For the fourth straight season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will be breaking in a new defensive play-caller during spring practice. Back in 2010, defensive coordinator Bob Fraser ran the show. Head coach Greg Schiano took over the play-calling from him, however in 2011 before leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Schiano left for the NFL, Robb Smith, the former coach’s protege, took over the defense in 2012, but he’s not left to join Schiano at the next level.
Now, it’s Dave Cohen‘s job to run the Knights’ defense which ranked as the No. 10 total defense in college football a season ago. Luckily for Rutgers, much of their turnover at the top of their defense has been because they have played well enough to get their coordinators better jobs, so there’s a system that works already in place. And with Cohen acting as an assistant in the program last season, he knows just what it will take to keep the defense humming in 2013.
The biggest adjustment for the players will be the voice who’s barking at them during practice. Head coach Kyle Flood knows that the players will get to see a different side of Cohen then they got last year, but has faith that the former Western Michigan, Delaware and Fordham DC will get the job done. Cohen is taking on the same philosophy and terminology that Smith installed last year and simply making them his own.
That isn’t to say Cohen will be able to just walk in and find instant success. Rutgers lost several key players on defense this offseason that they will need to replace and Knights will have their hands full trying to win another piece of the Big East title before leaving the conference. The pressure will be on for Cohen to hold the group together and take them to the next level, as everyone expects the defense to once again carry Rutgers in 2013.
Can Rutgers duplicate their defensive success with yet another coordinator or will the revolving door finally come back to hurt them?