Paul’s a smart football player. I think he’ll be able to do that,” Flood said. “I think he’s doing it already. That’s not a secret.”
It’s also no secret that Rutgers likes incorporate their fullback into their pro-style offense.
“Anytime you lose a quality player it always impacts you because you want to get the ball ultimately to your best players on your team and he’s a guy who hasn’t caught a lot of passes but a lot of the passes he caught were in critical situations and he can makes things happen after he catches it,” Flood said. “But we still do want to play football the way we play so we’re going to have to find someone to fill that role so that we can continue to do what we do at least in the two back sets.”
Note: Flood said running back Savon Huggins (lower leg) is likely to return this week. Defensive lineman Max Issaka (undisclosed) was back at practice along with Al Page (lower leg) while Kenneth Kirksey (lower leg) is “probably a couple weeks away.”