Sam Hellman / Scarlet Report

Audio: 1-on-1 with Rutgers DC Jay Niemann

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Listen to and read a Rutgers Media Day sitdown conversation with defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. Niemann discussed the detailed changes in the Rutgers defense, including the press-man coverage philosophy and pressuring the quarterback.

 

For the highlights of Scarlet Report's conversation with Niemann, a transcript of key comments is available below...

On the transition to press-man coverage...

“There's a learning curve there. I think a lot of people feel like playing press is just about speed. There's a lot of technique involved and you can go all the way back to the first couple days of spring practice and see how they played compared to how they're playing now from a technique standpoint and there's been a tremendous improvement. The beauty of getting into a scrimmage situation is they're on the field by themselves without coaches around them making little coaching points that sometimes help them in a practice format. You get to see them go out on their own and find out of those steps of progression and improvement have actually taken place.”

On necessary technique for press-man coverage...

“It starts with feet and hands are supplemental, if you will, to the technique. It depends on the release of the receiver a little bit. If he wants to come straight off the line at you, that's different than a guy who is obviously trying to maneuver inside and outside. The feet is where it starts.”

On the defensive secondary...

“I wasn't here to know what exactly all went on but I just know a lot of guys just got pressed into playing-time situations before they were probably ready. Consequently, the thing you've got to do as a coaching staff is back them off the ball and try not to have balls thrown over your head. It's kind of survival mode if you will.”

On the linebackers...

“We're starting to develop some depth there. We're a work in progress. There's no question about that. There's still mistakes being made but what we are coaching, we're seeing that show up on the field. That's obviously what you want to have happen and now hopefully the production comes along with it. There's strides and improvements being made there.”

On linebacker development...

“Normally you would say it's the new players [who come the farthest] but given the fact that the system is new to everybody, they're really all in the same boat from that standpoint. In another year I would probably answer that question in another way.”

On quarterback pressure...

“That's situational. There's times when you obviously know you want to blitz. The game plan tells you to do it based on your studies of an opponent on a weekly basis. Then there's going to be times where, in the course of the game, you have to realize 'hey we're not getting pressure with our down four [linemen] so we're going to have to come up with a different way to get him.' That's just something you've got to make in-game adjustments on when you get into that situation.”

On if Rutgers can be an effective blitzing team...

“In terms of having people who can actually apply pressure to the quarterback, they're coming fro the second level whether they're nickels, [line]backers, safeties, corners, whatever, yeah. I think there's guys who can do that. What I want to see us do is progress and become a really good four-man rush team. Then at that point in time you can pick and choose your spots a little more selectively if you want to add that fifth and sixth rusher.”

On who jumped out so far...

“The guys up front, we've been taking about JPO (Julian Pinnix-Odrick), [Darius] Hamilton, Quanzell [Lambert], those guys have all gotten off to a really good start. I think they've done some good things here coming out of the blocks. Eric Margolis, who wasn't able to participate in the spring because of an injury that he was rehabbing, came back in the summer and picked up with coach [Kenny] Parker and got into the summer workouts. He came in and has done everything without restriction and in these first seven practices. He's done a nice job. Kevin Marquez, the three starters at linebacker have all shown flashes of being able to hold down those starting spots and show some production. As I said the other day after we got done with practice No. 4, that competition is still wide open. The guys that are on paper twos right now are still very much in competition with the guys who have been running with that first unit. I see that competition ongoing at least through next Saturday and maybe beyond. We may be in a situation where they're so close, we may be playing more of a rotational type of a situation. We'll have to see how it plays out.”


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