Piscataway, New Jersey - Sunday marked the annual media day for Rutgers Football and head coach Chris Ash started things off at the podium for an opening press conference. Here are some key points he made during his 20+ minute address to the media.
- Ash started with addressing the quarterback situation, stating it’s still a three-man race (Gio Rescigno, Artur Sitkowski, Johnathan Lewis) and that the competition is ongoing. He did say the hope is by next Saturday’s scrimmage, the staff could potentially make a decision. Ash said later in the presser they do take into account who the players rally around and who they believe in to lead the offense, aside from how they look on tape on a consistent basis. He also said this week will be about fine tuning things and improving with reps, as the majority of the install with the playbook took place this past week.
- He also addressed the ongoing credit card fraud investigation, saying there are no updates and nothing has changed right now.
- Through eight practices, Ash feels the overall depth of the team is better than it’s been since his arrival. There are certain positions he feels depth is still an issue, but he is particularly pleased with the improvement in talent on the offensive side of the ball at the skill positions.
- Ash also said the understanding of players of what the coaches are asking of them is improved. This makes sense entering his third season as head coach of the program. He added that practices are more efficient and helps them accomplish more each day.
- Fundamentals are a concern but is typical at this point in camp, as players are starting to get worn down.
- He praised the development of the specialists, both placekicker Justin Davidovicz and punter Adam Korsak. I’ll have more on both of them later this week, as I spoke with assistant coach Toby Neinas about how each of them have progressed during the offseason.
- Ash was optimistic about the young talent on the defensive line, but harped on needing to develop depth overall.
- Ash said a few guys have bumps and bruises from the first scrimmage on Saturday, but nothing serious. Some guys may miss a little practice time, but nothing that is overly concerning. Later on in the presser he did speak about wanting to protect the more established, front line players by limiting their time in future scrimmages. He added it gives the extra benefit of giving younger players greater opportunity to showcase themselves in a scrimmage situation as well.
- Tariq Cole’s health was questioned based on videos the program posted on twitter where he didn’t appear, but Ash confirmed he is healthy, which tied into his point above about limiting certain key players in a scrimmage setting.
- Regarding the offensive line, Ash confirmed they would like Mike Maetti to start at center, saying he struggled in the spring but has had a great camp so far. He said with Jonah Jackson at right guard next to Maetti, it is their “best lineup”, which includes Cole at left tackle, Mike Lonsdorf at left guard, with Kamaal Seymour over at right tackle.
- Isaih Pacheco has played well and will definitely contribute on special teams, as well as have an opportunity at running back at some point.
- Ash refrained comment on the investigation at Maryland with head coach D.J. Durkin, but did emphasize his focus on his program and the well being of his players.
- When asked about improving takeaways on defense, Ash harped on being able to stop the run before all else.
- Ash spoke about how the addition of Noah Joseph has given him confidence having someone he trusts and knows what he wants on defense. I also spoke with Joseph at length and have more coming on their relationship and his impact on the defense since his arrival this past spring.
- With Fan Appreciation Day this coming Saturday, Ash was non-committal in terms of what the scrimmage would look like. He said there was a lot of work to be done this week before deciding with the coaching staff about the best way to proceed and evaluate the players in that setting.
I spoke with several players and coaches at media day, so stay tuned for plenty more coverage throughout the coming days. Here is video of Ash’s full press conference.