Rutgers coach Kyle Flood knew changes had to come after a 6-7 2013 campaign, and those came quickly with his coaching staff after the end of the season. Flood fired defensive coordinator Dave Cohen almost immediately after the regular season finale against South Florida, and had to make a move at offensive coordinator after losing Ron Prince to the Detroit Lions. Rutgers now has new coordinators at all three levels, and ScarletReport.com examines.
Flood deserves credit here when the long wait for an offensive coordinator paid off with Ralph Friedgen. Athletic director Julie Hermann gave Flood increased resources, and the result is one of the biggest names on the East Coast when it comes to college offenses.
Friedgen’s two-year deal worth $500,000 a year is the most Rutgers has ever paid an assistant, and it gives Rutgers a refreshed look on offense. Friedgen has not had ideal time to put his touch on the Rutgers scheme yet, but he has a reputation of quarterback development and a balanced offensive attack. Rutgers has the weapons offensively and then some. Running back Paul James, tight end Tyler Kroft and receiver Leonte Carroo are legitimate playmakers at the Big Ten level.
The challenge for Friedgen is to use them in unconventional ways, and develop consistency at quarterback. Build up Gary Nova’s confidence and do not ask him to do things outside of his skill set. Friedgen has five returning starters on the offensive line, and will be refreshed with new ideas after a few years away from coaching.
The promotion of Joe Rossi took nearly two months, but the result is a young, hungry coach with inside knowledge of the Rutgers defense. Rossi learned the details of the system during his first two years – including year one with Robb Smith – and will now put his own twist on it.
Rossi gave the first glimpse of his style in the Pinstripe Bowl against Notre Dame. Rutgers showed improvements with the same personnel, especially in the red zone, but it was not enough to lock up the Fighting Irish. Look for more changes this season now that Rossi has time to make changes.
The first change came in the offseason with the long awaited linebacker flip for Steve Longa and Kevin Snyder. Rossi has a talented albeit inexperienced young group of defensive linemen and a pool of freshly recruited defensive backs to rebuild the Rutgers defense.
Do not expect any philosophy changes with Bob Fraser back on the Banks. Rutgers will remain aggressive and focused on its special teams execution. Fraser is one of the architects of the Rutgers defense and special teams schemes alongside Greg Schiano, and his return should not be overlooked.
Fraser can be expected to bring the aggression on punt block, and has exciting weapons with which to work on special teams. The highlight is sophomore Janarion Grant, who scored on his first career touch and was the most improved offensive player of spring.