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Rutgers progresses during spring season practices

Practice 4 of 15 is in the books for the Rutgers football team and head coach Chris Ash is happy with what he has seen so far. 

“(It was a) very spirited practice, a lot of energy, a lot of really good work,” Ash said. “... (I) like the direction of the football team, still got a long, long way to go, but the last two days with third down and redzone work, I’ve been pleased with what we’ve been able to install and the way we’ve worked. (sic)”

This Saturday, the Scarlet Knights will host a scrimmage at the Bubble as a part of Student Appreciation Day. There, the team hopes to gain some clarity on the cluttered quarterbacks' competition brewing.

Currently, Rutgers has six quarterbacks on its depth chart: fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno, sophomore Johnathan Lewis, freshmen Artur Sitkowski and Jalen Chatman and walk-ons junior Tom Flacco and senior Rob Nittolo — all of whom have received similar amounts of reps early on. 

“We’ll look at (the quarterback depth chart) after we scrimmage on Saturday,” Ash said. “For really our whole depth chart, on both sides of the ball, we wanted to go the first five days (before evaluating the depth chart).”

Other than the quarterback competition, Ash is also excited about some other competitions emerging at different positions.

And even though it’s still early, Ash thinks the team is progressing along faster than in years prior, especially on offense.

“We’ve made more explosive plays offensively here this spring than probably what we’ve had in the last two years,” he said.

Ash credits that explosiveness to a strong work ethic and camaraderie displayed early and hopes that carries over into the regular season.

But it doesn’t stop at offense.

“I would say defensively we’re a little further ahead,” Ash said. “We’ve got so many guys that have played back on defense. We’re running the same system.”

Another area that Ash likes is the linebacker unit, one he says has a lot of talent and depth — a stark comparison of what he had his first year here. 

And despite redshirt sophomore linebacker Tyreek Maddox-Williams being sidelined for the rest of the season with an injury, the Knights have enough flexibility and experience to move forward.

“We’ve got experience, we’ve got depth, we’ve got competition and, like I said before, it’s probably the deepest position on the football team,” Ash said.

An area that Ash thinks the team can improve upon, though, is the offensive line — a unit that struggled mightily last season.

“Our biggest concern is left tackle, right tackle, all five of them,” he said. “Because as a unit, that unit has to work together, they’ve got to improve as a unit … We gotta get better at left tackle, left guard, center, right guard and right tackle, that’s what we gotta do.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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