Rutgers Defensive Coordinator Jay Niemann
On the play of his defense: “It was a better outing than we’ve had in the past two weeks, but there are still too many things that are breaking down, particularly in the pass rush defense. I haven’t looked at the statistics yet so I can’t put numbers on it, but too many runs are breaking. You expect some of those once in a while; 10, 12, 20 yards, but 40 and 50 is too many. We have to get that fixed and get things looking cleaner and better.”
On big run to start the third quarter: “They came out in a balanced set. It wasn’t something we hadn’t worked on. I made a big point at halftime to the whole defense that we needed to get off to a fast start and get a three and out and give the ball to the offense. For whatever reason, it went just the opposite of that. That was a pivotal part of the game. You hear a lot of coaches say that the most important minutes are the last couple of minutes in the first half and the first couple of minutes in the second half. We didn’t do our job there.”
On the bubble screen that went for a touchdown: “There were two missed tackles from what I could see. I didn’t have a great view of it from where I was standing, but we had a miss on the first attempt and we didn’t have a good reaction by our alley player out there in terms of getting a right reaction to the play. So the inside-out pursuit from that perspective didn’t do what it was supposed to out there. It was those two things that let that play happen.”
Challenges of getting the defense on the field so quickly: “That’s the way it goes. Sometimes you get three or four minutes, sometimes you get 45 seconds. It’s just what you’ve got to do. You just have to be as clean and quick on the adjustments as you can and you just go with it.”
Rutgers Offensive Coordinator Drew Mehringer
Opening statement: “You look at some of the things on this stat sheet here. Two-hundred and three yards rushing, 17-of-30 passing. And then you look at some of these other things. Four turnovers, four fumbles, one interception. Those things can’t wipe out the dramatic improvement we had. It doesn’t wipe out the time of possession. As the offensive coordinator, it makes you sick that your guys are in that position. We did some good things, but the bad things we did dramatically outweighed all of the good things that we set out to and did accomplish at times.
“We moved the ball well and the difference in the amount of punts was good. But you add the punts up, and add the turnovers up, and what are you left with? Especially the turnover down in the red zone earlier in the game, the one late to put the defense in another bad spot. For our seniors, those are the ones I feel for the most. They’re the ones who are playing their hearts out. You look at some of the guys on the defensive side; Darius Hamilton, JPO and then you look as some of the guys on our side; Derrick Nelson. You look at guys who are playing their hearts out, and something isn’t right in the ball-security department and it’s preventing them from getting where they want to go. It’s a tough pill to swallow and you can’t go out there and carry the ball for them. You can’t go out there and throw the ball for them. We have to do a better job, I have to do a better job of getting them the reps, more reps if need be, getting them the reps to put them in position to be successful.
“My heart goes out to the seniors who are playing their tails off. I’m sorry to those guys. But you can’t expect to win a game on either side of the ball by putting them in that position. It doesn’t matter how many trips to the end zone you have if you don’t protect the ball”
On what he’s looking for from the quarterback: “I think the thing we’re always looking for, you get asked about style, qualities that he has. We’re looking for production and leadership. Gio (Rescigno) came in and did a nice job in the second half. He had a good week of practice. He’s a selfless, conscientious kid. So when we go into tomorrow, that’s something we’ll discuss. I don’t know if Zach Allen’s game reps were a solid assessment of his abilities, but it’s going to be an open competition. [Gio] did some good things. We’ll see tomorrow”
On the bad snaps: “We got jumpy. We got jumpy on fourth down. You look at it even, if you look at our plan to win over here. Play great defense and score points, win the turnover and takeaway battle, we didn’t do that. And then going into the red zone on third down and you can throw fourth down, win critical situations. We got jumpy. That’s the best that I can give you other than going and spending time delving into the physiological aspects of what is going on with the guys on that field. Obviously, it’s unacceptable.
On the interception that went for a touchdown: “He made the right read and he was going to the right place. I don’t know if you guys saw, but the ball was tipped by the defensive end. Credit to the kid who picked it off. He made a good play in man coverage and fell off his man and made the play. That comes at a very unfortunate time. You look what it did to the score differential at that point. The kid made a good play and they capitalized on it.
“I don’t think that we’ll ever give a break on a turnover. Is that one a little out of his control? Yes and no. In terms of his read, I give him a break on his read. He made the right read and right throw. But we’ll never accept turnovers from anyone, ever.”
On Tylin Odin playing this season: “To be honest with you, Coach Ash has a great policy that he will never burn a kid’s redshirt without asking him. Sitting him down and making him sure that he understands everything that goes into that. We spoke with Tylin and told him that we thought there were some things that you can do in this game that can help us. Do you understand the consequences that go along with that? And he did. Tylin’s gotten a little better every week. He has his own issues that he needs to get resolved.”