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Exotic isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Albuquerque, New Mexico — the largest city in the Cactus State known better for the desert scenes in Breaking Bad and hosting the world’s most popular hot air balloon festival than as a vacation destination.
All eyes and most questions surrounding the Rutgers football team’s offense, as with most football programs, surround the situation behind center.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. But one thing it doesn’t consider is the start can be so bad, the finish can’t save it.The Rutgers football team started both of its games this season on the wrong foot, trailing at the end of the first quarter both times by a combined score of 38-7.What is the cause of these slow starts?“That’s a good question,” said defensive coordinator Jay Niemann.
Transfer Ahmir Mitchell has begun practicing with Rutgers this week.
Giovanni Rescigno’s 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the Rutgers football team’s home opener against Howard was far from being the most important moment of the game.Though impressive — the sophomore quarterback stumbled, then shed five tackles before reaching the endzone — it just piled onto the already insurmountable lead the Scarlet Knights (1-1) had on their visitors, pushing it to 49-12 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game.But what the second snap of his collegiate career lacked in significance in the game, it made up for in its symbolism for Rescigno’s rapid rise up the quarterback ranks at Rutgers.The Warren, Michigan, native is now the back-up behind junior quarterback Chris Laviano, and that in itself is a big improvement over being an outsider for the position during the battle in both spring and fall camps."Gio is not far behind, I don't think,'' said offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.
Chris Ash opened his weekly press conference before the Rutgers football team’s home opener last Monday by addressing his policy in addressing injuries — if it’s not long-term, it won’t be reported.The first-year head coach also rid of the injury report that came along with the weekly depth chart, another change he’s made in his short time on the Banks.So when he brought up injury in his opening statement a week later in the press conference previewing the Scarlet Knights (1-1) game against New Mexico this Saturday (noon, ESPNEWS), it shows the severity of it.Ash announced sophomore free safety Saquan Hampton, who did not play in the Knights 52-14 win over Howard in its home opener last Saturday, will be out for the “next few weeks.”“Injury update, again, not talking a lot about injuries, but one that will be out for a while is Saquan Hampton,” he said.
While Chris Laviano played better than his two-turnover, seven
yards-per-completion performance in the season opener, offensive
coordinator Drew Mehringer wasn't incredibly enthusiastic when asked
about the Rutgers starting quarterback's game against Howard."Chris Laviano played ... okay," he said, the pause in his answer noticeable.
PISCATAWAY — With seemingly everything going wrong for the Rutgers football team in the opening minutes of its home opener on Saturday against Howard, the Scarlet Knights were in desperate need of a big play to swing momentum in their favor.A 15-yard touchdown run from Howard quarterback Kalen Johnson pushed the Bison's lead to 14-0 and effectively sucked the life out of the 45,245 fans in attendance at High Point Solutions Stadium after just five minutes and 34 seconds of football.But on the ensuing kickoff, Rutgers' most dynamic player began to take matters into his own hands.Janarion Grant returned the kick 86 yards to the house — breaking multiple tackles and eluding a couple defenders on his way there — to get Rutgers on the board and cut the deficit in half.The senior's 6th career kickoff return touchdown gave the Knights momentum that they wouldn't relinquish for the remainder of the afternoon, as they reeled off 52 straight points to close out their first win of 2016."(Janarion's touchdown return) was huge.
The most memorable plays during the Rutgers football team’s first two seasons in the Big Ten came from a unit its excelled in for the better part of a decade.Junior defensive end Kemoko Turay had seven and a half sacks in his first season on the Banks but his name wasn’t well known among the Scarlet Knights’ fanbase until after his iconic block of a Michigan field goal attempt gave the program its first Big Ten win.Senior wide receiver Janarion Grant has been slated as a focal point of the power spread offense first-year head coach Chris Ash and his staff are implementing but he is recognized for his explosive returns on kick-off and punt returns, of which he had a combined four touchdowns and 1,151 yards in 52 attempts last season.But the usual luck of the third time around betrayed the Knights in their season opener against Washington, as the unit got a taste of its own medicine in Seattle.The Huskies returned both a kick-off and a punt for a touchdown — the first time since 2001 they’ve done both in the same game — in their 48-13 shellacking of their visitors last Saturday."Those things just don't happen very often," Ash said in the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday.
When Chris Ash took the reigns of the football program at Rutgers, Chris Laviano was tasked with winning the starting quarterback job — again. Laviano was back to square one this season with a new head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive system, after winning job leading up to last season and starting every game for the Scarlet Knights in 2015. The Holy Trinty product battled mainly with junior Hayden Rettig during spring camp and came out of the summer in competition with graduate-transfer Zach Allen during training camp.
For the past two football seasons on the Banks, Leonte Carroo was the Scarlet Knights' go-to weapon on offense. In 2014 the crisp route-running receiver accounted for over 36 percent of the team's receiving yards, with 1,086 and over half of the Knights' touchdown catches with 10.
