Rutgers has lost 4 straight games, 3 of which have come in embarassing fashion. Their most recent loss to Illinois has many fans giving up on the team and coaches. That is inexcusable for Rutgers fans, as the future is bright, and growing pains are expected. Rebuilds don’t happen overnight, and this is no exception. The Rutgers roster is incredibly thin and not currently at a B1G level. In fact, not many players on this team are at a B1G starting level. The team is currently without their best player, Janarion Grant, and there is not a good QB on the roster. Here are just a few problems the team has:
- Tylin Oden is the only QB that fits the scheme, but he is not ready to play. Not only is he way too skinny, but he simply cannot throw the ball right now.
- The offense lacks a true threat other than Robert Martin.
- The offensive line has been getting dominated.
- The linebackers are banged up and inexperienced. Starting SLB Greg Jones is out for the year. Najee Clayton left the team so true freshman Tyreek Maddox-Williams has had to pick up the slack.
Now, let me give you four reasons why these problems will be fixed in the immediate future:
These are four types of recruits that the old staff could not get to come to Rutgers. John Lewis is “The QB” for Rutgers, posessing all the tools to make him a success here. Bo Melton is a top-5 player in New Jersey, as is Micah Clark. Fogg is a 4-star recruit from a conference rival’s state. This is the Chris Ash difference. He actually has the ability to go out and get the players he knows he needs to be successful.
Him and Kyle Flood inherited two different situations and it is incredibly important to recognize that before you criticize Ash. Flood was gifted with NFL talent on both sides of the ball, including 3 very successful NFL defensive backs. Ash has inherited a roster with limited talent and no depth whatsoever. There are currently no wide receivers who can get open and the defense can’t stop the run. Pretty much all the wide receivers not named Jawuan Harris are gone after this year and 3⁄4 of the starting defensive line is gone.
It is one thing if you are Ohio State and replacing all your NFL talent with 4 and 5-star recruits at every position. However, Rutgers currently has no 4-star talent on the current roster waiting to fill in.
With Chris Ash recruiting, he will slowly but surely build a roster where there is natural talent to be coached up as opposed to an incredibly thin lineup reliant on 2-star recruits outshining their rankings.
The biggest issue, which is what I will focus on, and which Ash has addressed, is the quarterback position.
Johnathan Lewis is not a 4-star recruit, but he can start as a true freshman next year. It is pretty obvious Laviano is done as the starter after this year and they are grooming Tylin Oden to be a potential replacement. With that being said, I truly believe the only advantage Oden has on Lewis is the playbook knowledge. When I was a senior at St. Peter’s Prep, Lewis was a junior and a raw QB with a reckless cannon for an arm and was a tough runner but not too fast.
I saw him play this past weekend and he noticeably faster. At 6-3 210, he can still get the tough yards and is incredibly tough to bring down, but now he is fast enough to get around people and not have to go through them. He looks just as fast as Oden, and of course has the arm strength advantage. Although sometimes his bullets get away from him. he has done a better job keeping his throws down. If Drew Mehringer can keep Lewis from sailing throws, his potential is through the roof.
He plays in a very similar offense, and has said he knows he can do the things he sees the Rutgers QBs failing to do now. Confidence is certainly not an issue, which I love. Additionally, having new additions Bo Melton, Ahmir Mitchell, and Jerome Washington to work with, he should have better weapons to work with than any QB has had this year.
For now, things are not looking great, but the coaches are clearly doing everything they can to establish a successful future for this team. There is nothing they can do about the players on the roster and need to install their culture and philosophies regardless of the personnel. When the right players arrive, things will start getting exciting for Rutgers and we will no longer be the laughing stock of the B1G. All it takes is some patience and trust.