Rutgers DC Jay Niemann Breaks Down the Details of His Scheme, Team Performance

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann went into extreme detail about his plans for the players and the latest with the Scarlet Knights. Niemann breaks down his dynamic with head coach Chris Ash, Darius Hamilton, the linebacker battles and more.

On the depth at linebacker…

“We really didn’t know much about the guys as we do now. But I think that as people continue progress, we’ll have the opportunity to put a two-deep out there that we feel comfortable with. Who those guys are at this point remains to be seen, but I think that material’s there. We just got to get through these next (practices) and we should be good at that point.”

On the added weight by some linebackers…

“We’ll expect them to play more physical. They were a little bit light, as you mentioned, in the spring. Coach [Kenny] Parker’s done a good job of getting weight and strength on them, but it doesn’t matter unless that transfers onto the field in terms of … tackling and doing everything physical as a player. So today was the first day out there with anything besides helmets. We were able to wear shoulder pads today, so it’ll be a good evaluation as soon as we’re done with the interview. Let’s see how we looked.”

On how Najee Clayton looks at the SAM…

“Najee’s made a lot of strides like the other two (Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts). He’s put on a substantial amount of weight and looks at this point that he’s been able to maintain some of his movement skills. His speed and quickness skills are, I think, very similar to where they were before the weight gain, so that’s a real positive and we’ll see if he can hold onto that and maintain that throughout the course of camp.”

On what T.J. Taylor has to do coming off the injury to get in the mix on the two-deep…

“It was a tough spring for him because he wasn’t able to move at 100-percent efficiency, so that made a difficult evaluation. So we got to kind of pick up from there from this camp and see where we can go, but really (it will) come down to production and efficiency and movement skills. Those types of things will be what we’re looking at most closely. But he’s a sharp guy, good on his assignments, fundamentally sound. Got to see if he can come along in those other areas.”

On what he has seen out of Darius Hamilton the past three days of camp…

“Well, it’s really tough to evaluate a lineman when you’re not wearing pads. So, again, today it was the first opportunity to kind of see that. But certainly, he has a little bit of a twitch and some gifted as far as foot speed quickness and things of that nature that maybe some of the other guys don’t have. But his ability to rush the passer and do some things as far as getting off blocks will be to his advantage. He’s very good with his hands, very good with his hands and up front, that’s critical to our success.”

On the flexibility of Kevin Wilkins at the three-technique and nose tackle…

“He’ll be able to play the nose or the three, but he’s got some characteristics that are similar to Darius in terms of a little bit twitchier kind of guy, a little bit better motor and a little bit better speed and quickness and pretty good hands. So, it really, when it gets down to it, if you get a two-deep of and you’re dual-training your players, you’re going to end up taking the third-best guy and putting him in the game if one of your starters goes down. Ideally, that’s the way we’d like to be able to handle it if it comes to that.”

On being defensive coordinator to Chris Ash…

“I think (familiarity) helps, certainly. We’ve known each other for a long time, but there’s a philosophical compatibility that makes coach Ash comfortable and how comfortable I am is irrelevant. It’s him that has to be comfortable, so it’s those two things that really I think make it work the way it does.”


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