The transition from a pro-style offense to a more modern power spread isn’t seamless and doesn’t happen overnight, or even over an eight-month long offseason.The Rutgers football team learned that lesson the hard way right off the bat in its season opener. Facing a top 25 team in No. 14 Washington that returned a majority of the top defense in the Pac-12 last season, the Scarlet Knights (0-1) were manhandled by the massive — both in size and experience — tackles on the Huskies defensive line, resulting in the 48-13 shellacking they suffered in Seattle.Junior quarterback Chris Laviano had two fumbles lost — though one didn’t count thanks to a defensive penalty — one interception and was sacked three times, resulting in a total of 38 yards lost.
Standing in the tunnel at Husky Stadium, the Rutgers football team prepared to rush onto the field as a group moments before the 2016 season kicked off.Head coach Chris Ash was in front of the pack ready to lead his Scarlet Knights onto the battleground for the first time, but he wasn’t the only one.Five true freshman saw action in the Knights season opener against No. 14 Washington last Saturday, experiencing the moment they and their teammates have been waiting for throughout the eight months of the offseason for the first time.“It was a big adrenaline rush,” said true freshman running back Trey Sneed of making his collegiate debut.
Chris Ash is no stranger to the environment at High Point Solutions Stadium on a Saturday in the fall.The traveled veteran has made the trip to Piscataway on two occasions during his 20-year career as an assistant, first with Arkansas in 2013 and then last season with Ohio State.He’ll take part in his third game in Piscataway this Saturday, but this time, he’ll be on the sideline with a block R on his chest and the crowd’s support behind him.The Scarlet Knights (0-1) host Howard (0-1) this Saturday at noon on the Big Ten Network as Ash makes his home debut.“I've said this many times, as a visiting coach, the experience that I had here at High Point Solutions Stadium has been a great one,” he said.
The scenes Saturday at Husky Stadium served as deja-vu to those on the Rutgers football team. The Scarlet Knights (0-1) found themselves on the wrong end of yet another blowout, facing a top 25 opponent in No. 14 Washington for their season opener.
Tim Wright was a busy man during his time at Rutgers.Recruited out of Wall High School to play football 45 minutes up the road for New Jersey's state university, Wright hauled in 50 catches for 596 yards and 4 touchdowns during his final two seasons on the Banks.And when the former standout wide receiver wasn't cutting in and out of his routes for the Rutgers football team, he was cutting hair — a lot of it.Wright, who picked up the passion for cutting hair as a teenager, used to have a line of people out of his dorm room waiting for him to cut their hair and would sometimes even go on house calls.
SEATTLE, Wash. — Janarion Grant was always going to be a big part of what head coach Chris Ash and his staff were going to do on offense with the Rutgers football team.Whether it be receiving short passes on bubble screens or taking handoffs on jet sweeps, the senior wide receiver is projected to be the focal point of the Scarlet Knights’ power spread offense in Ash’s first year in charge.That being said, there were many raised eyebrows Saturday among the 58, 640 people in attendance at Husky Stadium, as well as the many watching back home in Piscataway, when Grant took a direct snap from fifth-year senior center Derrick Nelson and ran seven yards to gain a first down on the Knights first drive of the third quarter.Grant took five direct snaps in a wildcat-esque formation against No. 14 Washington on Saturday, the last of which was a 10-yarder finishing in the endzone, the only touchdown of the game in Rutgers’ 48-13 loss to the Huskies in both team's season opener.On a day where the Knights struggled to gather any momentum or rhythm with the ball in their possession through the air and on the ground, the expected culprit finally broke through.“Janarion in the wildcat, we were looking for a way to get an extra number in the box versus that defense, and I think that’s something we could consistently carry with him,” said offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.
SEATTLE —— Chris Ash came to Piscataway with a vision of changing the Rutgers football team in just about every way he could.The first-year head coach modified the ambiance of the Hale Center, expanded the resources his team had available and even rearranged the seating arrangements on the team plane during away trips.Unfortunately for him, he also changed a tradition he surely liked to have kept intact.Ash became just the second head coach to lose on his debut with the Scarlet Knights since 1924, suffering a heavy 48-13 loss to No. 14 Washington.“Obviously that wasn’t the outcome that we wanted,” Ash said.
The wait is finally over.After eight months of a grueling offseason of growth and anticipation, the day everyone has been anxiously awaiting is finally here.It’s the first gameday of the Chris Ash era for the Rutgers football team.The Scarlet Knights take the field at Husky Stadium in Seattle Saturday hoping to upset a Top 25 opponent in No. 14 Washington.A tall task at quick glance — the win would easily crack anyone’s list of top five wins in program history — a closer inspection reveals that while all signs point towards a blowout win for the Huskies, there is potential for the Knights.They enter the 2016 season coming off a 4-8 season with a multitude of off-field issues that included both a head coach and an athletic director that were fired at the end of the campaign.But with the loss came Ash, a young, energetic defensive coordinator from Ohio State eager to fulfill his goal of becoming a head coach.He brought along a vision of bringing a modern no-huddle, spread offense to a team that’s been playing in the pro-style for most of the past couple of decades and a coaching staff that’s worked diligently to implement it.Completely rehauling the way a program operates is never easy and has raised questions of how well Rutgers will adapt, especially so right out of the gate against Washington.