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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Follow-up: how Rutgers' defense could look on third downs

Jamil Merrell said he wouldn't be surprised if he moved to defensive tackle on passing downs, opening up potential for four pass rushers on a given play. Four-and-a-half of his 5.5 sacks in 2012 came at tackle. (Tyler Barto)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Jamil Merrell, now at defensive end, said Sunday he wouldn't be surprised if he moved inside on passing downs. The look would give Rutgers four pass rushers across the line, potentially including 257-pound three-technique Darius Hamilton.

“I’m willing to do anything for this defense," Merrell said. "I played three-tech, back to end now, so it wouldn’t be anything new to me.”

Quanzell Lambert, a redshirt freshman new to end, should see time as a pass rusher in Rutgers' nickel defense, according to one player. Hamilton and Merrell said they expect it.

“He’s solid, he’s quick and he’s a player," Hamilton said of Lambert. "He’s a hard worker. At the end of the day, you can write down, you can take notes, but you have to go out and play. ... You can take all the notes in the world, but when that ball snaps, you’re not going to make plays. Quanzell has that ability.”

IN PRINT: Darius Hamilton, Jamil Merrell are versatile cogs

Rutgers' defense requires smaller, high-motor linemen capable of penetrating running lanes and collapsing the pocket. It used the philosophy from 2011-12 almost to a fault, relying on former linebackers regularly in its base defense.

Its pass rush suffered. Hamilton thinks linebackers could be used less in 2013 as third-down ends.

“I’m sure there’s going to be schemes for them, but from what I’ve seen from us so far … I really feel comfortable with our four down linemen," he said.

“The way we move so much, to go left and right and straight, that creates problems for the offense," Merrell said.

RELATED: Jamil Merrell named team captain

Lambert, a former linebacker, fits the mold. So, too, does Hamilton, who said some people close to him yearned for him to play end because of his body type.

He insists his move early last year to the three-technique — where a linemen lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard — is permanent. Hamilton said his responsibilities — steps, gaps — aren't too different from a nose tackle, often a larger, space-eating defender.

“The nose is more of a stuff everything at the line of scrimmage kind of guy," Hamilton said. "It’s just a big guy who can take on two, take on three at times. The three is more of a power-finesse, he can do anything.”

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