Iowa Football

Iowa football: 5 Things to know about Rutgers

Ottumwa native Chris Ash brings Scarlet Knights to Iowa City

Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Chris Ash. (Jim Young/USA TODAY Sports)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Chris Ash. (Jim Young/USA TODAY Sports)
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It’s Week 2 and already time for some real Big Ten football.

Iowa kicks off its league season Saturday, hosting Rutgers inside Kinnick Stadium.

These two teams have a very short history. They’ve met once, a 14-7 Iowa win at Rutgers in 2016.

That’s it.

Both teams are 1-0 after opening their campaigns last week. The Scarlet Knights took down Massachusetts, 48-21, on Friday and the Hawkeyes whipped Miami (Ohio), 38-14, on Saturday.

Here are “5 Things” about Rutgers:

1. Iowa connection

Chris Ash is in his fourth season as the Rutgers head football coach.

Ash has deep roots in Iowa.

He grew up in Ottumwa, played for and graduated from Drake and earned his master’s degree from Iowa State.

He also coached at both schools and was the defensive coordinator at Drake in 1998 and ’99. He also coached at San Diego State — under former Hawkeye great Chuck Long — as well as Wisconsin, Arkansas and Ohio State. He worked for another former Iowa standout, Bret Bielema. at Arkansas.

Ash said there is nothing sentimental about going “home,” but admitted he grew up a Hawkeye fan during his weekly news conference Monday.

“My whole family grew up as Iowa fans,” he said.

But he hasn’t spent a lot of time at Kinnick Stadium.

“I don’t think I started going to any games until probably after high school to be honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t go to many games there. I’ve probably been to three or four games there.”

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2. More Iowa connections

Rutgers wide receivers coach Lester Erb spent 13 seasons on the Hawkeye staff.

A native of Milton, Pa., Erb coached special teams, wide receivers and running backs at Iowa, including Shonn Green and Nate Kaeding during their All-American seasons in Iowa City.

 
 

Rutgers defensive line coach Corey Brown played for Iowa, graduating in 2005. In 1999, his senior season, he started all 11 games at defensive tackle and ranked ninth on the team with 52 tackles.

On the flip side, Iowa assistant Jay Niemann spent three seasons on the Rutgers staff as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Originally from Avoca, Iowa, Niemann played linebacker at Iowa State. His son, Ben, lettered at Iowa and another son, Nick, is on the Hawkeye roster now.

3. On Iowa

Ash has great respect for the Iowa program and the job Kirk Ferentz has done in Iowa City.

He’d like to duplicate that success in Piscataway, N.J.

“... they have been the model of consistency for years,” he said Monday. “Kirk has done an unbelievable job. I have got nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person and him as a coach and what he has done with the staff and the program.

 

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“They try to do things first class in everything that they do. They coach exceptionally well. They develop guys. They recruit guys, like you mentioned that fit their culture, fit their program that they can develop and they are not worried about headlines and stars or worried about fits and the ability to develop.

“It’s been a pretty consistent and successful formula.”

4. The roster

As you’d expect, the vast majority of the Rutgers players are from New Jersey.

But, of course, not all them are. Some — Robin Jutwreten, Adam Korsak, Anton Oskarsson and Sam Vretman — aren’t even from the United States.

Jutwreten is a 6-foot-5, 259-pound redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Stockhom, Sweden. He played in one game last year and, according to his bio, was “rated the No. 1 player in Sweden’s 2018 class and the world 91st-ranked defensive end.”

Vretman, 6-6 and 305, plays on the offensive line and also is from Sweden (Upplands Vasby). He played at Rocky Mountain high school in Meridian, Idaho, before his transfer to Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. He and Jutwreten played on the Arlanda Jets — a Stockholm football team — together.

Korsak is from Melbourne, Australia, and was an honorable mention all-Big Ten punter who set a school record last year with a 79-yard kick against Northwestern. He played Australian rules football, cricket and golf growing up.

Oskarsson is a 6-5, 270-pound freshman offensive lineman from Kumla, Sweden.

5. History lesson

Rutgers is known as the “birthplace of college football.”

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That’s because, on Nov. 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton University played in the first “intercollegiate football game.”

The two teams met on a “small plot of land” on Rutgers’ campus in a game that looked more like rugby than today’s football.

Rutgers, known as the Queensmen at the time, won “6 goals to 4.” They wore “scarlet kerchiefs atop their heads in an effort to distinguish between the two teams.”

The two teams met again a week later and Princeton won, 8 goals to 0. The two teams planned a third game, but it was called off because many felt the extra curricular activities were getting in the way of studies.

 

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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