Last night after the spring game, Rutgers football coach Chris Ash addressed the media. He thanked fans for their support and spoke about how positive everyone has been since his arrival. Ash made a point to say he was pleased with the past three and a half months and that everyone in the program has "worked extremely hard". He said the players have bought into everything and that their attitude and effort has been great. However, he emphasized there is a long way to go and a lot of improvement is needed, stating the team is "nowhere near where we need to be."
He singled out Janarion Grant for his performance in the spring game, saying he is "a perfect fit for what we want to do on offense." Ash also mentioned the touchdown pass from Hayden Rettig to Carlton Agudosi. He harped on the fact the offense lost too many fumbles in the game and that they must clean that up. On offense, Ash mentioned the need for the offensive line to keep coming together, the continued quarterback battle, and improved execution for the entire unit.
Ash was pleased with the starters on defense in how they performed last night, highlighting that they ran to the ball well and tackled well. He feels the secondary is starting to come together and hinted that the starting linebackers last night of Deonte Robers, Trevor Morris, and Najee Clayton put themselves in position to start in the fall.
He also gave credit to both punter Michael Cintron and kicker David Bonagura. He was pleased with Cintron's performance and although Bonagura missed two field goals last night, Ash said he has improved significantly this spring.
As for his own experience, Ash admitted it was an adjustment being on the field as opposed to in the press box like he was accustomed to as a defensive coordinator. He also commented that he needs to learn how to keep his mind clear on the field during games, in an effort to think through the many decisions he will need to make during games. It was an extremely candid admission from the first time head coach.
As for what is next for the Rutgers football program, Ash said they will hold meetings this week with every player, their positional coach and himself. They will discuss where each player is currently at and where they need to improve on for the fall. The team will now focus on continued work in the weight room and on academics with finals less than a month away.
He was asked about the emphasis on players making good decisions with the summer and more free time approaching. Ash responded that there was "no freedom" and that the players are reminded daily of the importance in making good decisions. He made the comparison to being a parent, saying you never stop teaching your kids. As for recruiting, Ash said the staff will hit the trail on Wednesday.
Overall, it was a successful spring for head coach Chris Ash. The program has made significant strides in changing the culture, including the daily focus of the players, their training habits, and approach to wellness and health. There is certainly a lot of work to be done and the players will begin summer workouts in early June. We are just over three months from the start of fall training camp. To hear Chris Ash's entire press conference and view highlights and comments from the players after the spring game, click below.
.@RVisionRU: Chris Ash Spring Game Press Conference https://t.co/c9h6cMId4f— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) April 24, 2016
.@RVisionRU: @RFootball Players Talk Spring Game Highlights https://t.co/p44hzbJVyL— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) April 24, 2016