Coordinator Speak: Week One Preview with Drew Mehringer, Jay Niemann

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A detailed look at what Rutgers can expect on Saturday from coordinators Drew Mehringer and Jay Niemann.

Offensive Coordinator Drew Mehringer on what Chris Laviano has shown since he became the starting quarterback…

“The last time I was asked about that I made a reference to the development that he’s had post spring through summer. … The biggest thing I talked to him about is consistency. Will you be consistent everyday? And earning that (iron knight) award from the weight room, from Kenny Parker — which is not handed out easily — was definitely a testament to his consistency there and earning this job, which is not given easily, was definitely also a testament to the amount of consistency that he has shown. He’s not perfect by any means. We’ve still got a lot of improvement still left, another week of preparation for to play Washington. But for him, earning the job was all about him not putting the ball in jeopardizing situations, consistent play and consistent leadership for our offense.”

On where Laviano is in the playbook as far as how much he does at quarterback…

“I think the biggest misnomer that a lot of people have about the quote-unquote spread offense or spread-formation offense is that it’s quarterback-centric — that he is the pass game, he is the run game, he is everything and that is not the case in our offense. We believe in something called a distribution factor, where we want as many guys to touch the ball as possible. We look at the stat sheet in a game, eight or nine people have receptions. Three or four people, five people have rushes. That’s a good game for us in terms of our distribution numbers. Are we going to ask Chris Laviano to be the only person that’s going to make yards, make touchdowns, create points? Absolutely not, so I think … we’re going to use him as a game manager and as somebody that can get the ball to playmakers in space.”

On the backup situation at quarterback…

“Both of them have a very good understanding, Zach (Allen) and Gio (Rescigno), have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively. They both practice very hard. They both have good leadership abilities. One of the things that I think both of them need to have is, like I talked about with Chris, is they both have to be more consistent in day-to-day practices. We have not named the backup yet. Hayden Rettig’s the same way. He’s right in there. … What can they do every single day? Are the mistakes going to keep showing up or is that continual improvement going to be there?”

On Justin Goodwin

“Justin Goodwin has showed up everyday. The thing that we talked about with Goody — Goody is a great kid. He’s a lot of fun to be around. We asked him in the spring, ‘Are you just a nice guy? Is that all you are? Are you just a nice guy?’ And he kind of was like, ‘No I’m not, I’m a tough football player.’ I was like, ‘Well, we’ve got to see that. We’ve got to see that.’ And Goody came out and played really physical this fall, came out as an intelligent kid who understands exactly what we’re doing when the defensive front changes, when the blitzes change, he reacts and fits right in with the offensive line protection wise. So he’s done a tremendous job. I have no hesitation when he goes into the game at all because I believe in that kid and amount of work that he’s put in.”

Defensive coordinator Jay Niemann on linebackers...

“The group has worked really hard. I've been happy with their progress. I mentioned to several of you a couple of weeks back when I had a training camp media session that I thought that we had developed some depth there. I still feel that way. We just have to continue to grow and learn as a group but I do like the progress.”

On Greg Jones and Najee Clayton...

“I see both of those guys playing in the game. I feel right now Jones has got a little bit of an edge from the standpoint of his overall performance. … He's a really savvy football player, very smart football player. He picks up on thighs quickly and that's allowed for his growth to come at the rate that it has. He just gets better all the time as he gets more and more comfortable at the position. We've also used him some in pass-rushing situations as well. He has a knack for that. He's just progressed nicely all the way back from practice one in spring practice to where we are today.”

On pass-rushing packages...

“It's a third-down deal. That is an area that we're continuing to evaluate. I mentioned something about the possibility of Greg Jones, all different kinds of personnel can be looked at. You can look at moving ends to tackles, moving linebackers to edge rushers, there's all different kinds of options and possibilities. That's more of a third down deal. Having said that, if the production of any substitutions don't make us better than the original four that we normally play with then it's not going to be worth that.”

On young but experienced corners...

“It helps you all of the time to have experienced players regardless of whether they're young guys that are experienced or old guys that are experienced. They're somewhat battle tested, so they've gone through the process of going out into a game and a venue that we're about to experience. Not having done it for the first time is definitely a bonus. Those guys have great futures here. I guess the positive news for us is they do have some experience already, and it's not like they're toward the back end of their careers.”


Scarlet Report Top Stories