Monday Practice Report: Game 1 Starters for Rutgers Coach Chris Ash

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Game starters are set for Rutgers at Washington, and the Scarlet Knight coaching staff broke it all down Monday during media availability. Head coach Chris Ash addressed the media in person for the final time before kickoff.

The Headline – Rutgers coach Chris Ash named his remaining starters Monday at his final press conference before kickoff at Washington. After Ash left multiple starting jobs open at the conclusion of training camp, he closed the majority to start game week.

Right tackle, running back, tight end and outside linebacker are no longer undecided.

The biggest upset of training camp came at strongside linebacker, where walk-on Greg Jones beat out sophomore Najee Clayton. Ash said midway through camp that Clayton was the closest linebacker to game ready, but Jones came on strong as a converted running back.

“I see both of those guys playing in the game,” said defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. “I feel right now Jones has got a little bit of an edge from the standpoint of his overall performance. … He's a really savvy football player, very smart football player. He picks up on thighs quickly and that's allowed for his growth to come at the rate that it has. He just gets better all the time as he gets more and more comfortable at the position.”

Senior Justin Goodwin earned a nod at running back after injuries limited projected starter Robert Martin. At least three running backs can expect a role against Washington.

“It was really a competition between Justin and Josh Hicks because Rob missed some time but Rob will play Saturday and I think he'll be 100 percent. … Justin has been probably the most consistent in all of training camp.”

J.J. Denman returns as starting right tackle with Nick Arcidiacono ahead of Matt Flanagan at tight end and

Backup quarterback remains the lone significant battle undecided. Zach Allen and Giovanni Rescigno battle it out this week. Hayden Rettig is also in the backup conversation, said offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.

Worth Noting – Rutgers is about as healthy as possible coming out of training camp, and Ash did his best to jinx it.

“We had very few injuries during training camp,” Ash said. “A few bumps and bruises, ankle sprains, things like that. Probably as healthy of a football team as I've been around in a while with the kind of training camp we've put those guys through.”

Quote of the Day – “I'll be honest with you, there's not going to be any growing pains. Everything is going to go smooth. I won't make one error as a head coach. I don't expect the offense and defensive coordinators to call one bad play, so it's all going to go smooth. Write that down. Everything is going to be perfect.” – Ash on game-day operations (sarcasm meter).


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