Defensive coordinator Robb Smith, All-American linebacker Khaseem Greene and early NFL departure Logan Ryan are gone after a spectacular 2012 campaign. But as new defensive coordinator Dave Cohen sees it, Rutgers is ready to reload.
"I'm excited," Cohen said today. "Obviously I want to add to a great tradition. Rutgers is playing good defense for a long time here. I'm really excited. Obviously we're losing some very good players. The cupboard is far from being bare and we're excited getting these young players ready to go."
Speaking with members of the media on an afternoon conference call, head coach Kyle Flood and Cohen described plans to keep the defense the same.
New offensive coordinator Ron Prince and Flood will build a different playbook leading up to the spring, however, it was important to keep the defense the same after experiencing success in 2012.
"It's very important to me that Dave was able to work with Robb within our system of defense," Flood said. "We have a way that we play defense here at Rutgers that is not going to change, and Dave's resume as a defensive coordinator is excellent.
"I was fortunate to spend three years with him at the University of Delaware when he was a defensive coordinator. So I was able to see already, in-person what he can do in that role."
Cohen will run the same defensive scheme as Smith, with an emphasis on front seven aggression and creative blitz packages out of a 4-3 scheme.
A new defensive coordinator, however, means that Cohen will put his personal twist on the defense.
"I think it's important [to keep things the same], but every time a coordinator stands in front of the room, that defense becomes their defense," Flood said. "When that person was Greg Schiano, it was Greg Schiano. When that person was Robb Smith it was Robb Smith and now going forward that person will be Dave Cohen."
Flood added that Smith will be greatly missed at Rutgers.
Smith was the lone full-time assistant to remain at Rutgers with Flood during the coaching change, but the chance to move on to an NFL position coach job could not be passed up.
"I certainly would liked to have kept Robb and I wanted Robb to stay, but I think over the last several years, we've had some coaches move on either to be head coaches or to go to the NFL," Flood said. "And I think those are two things that, when you're an assistant coach, are always goals and I'm really happy for Robb and Amy Smith that they're going to have an opportunity to live out one of his dreams and to be down in Tampa, certainly with a lot of people we think very highly of here at Rutgers."