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War Games: Howard at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Scarlet Report brings you inside the Hale Center with the best commentary from this week's interviews.

Head coach Chris Ash – “Well, anytime you give up a punt return and a kickoff return for a touchdown, those things just don’t happen very often. And when you’ve got two of them in one game, it’s very disappointing. It’s gut wrenching. And the fact that we have spent an insane amount of time on special teams — I’m involved in coaching special teams. And you thought that we would go out and perform better than that, and we didn’t. And watching the tape, wasn’t any happier after watching the tape. So it’s an area we’ve got to continue to improve in. We’ve got to continue to get great effort. But we’ve got to do our responsibilities and execute what we’re trying to do better on Saturdays, too.”

Offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer – “We don't take any team lightly. I'm not trying to bring up old memories, but we've seen really good football teams lose to really good FCS teams in the past — the most famous one being in our conference. But no, so we treat it like every other — fill game plan. Some people ask if we look ahead — absolutely not. To avoid all kinds of disaster you can not only do that, you treat them as we're playing the Green Bay Packers this week."

Defensive coordinator Jay Niemann – “[Pass rush] is tough on first and second down when you get play-action passes with a lot of maximum protection to generate a four-man rush there. That's always a problem unless you've got a fifth guy coming into the rush in some type of a blitz. Particularly on third down I thought we did a really nice job getting [Washington's quarterback] off of his point. We were nine out of 12 on third-down stops, which is a number going into the game any of us would have said we'd have been happy with. All in all I thought they did a good job, even in the four-man rush scenario.”

Special teams coordinator Vince Okruch – “That guy (Janarion Grant)is special. The first one, quite frankly, we missed a block and as you look at it on film that being the first live kick of the season, it happened so fast. It's faster than we can recreate out here [in practice]. We flipped our hips and their guy was already passed us. We made the adjustment on the sideline, coaching him up on what to do. Then next one was for 32 yards and I believe the third one was for 32 yards. If our guy can return it 32 yards every time we receive a kickoff, outstanding.”

Senior wide receiver Janarion Grant – “I’m looking forward to [the first kickoff] a lot. Just like every other kickoff. First kickoff, I’m looking to just take it back to the house. Just being able to make my plays and fans happy.”

Junior quarterback Chris Laviano – “It’s a fast pace. This is a new offense. It was the first game. I’m not making any excuses, but that’s kind of behind us. We watched the film, assessed it and we’re going to learn from it. Like I said, we have a lot of football left to play this season and we’re just going to continue to improve.”

Senior captain Darius Hamilton, defensive tackle – “There's still a lot of football left to be played. I think I'm going to get back to my old self. I think I was pretty productive at the point of attack [against Washington]. Obviously, statistically, it wasn't where I'm used to being but I'll get back to it. … I feel good. Obviously the first time playing at 285, I was a little winded, but it was a lot of fun. I definitely feel a lot stronger when I put my hands on people. I feel it, I know they feel it.”

Senior captain Julian Pinnix-Odrick, defensive end – “I don't think anybody is really wavering. Guys are used to adversity, especially around here. You go to Rutgers, you're used to adversity. At the same time, we're not going to dwell on it. I think that we learned a lot from our first game. I'm actually really optimistic about the things that we're learning from that game and the mistakes that we made and the great things that we actually did do from that game.”

Junior wide receiver John Tsimis – “I thought we played really hard. The receivers, assignment wise, we didn't really have any mental errors. We were doing our job all game, we've just got to make more plays.”

Sophomore safety Kiy Hester – “Every game you’ve got to go in like that because I know I’m going to get a lot of plays, a lot of snaps. So I go in there and just play hard and just strain. That’s the main thing (the coaches) tell us — you got to go in there and any chance you get, you just strain, get to the ball. So that’s my main mindset now.”

True freshman wide receiver Dacoven Bailey – “I had a fumble -- that should never happen. We preach about ball security all day. That's my fault. I accept that. It was nerve-wracking at first like, 'I've got the ball! I've got the ball!' but once I caught the ball I was fine."

Junior running back Josh Hicks – “Janarion Grant, that's my brother. [The wildcat] is a real good thing. I look at him in the wildcat and it's real. It's a beautiful thing. It's a part of our game plan and we just have to go out and execute.”

Senior outside linebacker Greg Jones – “I was pretty young when [Sept. 11, 2011] happened and my mom, I can just remember my mom picking me up from school early and I wasn’t sure what was going on. And as the years go on, I started learning a little bit more about it, what happened. I wasn’t too sure at the time. But as the years went on, I learned a lot about it and it’s really important to this country and I really (am) blessed to be a part of this country and that’s a blessing to even have behind everybody when those things happen.”

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