Ash Era Countdown: Burning Questions

Scarlet Report takes an in-depth look at five questions and concerns that face Rutgers heading into training camp as a part of the daily Ash Era countdown series.

5. Who Plays Quarterback? – As long as a starter goes unnamed by coach Chris Ash, quarterback is both a question and concern for the Scarlet Knights. Projected Answer – With so much modeled after Ohio State, why not do the same at quarterback? Chris Laviano holds down his lead and starters the opener but the Scarlet Knights use two or three quarterbacks in meaningful snaps this season.

4. What's the Deal with Darius Hamilton?-- Hamilton masterfully danced around injury concerns during last year's Big Ten Media Day. He'll do the same in Chicago at the end of the month. Hamilton's only on-field activity since the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl was a strange series of snaps at Penn State that resulted in medical red-shirt. Rutgers significantly limited Hamilton's involvement by design while the fifth-year senior packed on nearly 20 pounds since he last played. Projected Answer – Whether Hamilton is 100 percent or not, the Rutgers defensive line will be solid this season. Hamilton is a leader and a gamer. Extra weight and injury rehabilitation slow Hamilton but do not stop him from a strong finish in the Rutgers uniform.

3. How Will Recruits React? – There will be tough losses this season. Rutgers is not a quick fix, and patience is key for both the fanbase and impressive recruiting class. When times get tough, it's up to the Rutgers staff to keep in constant contact with a potential top-25 class. Instead of a focus on the 2016 product, recruits need to see the future vision that Ash sold Pat Hobbs upon his arrival. Projected Answer – Rutgers loses a few commitments but not necessarily because of on-field problems or failures. This is recruiting in 2017. A recruit that commits once, early, and stays committed without visiting other schools is an anomaly. Recruiting is about relationships first and that's how the class primarily stays together.

2. Is Leonte Carroo Even Close to Replaceable? – Anyone remember how hard it was to replace Ray Rice's production in 2008? It took Rutgers half the season to get its offense on track after his departure. Carroo defined the Rutgers offense as a junior and senior. He broke records and carried an otherwise sloppy attack on his way to 1,895 yards and 20 touchdowns since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten. Replacing Carroo may prove more challenging than Rice after multiple off years in recruiting wide receivers. Projected Answer – Janarion Grant saw the biggest increase in playing time this spring. As the Rutgers offense evolves, Grant is the most dynamic weapon available in the 2016 passing game.

1. Too Fast, Too Furious? – There's evolving into a contemporary offense and there's forcing players into roles that don't fit their skillset. Until Rutgers takes the field for real, the offense remains an enigma. After more than a decade of recruiting players for a pro-style offense, everything changed under Drew Mehringer and Ash. Designed quarterback runs, shotgun-heavy snaps and no huddle are all new philosophies in Piscataway. The question is if massive, decisive changes even the odds for Rutgers or do we see another failure to adjust like the sack machine that was 2010? Projected Answer – The Rutgers offense struggled with consistency in a quick switch to a no-huddle spread. Rutgers will catch programs off guard with its massive changes, but the talent discrepancy against upper-echelon Big Ten teams remains significant.


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