Paul James has missed the last seven weeks with a lower leg injury he suffered in the third quarter of Rutgers’ 28-24 victory over Arkansas on September 21st. Despite missing four games, James remains Rutgers’ leading rusher with 573 yards. So, you can imagine how excited Rutgers’ head coach Kyle Flood is to hear that his leading rusher is healthy enough to play this Saturday against Cincinnati.
James, a walk-on, had erupted on the scene to become one of the best running backs in the nation before the injury. He was second in the nation in rushing yardage at the time of his injury. The Scarlet Knights will need James against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed only 96.2 yards per game this season on the ground. James’ return is even more important because true freshman Justin Goodwin who had stepped up to fill James’ role as the primary back is nursing a hamstring injury and will likely miss this weekend’s matchup.
James has 78 carries for 573 yards, a 7.3 yard-per-carry average and six rushing touchdowns. He became the starter two weeks into the season after Savon Huggins, a former five-star recruit, failed to hold onto the job with lackluster performances that have pushed him to third on the depth chart behind James and Goodwin.
The return of James should also give Gary Nova a boost. Rutgers has been at its best with a strong rushing attack and with Goodwin likely out the onus will fall on James to carry the load as long as his leg holds up.
James’ injury has never been officially announced but there has been a lot of speculation that it was a broken fibula. If his leg is fully healed he should boost the Rutgers’ offense just with his presence in the backfield. James has already stated he is ready to play and is eager to get out there and do his thing. Last year during Rutgers’ 10-3 victory over Cincinnati, Huggins carried 41 times, which tied a school record, for 179 yards. If Flood leans on James in similar fashion and James is healthy there is a good chance we could see a monster day from James.