Rutgers Press Conference Central: Iowa Wins 14-7

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers head coach Chris Ash and his coordinators break down and react to the 14-7 loss against Iowa. Hear the latest on quarterbacks, Janarion Grant and timeout issues in a loss to the Hawkeyes.

RUTGERS COACH CHRIS ASH: Go ahead and start by giving my hats off to Iowa and Coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff and his team. They did a tremendous job to stay in that football game and win it. That was a very good football team that we played today. Hats off to our players for the effort they gave today and the preparation they put in all week to come and compete and a chance to win a game like that.

The players played extremely hard, just didn't make the plays when we need to. There were some there that we just didn't make in all three phases of the football game. Not happy about the winners. Nothing good about a loss. We are not looking for moral victories. We felt good about our preparation and our chance to win the game and we just didn't make the plays we needed to beat a good opponent like Iowa.

I want to thank the fans for showing up, created some energy, especially there in the fourth quarter when we needed it. Can't thank them enough for showing up and giving us their support and helping us stay in the football game and giving us a chance there at the end.

Q. In the goal line series and a couple of other times in the red zone do you feel like you left a lot of points on the board?
CHRIS ASH: I don't know if we left a lot of the points. They made some plays. I felt like there were plays there that we had that we didn't finish. At the end of the first half we had it down in the red zone deep and fourth down we go for it and run an option play and it was there, just didn't execute it the right way.

But those things happen in big games. They have something to do with it, too, best laid plans don't always work when the opponent has something to say about it and that was one of those scenarios.

Q. Do you think Chris Laviano should have pitched the ball there?
CHRIS ASH: The guy was doing a cat and mouse with him. He wasn't sure if the other guy was playing a quarterback or playing a pitch. At the end of the day, the guy fell in on the quarterback and made the tackle. But the guy was in no-man's land and wasn't sure what he was trying to play it.

Q. Any information on injuries?
CHRIS ASH: I don't at this moment.

Q. Are you concerned with the injuries?
CHRIS ASH: No comment until I get a chance to speak with the trainers and doctors to find out.

Q. Chris, what happened in the time-out situation that left you without a time-out with twelve minutes left in the game?
CHRIS ASH: Number of things. We had a young man run on the field in defense with a substitution deal. We had too many guys of the field so we had to call a time-out. Two things on offense. Formations were set wrong, and weren't going to run the right play with the formations set wrong. So we had to use our time outs.

Q. How crucial was that particularly on fourth down play? There seemed to be a little bit of confusion?
CHRIS ASH: Yeah, we weren't set right. But those are critical mistakes that can't happen in big games like this, but I would have liked to have timeouts in the end, but we needed to use them in those situations because we couldn't take penalties in those opportunities or have plays run out of the wrong formation, so we need to do use them. We have to get that stuff cleaned up. That can't happen.

Q. Are you encouraged by the defense's play?
CHRIS ASH: I'm encouraged by the whole football team's play. Encouraged by how we played defensively. That was a good football team. Still gave up too many yards rushing, disappointed about that. We defended the pass fairly well. Got after the quarterback. Got some hits and sacks on the quarterback, but I'm encouraged by the whole football team, not any one aspect. Do we have to clean things up? Absolutely. Do we have to make the plays that are out there? Absolutely. But, again, that's a good football team. We showed up today to play and that's very encouraging. We made a lot of plays and we just have to get a few plays cleaned up and hopefully when we do that we will come out on the other end victorious.

Q. Can you share your message after the game?
CHRIS ASH: I'm proud of what they've done. We played a very good football team in week one in Washington and we did not play very well. It's week four. We played another very good football team that was considered to be a potential Big Ten title time, and a potential, you know, dark horse for the playoffs, a team that won 12 games last year and you can -- I feel the improvement from week 1 to week 4 is there and we just got to keep that going.

Q. From your vantage point, what did you see on the Patton fumble? He's nowhere near the first down marker and he ends up losing the ball?
CHRIS ASH: I wasn't sure he had complete possession of it when the guy knocked it out, but he's got to hold on to the ball. I'm not going to tell a guy you can't fight for more yards. That's not what you do. They thought he caught the ball. The guy made a nice play, knocked the ball out, and he's got to hold on to the ball. It is what it is.

Q. What are your thoughts on the quarterback play?
CHRIS ASH: I thought Chris did a nice job today, you look at his stats -- one play I did not like was the sack he took early in the opening drive that put us in bad field position where we ended up having to punt. We had a really nice opening drive. Got on the field with a penalty and got a sack and took us out of potential field goal range too. That's something we have constantly been working on with Chris, and just like the whole football team, you look where Chris was at in week 1 and where he is at today. He's improved a lot in my opinion.

