On Monday afternoon, head coach Chris Ash, as well as coordinators Jay Niemann and John McNulty met with the media to discuss the win over Texas State and the game ahead this weekend against Ohio State. Here is a recap of each one, as well as the full video of each press conference.
- He spoke about positives from Saturday’s win over Texas State. Specifically, that Rutgers rushed for 218 yards and held the Bobcats to only 69 yards. He also referenced the importance of third downs, as Rutgers converted 8 of 13 third downs, while Texas State was only 1 of 13. Ash also mentioned the positives on defense with 3 sacks, 3 takeaways, and a touchdown scored.
- In regard to what was bad, he mentioned the three interceptions, the penalty that took away a touchdown, the fumbled punt, and what he called “foolish penalties”.
- Ash announced the staff name the following players of the game: Raheem Blackshear for the offense, Elorm Lumor for the defense, and Larry Stevens for the special teams.
- Ash feels like he and the staff have a good idea of where the team is at and that they know what their strengths and weaknesses are after this past game.
- In regard to Ohio State, Ash stated the obvious in saying they are very talented and will be a major challenge. He did refer to this game as a “measuring stick”.
- Ash stated his policy on injuries is that he will discuss only long term one’s like Tijuan Mason suffered, but will not address day to day and week to week situations. The policy was explained after Ash was asked about Blessuan Austin’s status. He never gave an answer on Austin, although after the game it was stated he was kept out of the second half for precautionary reasons after landing awkwardly after an interception.
- Ash offered no comment on Urban Meyer and the coaching situation in his absence, despite being asked several questions about this issue.
- Ash doesn’t think there is any advantage for Greg Schiano or John McNulty coaching against one another based on their familiarity with each other because the personnel is completely different.
- When asked about his offensive philosophy, Ash’s main point was that you have to score points. He felt Saturday was good production wise and closer to what he wants on a consistent basis.
- Having a home game to start the season with so many younger players was a positive, but it will be a challenge on the road this week. He does think they have confidence and many of them will be fine in a tough environment.
- He thought there were a lot of positives on special teams, but the three penalties need to be avoided moving forward.
- Ash was happy with the pressure the defense generated and felt they had more multiple looks with different fronts than they’ve had since he has been here.
- He praised Greg and Anna Brown, who pledged a 4 million dollar donation last week for the new locker room being built after this season. Ash said improving facilities is a must in regard to the long term plan for improving the program. The timeline for completion is before the 2019 training camp.
- In regard to Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, Niemann said he is a very accurate passer and similar athletically to J.T. Barrett, the long time starter that he replaced. He stated Haskins didn’t run much in the opener but is capable to do so. He added that it looks like he has total command of their system.
- Niemann stressed the importance of not missing tackles against Ohio State.
- He wasn’t happy with some space tackles missed against Texas State based on the amount of time they spent on it in training camp. He did say there were also lots of good examples of things that showed up on film that were taught in camp too.
- Niemann thought the inside linebackers did well and specifically referenced Rashawn Battle & Tyshon Fogg, saying he wanted to get them quality reps early. He stated all four were productive and he looks forward to the ongoing competition.
- In replacing the injured Tijuan Mason, Niemann indicated they will have to make adjustments, but won’t know what until they practice this week.
- When asked if the Ohio State offense is even more explosive this season, he thinks at a minimum there is no drop off after scoring 77 points in the opener.
- Niemann was really happy with Mike Tverdov’s start. He called him a “blue collar, hard charging guy” and “loves the way he plays”. He stated his excitement about his future progression in the program.
- His son Ben made the Kansas City Chiefs final 53 man roster on Saturday and he found out after the game. Niemann called it a great moment for his son and the family. Ben played college football at Iowa.
- Niemann said Olakunle Fatukasi had a tough start at with injuries in his Rutgers career but has really come along recently. He explained his role is fluid based on need of the defense, calling him productive and likes where he is at right now.
- He doesn’t think it’s a “total recall” from 10 years ago in facing Greg Schiano when Rutgers plays Ohio State this Saturday. He mentioned schematical challenges when facing a Schiano defense. McNulty said Schiano will see some similarities from Saturday in regard to his offense compared to the past and it will probably help him a little bit, but it’s different. He thinks Schiano is one of the best coaches in the country and emphasized the quality of the coaching overall for the Buckeyes on top of their talent.
- On Sitkowski, McNulty said he ran the offense well. He said he had no trouble with calls and the “general operation of the game”. He said a lot was put on him, that he faced a lot of blitzes. They prepared for different systems based on the uncertainty with a new defensive coordinator with Texas State and thought he did a good job. He threw more accurately at times than he felt he even did at camp. McNulty said he showed toughness with taking hits. The interceptions, he said that two Sitkowski was hit on and it affected the throws. The third McNulty said was a bad play call by him. Overall, he was happy with the way he played.
- McNulty praised the Bosa family, after coaching with the Chargers the past two seasons and seeing older brother Joey play there. Nick is very good too and said his relentlessness separates him above his talent and physical abilities.
- Ohio State gave up a lot of big plays to Oregon State, but McNulty chalked it up to the first game of the season. Said some of them came with a large lead and that he thinks Jordan Fuller makes a big difference, as he didn’t play in the game. He missed it due to injury but Schiano said they hope to have him back for this Saturday’s game.
- When asked about the wide receiver group, McNulty said there were no drops and they did the right things. He said the coaches didn’t want to do a lot in the second half with a big lead in regard to the passing game. He wanted to get them more chances but it didn’t make sense with the situation with a big lead.
- McNulty confirmed that the toss to Raheem Blackshear for the first touchdown of the game was an old play for Ray Rice. Said Tariq Cole made a great block.
- Handling the atmosphere at Ohio State is the biggest challenge with this game. He said communication is key and that the coaches need to be smart to help get out to a fast start.
- Third down conversions were the key to the Texas State game and to long drives occurring in McNulty’s opinion.
- When asked about Blackshear getting 22 touches in the game, McNulty said he is their best player on offense. He said he is always ready to go. On Isaih Pacheco, he called him a “tough runner”. McNulty said he has some stuff to work out but loves football and the staff trusts him. Called him a workhorse that they will rely on more and more as the season goes. In regard to Jon Hilliman, he said his experience really showed and helped. McNulty said they have hree guys who showed in a game that they can be counted on.
- Eight receivers made catches. He said it was a little bit by design to use so many guys and keep them fresh due to the Big Ten schedule. They need all of them to stay healthy and will continue to play them.