"I'm really excited to be out here, it's really good to be playing football again," Malast said. "I feel like we have a great team coming back with great leadership. I feel we play really well [together] and I'm ready to work."
Last year, Rutgers finished second in the Big East in pass defense at 170.6 yards per game and third in total defense allowing 327.5 yards per game. The team lost three key pieces on the defensive side of the ball with the losses of defensive tackle Eric Foster, free safety Ron Girault and linebacker Brandon Renkart. The unit will still be an experienced group with eight starters coming back and Malast is confident in the abilities of the returning players.
"There a bunch of hard workers that are just hustling all the time," he said. It's a great thing to be playing with experience on each side of you. I trust everybody around me and that makes it easier to play."
The linebacking unit has the makings to be one of the Scarlet Knights' strong points. Manny Abreu and Ryan D'Imperio are ready to go after battling injuries last year and Damaso Munoz was third on the team with 67 tackles. According to Malast, the group has formed a solid chemistry that's translating to on the field success.
"Our whole linebacking core just gets along real well," he said. "What makes our core that much better is the competition and everyone is being pushed to keep up."
Looking towards the season, Rutgers has gotten off to great starts, but had mid to late season slip ups that have cost it a chance to play in a BCS bowl game. In 2006, the Knights fell to Cincinnati after upsetting Louisville and in 2007 they lost two straight after knocking off No. 2 South Florida at home.
Malast would like his team to have a solid season and win a Big East title, but that can only be done by taking the season one day at a time.
"We want to go one step at a time," he said. "Once we do that, it will all take care of itself. When you start looking ahead, you start to lose focus."
Malast Looks to End Strong
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