Coaching Spotlight: DC Dave Cohen

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Dave Cohen enters his second season with Rutgers and first as a defensive coordinator. Speaking while available during Rutgers media day, Cohen went in-depth on expectations going into kickoff against Fresno State.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers defense lost a strong senior group to the NFL and the remnants of the Greg Schiano defense with Robb Smith's switch to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Defensive coordinator Dave Cohen stepped in for Smith, however, and said people can expect the same Rutgers defense in 2013 with his personal touch on the play calling.

"I had run some similar schemes before getting the job here and I learned some great additions through coach Smith and the whole Rutgers defensive family," Cohen said. "There will be a lot of similarities. It's a proven system. It's a football system. It's something that's been passed on and proven to succeed."

Cohen worked with linebackers in coach Kyle Flood's first year as Rutgers head coach. Prior to a year preparing Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais for the NFL, Cohen was a defensive play caller at both Western Michigan, Delaware and Hofstra.

A year away from play calling at Rutgers, Cohen said, was more of an aberration than returning as a defensive coordinator this year.

"It's different but it's not like I haven't been in this position before," Cohen said. "Prior to Rutgers, I was either a coordinator or a head coach for the last 18 years. I have a great defensive staff that has a lot of experience in places where they've had success."

Rutgers lost the majority of its contributing defensive backs to the NFL and the development of young players is in the spotlight.

"The biggest transition right now is just trying to solidify the secondary," Cohen said. "It isn't as experienced as we'd like it to be, but we're improving daily and that's exciting."

At the midway point in camp, Cohen liked what he saw from the defense. After struggling in the first scrimmage of camp, the first two teams bounced back and limited the Gary Nova and the passing game.

"They looked good," Cohen said. "We're hoping to get Max Issaka back and get everybody healthy. When we get everybody going, I saw some glimpses of greatness in the spring."

Cohen helped recruit many of the freshmen pushing for playing time, but said having his own recruits in the program is not a big difference.

Before Rutgers, Cohen coached cornerback Lewis Toler at Western Michigan and recruited linebacker L.J. Liston out of high school. He said he is happy to have both in his meetings at Rutgers.

"That stuff is nice, but we're a family," Cohen said. "It doesn't matter how we get here because we're all in it together. It's nice to have good editions to our family, especially when you recruited them, but we are a family first."

Cohen listed Liston, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph and cornerback Nadir Barnwell as early true freshman standouts. He said guys not pushing for time, however, could have higher ceilings in his defense as juniors and seniors.

"Look at redshirt kids that have a lower floor but a ceiling that is so much higher," he said. "Take a guy like Myles Nash or a guy like Kemoko Turay, it's a marathon. It's not a sprint. At the end of the day, those were two very big recruits for us that are going to be very good players. That's going to take time to fill out into that 6-foot-5 frame. Work needs to be judged at the end of the life, not at the beginning."

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