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Chris Ash: First Scrimmage Tests Rutgers’ Progress

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- What does Rutgers coach Chris Ash want to see Saturday when the Scarlet Knights run their first scrimmage of the spring? Four practices in, Ash assesses the progress of the team, including an update at quarterback.

Rutgers goes live Saturday with its first scrimmage of the spring, which marks the fifth day of camp.

To Chris Ash, it carries serious weight.

“This is going to be our first time to really go live, so we want to see how our players respond in those situations and Saturday’s going to be huge,” Ash said. “Every Saturday’s important. We scrimmage even more so than the spring game because the spring game, we’ll use what we do, certain things that we do on these competition Saturdays that we don’t do in a spring game.

“So, I’m looking forward to Saturday. I’m really please with the progress we’ve made through four practices, but Saturday will be a big, real challenge for our players, be a big evaluation for us to see where we’re at.”

Rutgers released its first depth chart of the spring, which pegs Giovanni Rescigno as the starting quarterback ahead of Zach Allen and Tylin Oden.

“Gio is progressing,” Ash said. “… I think Gio is really connected with coach (Jerry) Kill and I think they’ve got a great relationship. I think he’s obviously ahead of the curve a little bit because he got a lot of playing time at the end of last season.

“I think what Gio is demonstrating right now, through four practices, is his decision-making has improved. He’s not putting the ball in harm’s way. He knows when to pull it down. He’s got two hands on the ball. Good ball security where he necessarily wouldn’t have that because last year, he was kind of a wild horse out there running around trying to make plays, which he’s still trying to do, but he’s trying to do it in a safer way.”

Ash sees progress in Rescigno and the offense. Live scrimmaging puts that to the test.

“Anytime we show up to practice, it’s important,” Ash said. “But when we show up to scrimmage like we will on Saturday, it’s even more important. Today was really the first time we went first down, second down, third down. We did a little bit of move the ball at the end, where we’re going through substitution changes and need to know how aware of the third-down situation. We had some issues with that, but Saturday it’s got to get cleaner. That’s the big part of Saturday.”

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