Goodale gives talk prior to practice as depth chart begins to shape up for Rutgers
Before leading the Rutgers wrestling team to the best season in program history last winter, Scott Goodale was standing on the sidelines of High Point Solutions Stadium calling plays as the offensive coordinator at Jackson Memorial High School in the New Jersey State Championship game.
After winning three state football titles with the Jaguars, Goodale hung up his headset and became the head coach of the wrestling team at the South Jersey school, and the rest is history.
More than a decade later, Goodale was back on the gridiron in Piscataway as he addressed the Rutgers football team in the Bubble Thursday morning prior to its seventh practice of the spring.
This time, the talk had nothing to do with X’s and O’s.
"Just about preparation. Not so much the games, the games are going to take care of themselves. It’s how you prepare day in and day out that’s important,” Goodale said of his message to the team. “It starts today ... it’s about being focused and being into the moment, into this practice and that was my message to them.”
When Goodale was hired as the seventh head coach in Rutgers wrestling history, he was an ambitious high school coach looking to turn a struggling program into a national powerhouse.
Nine years and a Big Ten champion in 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault later, he looks at the task head football coach Chris Ash has in front of him and sees a lot of similarities with what he went through.
Goodale felt the eagerness in the players as he spoke to them in a huddle before the Scarlet Knights got to work. While it’s easy to bring forth a strong effort during collective team workouts in the spring, Goodale believes the most important days are those when there aren’t coaches pushing them.
“(Ash is) trying to do what I was trying to do, and what I’m still trying to do, which is build a culture and build an atmosphere where winning is really important and you could see that’s where he’s at,” he said. “Those guys are tuned in and focused, you could tell it’s started, but again ... it’s gotta carry over day in and day out (to the) dog days of June and July when nobody’s watching, you gotta have that same type of intensity.”
The Knights returned to their preparations following the talk from Goodale.
Practicing with only a helmet and shoulder pads, they showed the coaching staff some encouraging signs.
“A thing I was excited about today is (I) finally felt some personality out of the football team,” Ash said in a press conference following practice. “When the defense would make some plays, I felt the defense got enthused, got excited ... Offensively, kind of the same thing ... It was good to see it go back and forth and see some personality out of the football team.”
The depth chart is beginning to come together as Rutgers reached the midway point of the spring, with some positions painting a clearer picture of how things will look in the fall than the others.
The units planted at the line of scrimmage were the two called out by name by the first-year head coach as the clearest of the bunch.
“There’s certain positions, the D-Line being one, that if the four guys at the ones stay healthy, they’re starting to separate themselves from the (second unit) and that’s pretty clear cut,” Ash said. “A little bit on the offensive line, although there are some injuries on the offensive line … when you talk about the starting five, that pictures starting to get clear.”
The position battle that everyone has their eyes on is beginning to see some separation as well. Junior quarterback Chris Laviano has been receiving more reps than classmate Hayden Rettig and sophomore Giovanni Rescigno, the two others competing for the starting job, according to Ash.
The Glen Head, New York, native earned the extra reps due to his decision making and understanding of how to operate in the offense.
“When you’re going with tempo, you’re talking about two things. You’re talking about emergency and urgency. (Laviano), right now, is operating with a lot of urgency back there in the no-huddle offense and not necessarily with a lot of emergency,” Ash said. “It’s slowing down for him a little bit probably more so than the other ones. Not saying, again, that there’s a big separation, but he’s probably a step ahead of the other guys.”
With a little over two weeks remaining until the spring game on April 23, things are beginning to shape up for the Knights.
Along with the depth chart beginning to piece together, Rutgers is making solid progress in installing the playbook. But that doesn’t mean all the kinks have been ironed out just yet.
“Really impressed by the way they’ve picked things up,” Ash said of his players. “We’re getting closer to the installation being done from what we wanted to have done on offense and defense. We’ve got some more things we wanted to do on special teams, but right now, after day seven, we’re a little ahead of schedule, which is great. We just have to clean up a lot of stuff in the second half because some things aren’t pretty.”