Thanksgiving, the Big Ten, the aftermath of a hurricane and the oncoming of exams, focus is a non-issue for the Rutgers football team.
Rutgers has two more games before bowl season and is in the driver's seat to a Big East championship.
"The team was focus, they're moving their energy in the right direction," said coach Kyle Flood. "We had good practices and I really had the same feel this week. I think the team is focused again. I think they're in a good place emotionally."
Flood credits his strong senior class with its willingness to lead by example, but also said younger players are now stepping up as locker room figures.
"I think the maturity allows for the focus," Flood said. "… Generally the younger players will follow those old players. When there's a sense that ‘hey this is a business trip, we've got work to do. It's not a vacation' they usually get right in line. We've noticed this year that some younger players are starting to emerge as more established leaders on the team, guys like Gary Nova, Jawan Jamison, Savon Huggins, Brandon Coleman."
There were no major changes on the injury front, where Jawan Jamison is closing in on 100 percent at running back. Flood expects both Jamison and sophomore Savon Huggins to find roles in the offense Saturday.
Jamison and Huggins each have games with more than 40 rushing attempts and 150 yards this season.
"Jawan will definitely play in the game," Flood said. "He'll have a bigger role in the game than he did [last week]."
Redshirt freshman walk-on Paul James remains available, but will only likely come in for an injury situation.
"I think he's ready if called upon," Flood said. "… Until a guy actually plays in a game and shows what he can do in a game, in live action, I don't know if I would say much more beyond that."
Junior right guard Andre Civil practiced by midweek and is available for Saturday, Flood said. Sophomore Taj Alexander earned the start last week and could do so again, however.
Flood said that Alexander will start, but Civil is the first off the bench in case of injury.
Nick Borgese will start at kicker, with freshman Kyle Federico still recovering from a hip injury.
Flood released players following practice to visit their families for Thanksgiving. Athletes not within driving distance of home, he said, would be attending Thanksgiving dinner at teammates' and coaches' homes.
Rutgers regroups early tomorrow morning at the Hale Center to make the trip to Pittsburgh.
"We're going to wrap up the game plan, make sure we watch practice, make sure we're ready tomorrow because we're going to have our walkthroughs and meetings starting around 10 a.m. tomorrow morning," Flood said. "Whenever we finish up here, I'll get in the car and go to Queens and go see my family and start eating. And I may not stop for six hours."