Rutgers’ loss to Ohio State a few weeks ago was bigger than just the points that were left on the scoreboard. The Jerry Kill-led offense was absolutely terrible, which left the defense on the field way longer than it should have been and it paid the price. The Rutgers secondary suffered a slew of injuries to the defensive secondary during the game.
The Scarlet Knights loss both starting safeties during the blowout loss. Safety Kiy Hester was around the goal line when he pulled up limp, still managing to defend the pass that was headed his way. Hester then tried to walk it off before essentially falling back down to the ground to wait for the training staff. Coach Chris Ash stated after the game that the bye week would aid in the redshirt junior’s recovery. Also continuing on to say that the he will be 100% ready to go after the bye, so he’s expecting to start this week. Which is great, as he leads the team in interceptions, taking one of those back for a score.
The bigger loss came at the other safety position, where Saquan Hampton will be lost for an extended period of time. Hampton is said to have injured his shoulder after making consecutive tackles on the opening drive of the game. The redshirt junior missed five games last season after injuring the opposite shoulder. Hampton currently ranks third on the team in tackles, and also owns three pass break-ups this season.
After each left the game Rutgers was left in a panic with a shortage of defensive backs. Ash dug into his wide receiver depth pairing Rashad Blunt with defensive back Lawrence Stevens, neither of whom played any meaningful snaps yet in their careers, to replace the tandem.
While Hester is expected back, depth is still an issue. K.J. Gray will slot in to the safety spot vacated by Hampton to start alongside Hester. While two-sport superstar Jawuan Harris is preparing to be a backup safety this upcoming week as an emergency option for the Scarlet Knights.
This all comes after Rutgers loss their best piece to the secondary in Blessaun Austin to a torn ACL during a loss to Nebraska. What was once a strength of the defense now becoming one devoid of depth. Don’t be surprised if Ash brings one of his true freshman into the fold, forgoing the option to redshirt.
Rutgers will travel to take on head coach Lovie Smith and Illinois this Saturday, October 14 at noon.