Rutgers cornerback Blessuan Austin will miss the remainder of the 2017 season after suffering a season-ending ACL injury on the road at Nebraska this past weekend. Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed the unfortunate news for the Scarlet Knights at a press conference Monday morning.
“As most of you know, Blessuan Austin came out of that game,” Ash said, per NJ.com. “It was confirmed yesterday with an MRI that he has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.”
With Austin now gone for the rest of the season just as Big Ten play opened up, Rutgers will bump Damon Hayes into the spot as a starter in the secondary.
“He played in place of Blessuan and did some good things. He has to continue to improve and develop,” Ash explained. “But I really like Damon and excited for him to go out and have this opportunity and be a full-time starter.”
Rutgers is currently ranked fifth in the Big Ten in passing defense with an average of 179.5 passing yards allowed per game, with five touchdowns allowed and five interceptions. Austin, a junior, had recorded one of those interceptions.
If Rutgers is going to pull a major stunner in the Big Ten this weekend, it will almost have to be at full strength. That could be a problem for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo is one of a handful of players that are reportedly questionable for this week’s matchup with No. 1 Ohio State in Piscataway. Carroo hurt his right ankle while scoring a touchdown in this past weekend’s wild 55-52 victory over Indiana. Per NJ.com, Carroo was seen walking around in a boot after the game, which is always cause for concern. Rutgers’ top player did say he will be playing this week against Ohio State, but will he be able to go at full speed?
Since joining the Big Ten Rutgers has been much more competitive at home than on the road. Last season the Scarlet Knights were ambushed on the road by Michigan State and Ohio State. Rutgers recently gave Michigan State a real scare, with the Spartans needing a late field goal to get out with a win in regulation. It should be expected Rutgers gives Ohio State a better contest this weekend compared to last week, especially if Ohio State continues to have ups and downs within a single game. Rutgers having a healthy Carroo could be a nice push for the upset bid, but Ohio State should still have more than enough weapons on offense to get out of New Jersey with a win.
Other Rutgers players reported to be questionable are cornerback Blessuan Austin and safety Davon Jacobs.