By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Somewhat overlooked due to the injury to star running back Jawan Jamison, Rutgers could also be down an offensive lineman against Cincinnati.
Injuring his leg against Army, right guard Andre Civil’s status for the game is currently “50-50.”If Civil can’t go, Taj Alexander will start in his place.
But for an offensive line that has remained intact since training camp the injury couldn’t come at a more convenient place. Alexander has been Rutgers’ sixth offensive lineman, playing in some series, all of which have been in place of Civil. A move that has paid dividends.
“It helps because I’m used to playing with the first team. I’m getting a lot of practice reps with the ones,” Alexander said. “So I don’t miss a step when I come into the games, and I’m used to communicating with the tackle and the center so it helps a lot.”
Because of that, Alexander has been able to build chemistry with right tackle R.J. Dill.
“Me and R.J. communicate pretty well,” Alexander said. “Last time he helped me out with what I need to do and as far as pressure from the edge, he’s pretty good at picking that up, so it’s real useful having him next to me.”
His experience at USF will come in handy too. It’s where Alexander made his first career start, in the Big East opener, in primetime and on national television.
This time around, Alexander knows what to expect. And this time, his stomach won’t be churning leading up to the game.
“That built a lot of confidence,” Alexander said. “Once I got out there and I started I knew I can do this now. I feel like I’m used to it. I’m not going to have those butterflies going out there if I do start.”
And his fellow linemen have the confidence that Alexander can do his job. After all, having Alexander out there won’t be anything new.
“We’ve been through this before without Andre,” left guard Antwan Lowery said. “Taj stepped in the South Florida game and he played tremendous for us. He got a battlefield promotion – Andre went down, Taj stepped up big in the Army game and he’s in a starting role now so he has to prepare like a starter and just come out and be ready to play.”