Q. Chris, the early decision not to attempt a field goal, what was your thinking?
CHRIS ASH: It's fourth and short. It's going to be a tight game when you play a team like this, and we wanted to go for it and we wanted to play aggressive and we knew we had to do that. We went for it on fourth down four times in that game. That's the style of play I want. I believe in our offensive line and our running game and our ability to get those fourth and short situations and don't second guess that one bit.

Q. If you don't turn it over there, obviously, I know it's if's and it's hypothetical, but without that sequence turning it back to them, did you feel like you were going to have a chance to win the game?
CHRIS ASH: I felt like all week we had a chance to win the game, whether it's Monday or at that point in the game. Unfortunately, we turned the ball over and, you know, the next play or two they went down the field and scored a touchdown. It's disappointing, but I felt like we had a chance to win the game all the way from opening kickoff all the way to the end until they got the first down and we had no timeouts to stop 'em.

Q. What most do you think will stick with you as you go through the evening, lost opportunity? The good stuff?
CHRIS ASH: I'm proud of our football team. I'm disappointed in the loss. We're going to identify what we can do better. We're going to work on it and move on to the next one. We've got a tough opponent next week and would I have got to identify what happened in certain situations in this game and we have to coach 'em, execute better and move on.

Q. Is Tylin ready to throw a pass in the game? Seems like he comes in and --
CHRIS ASH: He can run and pass, but right now we're doing what we feel he is most comfortable with.

Q. Any thoughts turning to Ohio State?
CHRIS ASH: No thoughts.


On Defensive Execution...

We did a better job playing our base defense. We were in a lot of man coverage today. I felt like we needed to tighten things up to handle their play-action passing game better. That proved to be a pretty good part of the plan. That helped us a lot.”

On Final Iowa First Down...

I didn't have real great view of it from where I was standing but from what I understand, we had a guy get displaced in his gap. To their credit, they must have thrown a block that had somebody out of position and got enough yards to move the chains and that was it. The game was over.”

On Rotating Defensive Linemen...

That was kind of the plan as long as we could keep the game close to try to throw as many fresh bodies in there as we could. Fortunately the margin was tight enough through the whole game that we were able to keep that rotation going. That's always a good thing for us when we can do that.”


Opening Statement: "Obviously, offensively, not the production from a standpoint that we were looking for. We did some things out in the open field that I thought were good. But the lack of execution in short yardage and redzone and an untimely turnover, not that any turnover is not untimely, but where and when it happened put our defense in a very tight spot there.

"We as coaches have to do a better job in those situations of getting our guys in the right frame of mind or finding out ways of getting those guys into position to execute and convert in those situations. We have to continue to throw the ball better. It was better today but not anywhere near where it needs to be.”

On the fourth-down play call at the end of the first half: “They were playing on the internal gaps, so we tried and get on the edge with Tylin, and bless his heart, he just doesn’t have enough ass behind him to punch it in. So we came back and called a triple option play. The pitch was there. Laviano said it was great, so we didn’t want to put the ball in jeopardy. He decided to punch it in himself and I thought the play was there from the box. But I can’t see from where the quarterback sees. I thought we had a chance to put that one in, but I thought we still did the right thing in going for it at that point. It felt like it could have went in for us, but it just didn’t happen.”

On how losing Janarion Grant changes the game plan: “Obviously you’re going to change it a little bit because of what a dynamic playmaker that kid has been for us. We slid Jawan Harris into that spot and he’s a capable, young kid. You have to tailor what you do a little more. That’s going to fall on the outside receivers and the quarterback to pick up the slack. There’s no guy who’s going to break three tackles and go 76 yards.”

On the fourth down play call at the end of the game: “We got in there and the running back was aligned on the wrong side. We were trying to get him on the right side and he just got confused on the play, so we had to burn a timeout. It’s us as coaches to eliminate those kinds of mistakes and get him ready to go play.”

On the sting of missed opportunities on offense...

"Sting is probably an understatement. Instead, closer to, like, vomit. Yeah, it definitely stings. You look at the red-zone chances, one in four. You're not going to win many football games. That's our job, offensively and for me, personally as not just as a football coach, but as a whole quarterbacks coach and as the offensive coordinator. Definitely makes me sick to my stomach. We all had a job responsibility and you want to do the best job that you can, but it's not, when you go one in four in the red zone, knowing that you converted one more of those, you're in a tie ballgame. Two of those, you win the game. Obviously, you're very sick to your stomach."

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