Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kirk Ciarrocca and defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak spoke to the media on Wednesday. It was the first time the coaches spoke to the media during the season, and it came in the midst of Rutgers football's bye week.
Following their week off, the Scarlet Knights (6-2, 3-2) will face Ohio State when they return to SHI Stadium on Busch campus on November 4. Ciarrocca and Harasymiak will look to use the week off to prep their respective units for the final third of the season.
Ciarrocca started off by speaking on the growth he has seen from junior quarterback Gavin Wimsatt. He has noticed Wimsatt has been actively improving and learning throughout the season.
"I've seen steady improvement overall," Ciarrocca said. "When you're developing a quarterback, there's some peaks and there's valleys, and how quickly you recover — what do you learn from those valleys? But I've definitely seen growth from the start of January to now, and we're going to keep growing every day learning."
Wimsatt ran for three touchdowns against Indiana, including an 80-yard scamper down the sideline to put the game away. His playmaking skills and decision-making have made him a better quarterback in his third season on the Banks.
Junior running back Kyle Monangai has been another key player for the Rutgers offense. Ciarrocca briefly touched on the impact he's seen from Monangai and how he is proud of his play on the field.
"He plays the game really hard. He's a very intelligent football player, so he makes a lot of the correct split-second decisions that are out there," Ciarrocca said. "He takes great pride in how hard he plays. He's very committed and accountable to his teammates. There’s never a let-up in him. His preparation is second to none each week."
Ciarrocca also mentioned what he has seen from senior wide receiver Christian Dremel and how he has embraced the coaching he has received.
"A smarter player's a better player. He's definitely made himself a smarter receiver," Ciarrocca said. "He’s improved his details and then his confidence in himself. I've really seen that grow from spring ball (and) throughout the season."
The offensive line's performance will also play a factor in Wimsatt's growth.
"There are three phases to it: there's a quarterback's accuracy and decision making, there's the receiver’s making plays on the ball and then there’s the protection element of it. We've been working hard in this bye week improving each one of those areas," Ciarrocca said.
Harasymiak mentioned one of the main defensive successes this season has been "living in the big play." Harasymiak recognized some of the other defensive coaches that have helped the success of the defense.
"The human beings that are covering have a lot to do with it," Harasymiak said on the success of the "Dark Side defense." "(Cornerbacks coach Mark Orphey), (Safeties coach Drew Lascari), what they’ve done (and) with those guys coming back, we can cover with the best of them. And that’s been a good sign."
With junior linebacker Tyreem Powell being out for the remainder of the season, Harasymiak mentioned that the roles of the defensive staff and players will also have to expand as the opponents get tougher.
Harasymiak spotlighted a few players on the Rutgers defense and discussed how these players help give the team momentum in games. These players include junior defensive backs Robert Longerbeam, Max Melton and Eric Rogers.
Harasymiak spoke about junior defensive lineman Aaron Lewis' potential breakout.
"We're doing the right things in practice. And if you relate that to what (Lewis) is doing, he's doing all the right things," Harasymiak said. "There's gonna come a time (and) there's gonna come a game where he explodes. And hopefully, it’ll be very soon."
The Knights will return home on Saturday, November 4, for their matchup against the Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0). The game against No. 3 Ohio State will kick off at noon and be available on CBS and 88.7 WRSU-FM.
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