Wednesday Practice Report: Defensive Playcalling Under Chris Ash and Jay Niemann

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Who calls the plays and how does Chris Ash's elite background as a defensive coordinator impact his game-day role? A look at the Rutgers defense and the latest on the quarterback battle.

The Headline – Rutgers head coach Chris Ash plans to be most involved with the defense, but the plan remains for coordinator Jay Niemann to be a play-caller.

After Ash called plays for Ohio State the last two years, he wants to be as helpful as possible for the Rutgers defense in addition to head-coaching duties on game days.

“I'm going to be involved in defense and special teams,” Ash said. “That's where I can bring the biggest value to the football team. I've been coaching defense my whole life and I know how I want it to look, and that's why I hired the defensive staff that I hired. I think we work well together.”

Niemann spoke after practice for the firs time since spring camp. One of Ash's former coaches, the two have a close relationship.

“Certainly we've known each other a long, long time, but beyond that I think there's a philosophical compatibility there that makes coach Ash comfortable,” Niemann said. “How comfortable I am is irrelevant. It's him that has to be comfortable.

On linebacker day for the media, Niemann stressed that nobody won a starting job yet.

“There are guys that are running with the first unit, so to speak, and some with the second and third and so on but truly, we're under evaluation right now everywhere,” he said. “I think it will continue to be that way through at least a couple of scrimmages.”

Worth Noting – No major changes in the ongoing quarterback position in Ash's eyes after three practices. All four quarterbacks graded similarly and received similar reps in practice.

“When you look at the breakdown of plays that all four of the top four quarterbacks have had, it's almost identical through the three days of practice. When you look at their grades, they're very close. There might be a play here or a play there that has separated guys but it's all pretty close, pretty competitive. Nothing has changed since day one.”

Quote of the Day – “His spring was OK. It wasn't great. He learned the position a little bit. He's had a great summer. He's changed his body. He's put on a lot of weight. He was really light in the spring, didn't know how to play linebacker much, didn't know the defense very well. He got better as the spring went on. He's had a solid start to training camp. He's got a long way to go.” – Chris Ash on Trevor Morris at linebacker.


Scarlet Report Top Stories