Rutgers (0-1) heads into this weekend looking forward to its home opener. The Scarlet Knights have a new head coach, Chris Ash, and they’re trying to bounce back from a tough 48-13 loss against a ranked Washington squad.
The fact that the home opener is against Howard, an 0-1 MEAC team, doesn’t seem to bother Ash at all.
“Excited to play our home opener. I’ve said this many times, as a visiting coach, the experience that I had here at High Point Solutions Stadium has been a great one,” Ash told the media on Monday. “It’s been a great environment, and I hope to see that environment firsthand as a Rutgers football coach here this Saturday. Looking forward to having the students show up and support our football team and experience gameday here with us.”
It’s a new era of Rutgers football, and though the team couldn’t come up with a big upset win in Week 1, Ash will certainly take any positive momentum he can get in Week 2. That’s not to discredit the Bison of Howard, but this is a game the Scarlet Knights should win.
Big Ten teams don’t lose to MEAC teams, especially in year one of a new coach’s tenure. Especially in front of the home crowd.
Despite the underwhelming opponent, this is still a chance for Ash to make a good impression in his first home game. Rutgers is 101-36-10 all-time in home openers and the Scarlet Knights have won the past four games against the Bison by a combined score of 165-39.
Rutgers is expected to blow out Howard, and frankly, Ash needs that type of win. It will give him his first win as head coach, get the Scarlet Knights out of “oh-and” territory, and send the fans home happy.
Ash can’t ask for much more than that from a home opener. Nobody is expecting the Scarlet Knights to be Big Ten contenders, but fans are expecting a positive experience and reason to hope that the Ash era of Rutgers football will be bright.
“We spent a lot of time here as an athletic department trying to evaluate game day and trying to recreate it and make some changes to make it the best game day experience that you could possibly have,” Ash said. “Obviously as the head coach, I understand that the product you put on the field and how you play really helps determine what type of experience fans have on game day, and we hope to continue to go out and improve and put on a good show and put a good product out there here this Saturday.”