Dienhart: What I’ll be watching at Rutgers fall practice
Chris Ash endured a challenging debut at Rutgers. The problems were many on both sides of the ball. But hope springs eternal for Ash in Year Two. A big reason for hope is the arrival of Jerry Kill as offensive coordinator. This is an attack that needs help. And the defense has a lot to prove, especially along the front seven. It also sounds like a lot—and I mean A LOT—of freshmen will play this year.
Here are five areas I will be watching at Scarlet Knights practice.
1. How are the quarterbacks? This position has been an issue for a while. And, it continues to nag. The arrival of Louisville graduate transfer Kyle Bolin could be an elixir. And true freshman Jonathan Lewis is intriguing. Gio Rescigno also is in the mix. In fact, Rescigno sits atop the pecking order for now. But stay tuned.
2. What will the offense look like? Jerry Kill is Rutgers’ eighth offensive coordinator in eight years. Not good. Kill typically likes to use the tight end and fullback. How much hurry-up and/or no-huddle will there be? Bottom line: Look for a mix of pro-style and spread. RU got shut out four times last season.
3. How does Janarion Grant look? The Scarlet Knights need their playmaker to be healthy after his 2016 season ended with a broken ankle last September. Grant impacts the game on so many levels, as a ballcarrier, wideout and return man. This is a Scarlet Knight attack that needs all the help it can get. No player in red may be more valuable.
4. How good is the defense? There is a lot of experience, as nine starters are back. The entire back seven is returning. But will that experience translate into a good unit? This defense was No. 126 (of 128) vs. the run last year. The line has a lot to prove. The good news: The secondary is one of the more underrated units in the conference. The defense received a blow early in camp when projected starting LB Tyreek Maddox-Williams was lost for the season with injury.
5. How is the o-line? The unit has a chance to be pretty good and looks set at four slots, with LT Tariq Cole, LG Dorian Miller, C Jonah Jackson and RT Kamaal Seymour entrenched. The spot to watch is right guard. Marcus Applefield could be that guy. This line will have some nice backs to block for, including Miami (Fla.) grad transfer Gus Edwards.