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Ash needs to get things right on offense, whether Kill stays or goes

Jerry Kill’s health-related decision could put Rutgers in a really awkward situation for the ninth straight year.

News broke on Tuesday that Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill was mulling over a decision to stay or go as the OC.

According to the report, Kill is having some health issues related to his epilepsy and may wish to move on to a different challenge.

The 56-year-old former Big Ten Coach of the Year is evaluating his options and is expected to make a health-related decision in the coming days, multiple sources told NJ Advance Media.

No one is going to begrudge Kill should he leave – his personal healthy and well-being trump anything on the football field to say the least.

But, this could be a huge blow to a Rutgers program looking for some stability on offense for the first time in nearly a decade.

Should Kill leave, it would mean the ninth different offensive coordinator in the last nine seasons for the Scarlet Knights. That’s not good news, especially when we’ve seen different styles trying to be blended together, recruited to and then abandoned in quick order.

The question that Ash and Co. need to answer is if the direction they were going in in 2017 was the right one? The results on the field weren’t all that spectacular — Rutgers finished 2017 ranked 10th in rushing offense, 14th in passing offense (115.6 yards per game) and total offense (262.7), as well as 13th in scoring offense (18 points per game).

Those were not bright numbers, but this was the season where things were supposed to be built from, not the end-game of the re-design of decades of pro-style offense in Piscataway.

So, perhaps the future tells us as much as we can gleam about the vision of Ash and Co. on offense. That’s where the good news comes in.

What we do know is that there is a growing sentiment that things are moving in the right direction.

Getting 4-star quarterback Artur Sitkowski to abandon a commitment to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in order to stay home and build something says a lot about the coaching staff and direction of the program.

Sitkowski’s commitment led to a talented 3-star receiver and teammate at IMG Academy, Jalen Jordan, to commit to the Scarlet Knights as well. He’s the No. 88 ranked wide receiver in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings and is the second-highest rated player Rutgers has a commitment from.

Even more telling, Rutgers’ top four players on the board are all skill position players on offense and eight of the top 10 players on Rutgers commitment list are offensive players in general.

That is the kind of recognition of who you are and who you want to be as a program. Rutgers sees the need to upgrade and is doing everything in its power to do just that.

No matter what Kill’s decision is, Ash and Co. have got to have a long-term plan in place to keep the offense stable. So far, that plan appears in place.

So, even if Kill decides to move on, Ash is likely to find someone who fits the philosophy that has begun to be built. While the instability of a new face for the ninth-straight year may not be good, the vision for what needs to be in place on offense is there from the top and that is what should matter now.

After a season of defensive improvement, can Rutgers offense manage the same thing? That may be the question that gets answered most by what happens to the offensive coordinator position this offseason.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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