After getting refreshed and rested on their bye week, Rutgers looks to get back on track in the second half of their season this Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana is coming off of a victory against Maryland this past weekend. Rutgers is also opening as nearly two touchdown underdogs against the 4-4 Hoosiers.
Coach Ash, Drew Mehringer, and Jay Niemann all had press conferences today which are posted below. I will break them down for you.
Coach Chris Ash
Coach opens up by saying he believes they worked out some of the issues they had in games prior to the bye week. The team has not gone full speed yet, especially the guys that missed the Minnesota game, but they are getting there via a light practice this morning. Robert Martin is still listed as day-to-day with his injury.
Coach Ash said the biggest thing his offense needs to work on is their turnovers. They committed eight turnovers the past two games and he understands and knows that is unacceptable. Hopefully with Giovanni Rescigno in along with a healthy and functional run game, they will get cut down over the last four games.
When asked about Rutgers’ slow starts Ash makes it clear that they are changing nothing come game day. Ash also made a point that their slow starts were weeks ago and they did not allow themselves to get into significant holes early against Illinois and Minnesota.
In the end, Ash said that it all comes down to practice. They practice everything but it all needs to get faster and cleaner and better in order for it to work the way it is supposed to.
Coach Ash said he is sticking to the plan to play Tylin Oden in every game Rutgers has left. Giovanni Rescigno is healthy and inexperienced, meaning he could use the reps himself. Whether it works out that way or not for Oden, Ash says he is unsure, but the plan is to play him and get him live reps.
Justin Goodwin has the faith of his head coach as Ash said there really is not much more Goodwin could do at this point. He has run well, caught well, and blocked well. Josh Hicks has also improved in his pass protection as well as his short-yardage runs. If Robert Martin cannot play, look for big numbers from Goodwin yet again.
Lastly, Coach Ash said that Indiana is a model program for Rutgers. Their coach has been there for now six years and he has built that program and produced some great players and been to bowl games. Ash said it takes patience and they expect to beat teams like Indiana and other Big Ten teams each year, but Indiana Saturday is a step in the right direction.
Offensive Coordinator Drew Mehringer
Drew Mehringer was asked about modelling their program after Indiana and Mehringer said they do but they do not. He likes how they ran the ball for over 400 yards this past weekend, but their play style is not what they necessarily want to be in the end.
With Giovanni Resicngo’s strong arm, Mehringer wants to take advantage of his arm strength. You love to throw the deep ball, but the hard part is coming down with them and Rutgers has not been coming down with them. Mehringer says Gio feels comfortable throwing it deep and he is progressing every day to make it better and better.
Mehringer was asked about Jawuan Harris and what he bring to the offense and Mehringer clearly loves the kid and praises his acceleration, using baseball knowledge to prove a point. Harris has done a nice job thus far and is getting the game more conceptually as the weeks go on and Mehringer could not be much happier with him, especially since he had to replace the notorious Janarion Grant.
Rutgers ran in large part a two-back system against Minnesota. If Robert Martin plays Mehringer plans to still use multiple backs. Mehringer says that Martin and Goodwin, personnel wise, are practically the same and Josh Hicks allows a nice change of pace for the other backs.
Interesting statement later in the conference where Mehringer says there is still a quarterback competition, much to his dismay. Gio is the starter but the coaches are constantly evaluating the quarterbacks on the roster.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Tylin Oden is developing well and he wants to see him play more. If Oden wants to play more, he still needs to improve, especially in the passing game. Progress is progress, though.
Defensive Coordinator Jay Niemann
Jay Niemann talks of the triple threat at quarterback in Indiana and says it adds a whole element to preparation. You have to see who the quarterback is and who the running back is, and each combination of the two. Good news is, the run game is basically the same, it all comes down to which back has the ball.
The linebackers needed the bye more so than most groups of players. Niemann said they came back ready to go and are excited to play Saturday.
Getting the linebackers and the whole defense healthy should help with the run defense, but ti does not solve everything. you need to practice and rep the problematic issues until it is right and then go out and perform it the way they need to.
Indiana’s run game will surely provide headaches for the Rutgers defense Saturday.