Rutgers needs a couple of player to replace Janarion Grant
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers has to replace its top playmaker on offense, and it may take more than one player to do it.
With wide receiver/kick returner Janarion Grant out for the season, Rutgers faces a major task heading to No. 2 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) on Saturday.
Grant did a little bit of everything for the Scarlet Knights (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten). A dynamic kickoff and punt returner, his role had expanded significantly this season, even handling some snaps as a wildcat quarterback. He averaged 163.8 all-purpose yards and had a hand in six touchdowns. He scored on kickoff and punt returns, ran for three and threw one.
His season came to an end in the first half against Iowa when Hawkeyes cornerback Desmond King stepped on his ankle after a 76-yard catch and run.
First-year coach Chris Ash says the loss won't change the way Rutgers looks offensively.
''We have an offensive system we believe in,'' Ash said. ''We are not going to change offensive systems. This is the blueprint of what we want the football team to look like. We are going to be a running offense, an attacking defense, we are going to have special teams the way we are.''
Of course, Ash knows some plays will be scrapped with Grant on the sidelines.
''Are there certain things we may not be able to do if certain individuals are not in there? Yeah, absolutely,'' Ash said. ''But to think we are going to go change our offensive system or defensive system because of injury, that's not going to happen.''
The entire receiving unit will have to increase its production, with John Tsimis and Andre Patton needing to step up at receiver.
No one's role will change more than Jawuan Harris. He'll replace Grant on special teams and offensively.
''Jawuan is a version of Janarion. He is not Janarion, but he is our next best version of Janarion,'' Ash said. ''He can do a lot of things, play receiver, running back and be a punt returner and a kickoff returner. He has those skill sets similar to what Janarion has. It's just the next-man-in philosophy for us. Janarion was a great player. He did a lot of great things for us. We are ready to see what Jawuan can do for us.''
The coaching staff has been preaching the next-man-up mentality. That's how Harris saw things after seeing Grant get hurt.
However, he, along with special team coordinator Vince Okruch, knows there's no ''next Grant'' on the roster.
''I wouldn't say I'm as dynamic as Janarion. Janarion is Janarion,'' Harris said. ''(But) I feel like I can do some things. Janarion is more elusive. I'm more like, get one seam and try to hit it.''�
On Monday, offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer said Grant's injury left players emotional at halftime and after the game. He's hoping that rallies the offense.
''What did Janarion give to us?'' Mehringer said. ''When we look at it from that perspective, he was part of our family, part of our unit, and on a tremendous play - you look at the play he went down on and what he was doing on that football play ... I think we as an offense - especially the wide receiver unit by itself, we owe it to him to give back what he gave to us in terms of production and ultimately his season.''
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org