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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 101 ers Rutgers. Bolin has six career starts and played in 17 games for the Cardinals before being bumped by Lamar Jackson, who won the Heisman last year. Bolin threw for about 2,000 yards and 13 TDs at Louisville, but freshman Johnathan Lewis and last season's starter Gio Rescigno could be in the mix, too. "Training camp will ultimately decide who will start, but don't expect Jerry Kill to stick with a guy who is un- productive," Deren said. "That could make for a game of musical quarterbacks before the season is over." Whichever player emerges as the starter, there are potential playmakers at receiver. Jawuan Harris led the team with 39 catches for 481 yards last season, totals that led Big Ten freshmen. Fifth-year seniors Janarion Grant, coming off injury, and Damon Mitchell, an Arkansas grad transfer and converted running back, as well as four-star freshman Bo Melton are intriguing options. But will it be enough for Kill, the eighth offensive co- ordinator in as many seasons, to transform an offense? Especially with three new starters on the offensive line? "The biggest challenge will be competing against a bunch of defenses that simply have more talent," Deren said. "If Kill can tailor the offense to player strengths, he could find a way for Rutgers to be more competitive and win some of its contests outside of the Big Ten elite. Many believe that Kill will be the primary reason that Rutgers will be improved in 2017. He will also need to find a way to protect his quarterback as the O-line has some question marks. "The challenges will not be few, which is why a lot of the offensive success is likely to be determined by how crafty Kill can be through the fall." The defense has 12 scholarship linebackers, and all three starters are back, led by juniors Trevor Morris (102 tackles) and Deonte Roberts (95 tackles). There appears to be a potential lockdown corner in Blessuan Austin, a big, physical player whom opponents "rarely completed a pass to the player he was covering" last season, Deren said. But the line desperately needs players to emerge as pass rushers and run-stoppers for the defense to truly evolve. But even if the offense increases its production and the defense boosts its pressure and does a better job keeping opponents out of the end zone, will that be enough to see better results in 2017? Maybe, maybe not. "Success will be defined by progress," Deren said. "Progress means winning more than two games and not getting annihilated against the giants in the Big Ten East. No one is expecting this team to compete for a top spot in the division. However, fans are expecting to see a team that shows improvement. Four wins is a realistic expectation this season and as long as there are no embarrassing blowouts, Year No. 2 under Ash will be deemed a success." — Stacy Clardie

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