Rutgers Press Conference Central, Chris Ash, Coordinators

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers head coach Chris Ash and coordinators Drew Mehringer and Jay Niemann speak in detail after the 52-14 victory over Howard.

Rutgers Coach Chris Ash Transcript

Q. What was your assessment of Laviano's play?
COACH ASH: Well, started off a little poor with the turnover there in the first drive. It's not what we want. Again ball security is something he needs to continue to improve on.
Again, I'll give the kid credit. He battled back and held it together, held the offense together to come back and play the way they did in the second half but ball security continues to be something we've got to improve on this offense.
Q. Was it the plan all along to use other quarterbacks and how would you assess?
COACH ASH: The plan was to play our offense, our starters, like we did and rotate certain guys like we normally would. You know, when you play a game like this and score that many points and get up that many points, obviously you're going to put other guys in the game. That's no different this game or any other game that we get into this situation, if we're lucky to. So we are going to put guys in as the game allows us to do.
Q. What do you like about the two quarterbacks?
COACH ASH: Well, Gio came in for a series and scored a touchdown, so liked him pretty good. He did a nice job. Pretty good ratio, one drive, one touchdown.
Tylin did some good things running the ball, also. We didn't ask them to do a whole lot but what we asked them to do we did and I was happy for those two individuals to get out there and have some success.
Q. Can you describe maybe for you what the emotional journey is like a little bit, you're down 14-0, you have to be a little bit taken aback on your sideline and then carrying it through to the end where you do get your first win as a college head coach, just what that was like for you this afternoon?
COACH ASH: Yeah, I mean, any time you win a college football game, you've got to be relieved, because they are hard to do.
I don't care who you play, who you are; winning games is hard. I've learned in my career that you've got to celebrate the victories. Do I want us to play better? Absolutely.
Again, I talked after the first game, we didn't play to our full potential. I didn't think we did this game, either. But we got a lot closer in the second half. The second half was more the type of football team and the style of football I want us to be able to play and that's what we envision.
Yeah, it was emotional to say the least to start the game the way we started down 14-0 really fast. You do what you want the players to do; you can't panic. You can't flip out. You've got to stay with the plan, stay with the course and keep coaching, keep adjusting and that's what we did and that's what our players did and the end result is what we wanted.
Q. What did you think when you saw Laviano make that block on that wildcat run?
COACH ASH: Chris is a tough kid. He's going to throw his body in there to help his teammates. Never questioned that about him at all. Was really happy that he did that. That shows he's unselfish. He wants to do well and he wants his teammates to do well and he knows he has a role to help spring big runs like that. That's not a surprise to me that he did it.
Q. You never said you were going to red-shirt Tylin, but to play him now and take the red shirt off him this early in the season in a blowout came, can we expect to see more of him now?
COACH ASH: We hope so. He's still got a long way to go but we needed to get him in there to see what he could do. We've seen him in practice do certain things and obviously we ran him while he was in there. We wanted to see how he could run.
Yeah, I never said we would red-shirt him. Never told you we would play him, either. Just happened that the score got that way. And we had conversations throughout training camp, what are we going to do with Tylin and as he's continued to improve and progress, he's a guy that fits our offense and when we get the opportunity to get him in there, we're going to get him in there.
Q. Towards the second half, they were so gassed, obviously, Howard was. Do you think is that an upside of the spread offense when it's doing what it's supposed to do, and does it have more chances to do that when you mix it up like that?
COACH ASH: Well, yeah, I hope so. I mean, depth is an issue in college football. It really is. There are very few coaches that have the depth that they want. We don't have the depth that we want. Obviously Howard probably doesn't have the depth that they want.
For us, we talk about our conditioning, we talk about our physicality at the line of scrimmage and our ability to run the football, the tempo that we use; if you put all those things together, hopefully you're going to wear teams down as the game go on. We did that today and that's what we want to be able to do as we move forward. We have to do it better; we have to do it earlier. But that's what we're hopefully designed to do and working towards being able to do consistently.
Q. How hot was it out there and how did you manage to keep that wind breaker on for the entire game?
COACH ASH: I don't know how hot it was. You know, if you saw my gut, you'd know I've got a windbreaker on (laughter). Trying to sweat it out a little bit.
Q. Obviously you scored 52 points, but can you quantify how big the Janarion Grant kickoff return was at that point?
COACH ASH: It was huge. We were down and we were struggling, and you know, special teams is a big part of what we do. We obviously talked about negative special teams plays after last week, and we made some positive ones today that changed the momentum in the football game and created a little energy in the stadium and sideline.
Janarion is an outstanding player and he does a lot of things for us. And the fact that it's not just him, but the guys on that kickoff return team, the way that they blocked and executed their assignments on that particular play to allow them to break it says a lot about those guys. So really happy for him and that whole unit.
Q. Particularly on defense, because that's where your past is and what you've worked with so much; the two quick touchdowns, is it hard for you not just to be ticked off, not to be angry with them and try to get them playing better? What's that like for you?
COACH ASH: It's hard not to be ticked off but I was ticked off, you know. It's hard not to be. I failed that one. But we kept coaching and coaching and coaching, and you know, got a few things adjusted as we went through the game and played much better.
But yeah, not happy with the way we started that football game. And again, just leveraging the ball, tackling, and third down, those were our issues early in the game.


Mehringer on Tylin Oden...

"I think it was for the young kid, it was just, today, to see if we could get his feet wet a little bit and how he would respond in a bigger atmosphere. Obviously, this is not a little town south of Nashville, Tennessee, anymore. Honestly, I thought the other guys in the unit did such a great job, I think, getting him ready to go. I talked to each one of them individually and said, 'Make sure the young kid's ready to go in and play, protect the football and make sure he's excited and have some fun and not nervous,' and he went in there and did a nice job. But yeah, we just wanted to see if how he would respond to a bigger environment and I though he did pretty well."

Mehringer on the progression of Janarion Grant

"The athlete that Janarion is — I think he's got a little bit of inexperience in terms of just being a polished route runner. I don't think he's quite there yet. I think he's got still some work to do there to be a truly, a full wide receiver of the full gambit of talents, wide receiver wise. But he's adjusting very well. We had an interesting conversation back in January — I told him, 'If you just trust the plan, guys like you might have a chance to thrive in what we do.' And so far, he's done that. He's still got some work to do, for sure. He's by no means a polished football player. But he's done a very, very nice job of doing what we've asked him to do."


"Well, obviously, we didn't change our calls. We called the same stuff in the second half that we did in the first half. We just played better. I thought our tackling was atrocious — particularly compared to last week (at Washington), what I thought was pretty crisp. We did get better in that area as the game went along. I don't think we came out ready to tackle (in the first half)."

Niemann on Damon Hayes for Ross Douglas...

"Well, we like to play Damon, get his feet wet. Because of (the injury to Douglas), though, he had to do more than we were thinking. But you never know how games are going to unfold once you find out how you got to use you personnel. Both those things are true.

"I thought he did a good job. Again, a guy in that situation that hadn't really played in meaningful snaps ... special teams is a little bit different, different animal. So I think he held his own pretty well. We'll look at the film."

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