This will be Chris Ash’s 4th year as the head coach at Rutgers. In 3 years he has gone 7-29, going 1-11 overall in 2018 and winless in the B1G. Nothing went right in 2018 especially with an offense that averaged just under 2 TDs a game. Chris Ash is definitely on the hot seat this year especially after going winless in the B1G twice in the last 3 years.
By The Numbers
Coach: Chris Ash – Year: 4, Record: 7-29, Bowl Wins: 0
2018 Record: 1-11 (0-9 Big Ten)
Key Player: QB Artur Sitkowski
2018 Offensive Production: Rushing Offense – 106th, Passing Offense – 124th, 13.5 ppg – 130th (out of 130)
2018 Defensive Production: Rushing Defense – 108th, Passing Defense – 19th, 31.4 ppg allowed – 89th
Turnover Margin: -1.17, 15 Gained, 29 Lost
Sacks: 1.33 Sacks per game
Long Scrimmage Plays >20 yards: 26, 129th
Opponent Long Scrimmage Plays >20 yards: 63, 82nd
Lack of experience for the Rutgers offense was the Achilles heel for Rutgers in 2018. As a true freshman, Artur Sitowski was the worst QB in FBS and was clearly not ready for B1G. Sitkowski now has another year under the offensive scheme but the Rutgers wide receivers will need to be able to create separation and not drop balls. Sitkowski also did not have any help from the offensive line who were more porous than a screen door at the bottom of a rowboat. Hopefully, Ash provided some flex seal for 2019.
Rutgers, however, does return its WR core, its offensive line, and it’s running back. Ash brought in McLane Carter, who filled in Patrick Mahomes huge shoes at Texas Tech last year, as a grad transfer to back up Sitkowski. Sitkowski is the BMOC, for now, but another year like 2018 could put him on the bench as Ash tries to save himself from the chopping block.
Not going to lie, but I thought Rutger’s defense was worse than it actually was last year. The numbers are probably skewed since the opponents average starting position was on the 66-yard line, effectively making the field 35 percent shorter. In 2018, the majority of the Rutgers defensive problems started with problems on the offense. A better offense should help defensive numbers, especially if the defense is kept off the field. Chris Ash did also bring in Maryland’s defensive coordinator, Andy Buh. Rutgers should be able to surprise a couple teams on defense this year.
It all starts on offense. Rutgers was dead last or in the bottom 5 for most offensive categories in 2018. If the offense can score points under sophomore Artur Sitkowski, Rutgers should see a massive improvement. Now, there is no chance that Rutgers wins the B1G East. Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State will have their way with Rutgers but Maryland (with a new coach), Indiana and Illinois could be surprised with close games. There is a path to a bowl game this year for Rutgers, but as I have stressed for this entire blog, it starts with an improvement on offense.