2015 Record: 4-8 (1-7)
Head Coach: Chris Ash (first year)
Returning Starters: 9 Offense/7 Defense
2015 Offense: 377 ypg (170 rush/207 pass); 27.1 ppg
2015 Defense: 462 ypg (186 rush/276 pass); 34.9 ppg
Offense: New head coach Chris Ash hired Drew Mehringer, who was at the University of Houston as the wide receivers coach last season, to run the offense. He'll install a run-heavy spread attack that will take some time to click because the roster, as it's currently constituted, wasn't built for this offense. That being said, Rutgers returns four starters from last year's offensive line that helped pave the way for 170 yards a game up front. The Scarlet Knights return QB Chris Laviano and the top two tailbacks from last season -- Robert Martin and Josh Hicks. Laviano is a solid passer, but the receivers, even though they only lost one wideout (Leonte Carroo), are pedestrian at best. Last year, Rutgers averaged 27.1 points per game, but that could be tough to replicate as they install the new offense.
Defense: Ash's was the defensive coordinator for Ohio State and he will install an attacking defense that will utilize it's top returning defender -- DT Darius Hamilton -- in different ways. Hamilton can get penetration up the middle versus the pass, but he's at his best stopping the run. The defensive line, across the board, is big and strong, but they aren't super-athletic. At linebacker, they lose all three starters, who, coincidentally, were the top three tacklers on the team. Heading into 2014, the Scarlet Knights had to replace all four starters in the secondary, but this year they return three starters and two, corners Isaiah Wharton and Blessuan Austin, are big, physical players who can cause problems for receivers getting off the line.
The Bottom Line: Ash has his work cut out for him, but he's not devoid of talent. He's got some very nice pieces to work with on defense, but offensively, his team could struggle to score points. The first-year head coach will be given a long-leash, at least in the first couple of years as he builds the team back up, but the 2016 season could be a struggle as they implement their program and turnover the roster.null