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Rutgers hopes to regain identity under Chris Ash

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From 2005 through 2012, Rutgers was known for having a tenacious defense. They were known for the Greg Schiano mantra of "Keep Chopping" and lived it. In 2006, in the biggest win in school history, they shut down the best offense in the country in the second half, giving up ZERO points in the final 30 minutes of game time. In the entire game, they gave up only 266 yards of total offense.

The Rutgers teams in that era were built the same way as the teams of the Alabama dynasty are built: elite defense, great special teams, and a power running game that would wear down defenses.

In 2015, Rutgers did not have one strong unit. The offense was severely limited by poor QB play and questionable personnel all over the field. The defense was atrocious, and responsible for many losses, including one to a future playoff team. The special teams were not so special. With the exception of Janarion Grant, they were horrendous. No one on the roster had the ability to kick a football more than 65 yards or even 60 yards straight for that matter. The punting was incredibly inconsistent. As a fan, I was uncomfortable with Kyle Federico kicking FGs from any distance.  Our scholarship long snapper puts it in the dirt way too often.

In 2013, Rutgers was weak all around, as they were consistently torched by AAC offenses. In 2014, the defensive was toughed up, but that was expected with the move to a real conference. Gary Nova, Ralph Friedgen, and the offense often made huge plays to help them win games (Michigan, UNC, Washington). The special teams would often block kicks, something unseen in 2015.

I mean, whenever Rutgers had a bad team, at least they would block kicks. In 2015, WE COULD BARELY BLOCK AN EFFIN KICK.

I have been going to Rutgers games for literally as long as I can remember, and I can never remember being more embarrassed about a team.

Against B1G champs Michigan State, I watched a group of young defensive backs get mossed play after play, because for some reason they had not been taught how to turn their heads. The crazy thing is that was the best game Joe Rossi called this year. His DBs were talented, but incredibly raw. Instead of forcing them to learn complex zone coverages, he let them play man and they did pretty well. except for playing the ball. Apparently, Joe Rossi didn't recognize that he was actually utilizing his players the right way that game because he went right back to zone for the rest of the year.

Predictably, the corners and safeties were often out of position and late to the ball. Rossi failed to realize how to call a defense and that is what has cost Rutgers its identity.

With the hire of Chris Ash, Rutgers will have a defensive guru who specializes in the secondary. His schemes at Ohio State were incredibly reliant on man-to-man corners. Guess who has long, man-to-man corners? RUTGERS DOES! He likes to leave one ball hawk safety back in coverage (FBI ANTHONY CIOFFI!) and have a strong safety come up and play in the box (KIY HESTER!!!!). With the likely addition of Patrice Rene, who Ash recruited while at tOSU, Rutgers will have another big-body CB to put out there. I'd be shocked if Rene doesn't come out and play a lot his freshman year.

Think about this, Rutgers fans: Our entire starting secondary of Blessuan Austin, All-B1G Isaiah Wharton, Kiy Hester, and Anthony Cioffi will return. 3/4 of those guys will be sophomores. Throw in young talent such as Najee Clayton, Patrice Rene, and Jarius Adams, and this is a unit with great potential. Remember, Ash helped the Ohio State pass defense go from 114th in the nation to 17th in just his first year. Rutgers pass defense was ranked 120th in 2015 and it will be interesting to see where they finish in 2016.

In that video, Chris Ash reviews his 4-3 defense. In one word, it is describes as "aggressive". When you think of the Rutgers defenses of 2006 and 2012, what words come to mind? For me, those defenses were certainly aggressive, tenacious, fiery, resilient, tough, dominant, and elite.

Think of Ohio State's defense and what they did to Rutgers the past two years. In 2015, Rutgers only mustered 293 total yards and 189 passing yards with 72 of those coming in garbage time. The only score was a garbage time TD. In 2014, Rutgers actually managed 17 points, with only a TD coming in garbage time. They had just under 200 passing yards and no passing TDs with 1 INT. In the past two years, it is safe to say that the Ohio State defenses dominated Rutgers.

While he was technically a co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, it widely accepted that he was "the guy" for the Ohio State defense. He had a little help with the gameplans, but was also the one calling every play from the box and at the end of the day had full control of the defense.

One more thing I learned while reading about Ash: he is maybe the hardest working coach in the country and his known for his discipline, attention to detail, and relentless devotion to making his players as good as they can be. Ash has wanted an opportunity to be a head coach for a while, and it is clear that he will give everything he can for Rutgers. We have a coach who is 100% committed to the team and will hold himself and everyone in the program accountable.

It seems like we got a good one!