When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

TV: Big Ten Network


-A fair quarterback battle

Call me crazy, but I think the deck was stacked against Hayden Rettig last year. Sure, it was a “battle” but Kyle Flood suspended Chris Laviano for the first half of the season opener — after breaking curfew and getting caught with a fake ID — and promptly put him in after Rettig was nearly perfect. Laviano went five (!) B1G games without a touchdown pass and Flood STILL wouldn’t give Rettig a shot. Yes, Laviano was his favorite and he played him.

That’s not my way of saying that I think Rettig is the better quarterback. Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe the current coaching staff doesn’t know yet, either. But at least there’s a clean slate for both of these guys in a new offense.

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Both have taken snaps with the first team throughout spring practice, and both could do the same on Saturday night. It would be surprising if one of them was named the starter after Saturday, especially with a new coaching staff. Odds are that they’ll let this thing play out into fall camp and then name a true winner after a true competition.

-What will Darius Hamilton be doing?

The knee injury that sidelined Darius Hamilton in 2015 still isn’t completely healed. It would’ve been nice to see the fifth-year defensive tackle back on the field at 100 percent, but that won’t be the case on Saturday.

In all likelihood, we’ll see the former All-B1G selection in a non-contact jersey in limited reps. How a defensive tackle can have a non-contact jersey is beyond me, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Perhaps more important than anything right now is just for Hamilton to get back in a game-like atmosphere and test out his knee.

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For Scarlet Knight fans expecting to see Hamilton dominate again, Saturday will likely leave them disappointed. They might have to wait five more months for that.

-The instant impact of Chris Ash’s defensive principles

If there’s one thing Rutgers fans should be confident in, it’s that Ash will make his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball.

Everybody knows about the job Ash did Ohio State. He’s obviously working with some different pieces than he did in Columbus. Still, the principles are the same.

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One of those is the rugby-style tackling that many credited Ohio State’s defensive dominance the last two years. Ash implemented that already at Rutgers. One of his former colleagues, Houston coach Tom Herman, guaranteed that Rutgers would be a much better tackling team. That’s not a bad place for a struggling defense to start.

Ash came out and said that jobs will be on the line Saturday. Even though it’s a practice, he isn’t treating it like one. You should see more physicality on the defensive side of the ball — where few, if any jobs are locked in — than in a typical spring game. That would be just the way Ash likes it.