Rutgers has made more headlines for its offensive coordinator changes over the last several seasons. But there have been plenty of adjustments on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Perhaps folks did not notice so much because that group has been playing at a high level.
For the fourth straight season, somebody new will be calling the defensive plays. In 2011, coach Greg Schiano did it while Bob Fraser retained the defensive coordinator position. After Schiano left for Tampa Bay, his protege, Robb Smith, took over as coordinator and play caller in 2012.
With Smith off to join Schiano, Dave Cohen takes over those duties.
Fortunately, the players' adjustment level has been minimal. There has been no real scheme shift to speak of, no wholesale changes to the playbook, no different way of doing business. Cohen served as an assistant on staff last season, so he is well versed in the Rutgers way of doing business on defense.
"When we went from Coach Schiano to Coach Smith, they had the same philosophy because they worked with each other for so long, so not many things changed," linebacker Kevin Snyder said in a recent phone interview. "When Coach Cohen came, he took on the same philosophy that Coach Smith instilled in our defense. He has continued to preach the same thing. There is some continuity in what we’re doing. We’re not just bringing in brand new people and starting over. It’s a continuing process on our defense with the same thing."
Cohen has served as a defensive coordinator at Western Michigan, Delaware and Fordham so he knows what it takes to get the job done. About the only thing expected to change is players seeing him now as the guy in charge.
"They’re seeing a different side to coach Cohen, but I worked with him for three years in that role so I knew exactly what we were going to get and how that was going to look on the field when we promoted him. There is always a little bit of an adjustment period when the voices change, but again with the system being intact, that will go a long way in helping," head coach Kyle Flood said.
Still, Cohen has plenty of work to do this spring, as the Scarlet Knights go about trying to replace so many key players on defense. There is no question he is going to be in the spotlight this season because the defense has been the backbone of this program over the last several years.