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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rutgers adds layers to defense, plus talk of the read option

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — The read option has become a buzzword in the NFL, so much so SI's Greg Bedard wrote a piece for the MMQB tracing the play sequence's college roots.

Kevin Snyder said Rutgers' linebackers have worked against it briefly with defensive coordinator Dave Cohen through nearly a week of training camp. Cohen has focused on defending Rutgers' zone schemes and play-action looks that follow.

"The one thing you need to understand is discipline it takes to play a read-option team like that," Snyder said Wednesday. "Everybody needs to understand their assignment every play. Even though you might not make the play, you need to do your job or else you're going to get split or gashed."

The read option features quick-twitch decisions from a quarterback, who must decide to either feed a running back on a power play from the shotgun or break contain. Pass wrinkles add dimension.

Kevin Snyder's linebacker rotation seldom involved
pass defense responsibilites on third down. (Tyler Barto)

It has become the flavor of the week in college circles, and the NFL adopted it with fanfare a year ago.

IN PRINT: Rutgers is going all in with Steve Longa

South Florida featured the play design with mobile quarterback B.J. Daniels, and Cincinnati has similar looks. The read option should be more sustainable at the college level because of four-year shelf lives at quarterback.

College programs don't need to worry about contract extensions for quarterbacks exposed to hits from the read option. 

"It really takes a lot of discipline on the front seven to be able to stop that stuff," Snyder said.

Rutgers began installing its dime package Wednesday, which typically featured a three-safety look, one linebacker adept in pass coverage and smaller edge rushers. It could also add a three-down linemen wrinkle soon.

Both could be options to defend the read option if Rutgers can substitute. More likely: Cohen would remain with his base 4-3 defense.

Flood meets with his coordinators in June to lay out the team's training camp installations. The first 22 practices are scripted before the team arrives, he said.

Snyder, used as a pass rusher from 2011-12 on passing downs, hasn't been required to add depth in pass coverage. Now at WILL linebacker, he says he's learned from splitting time along the strongside with Jamal Merrell.

The weakside 'backer lines up away from Y and Z receivers.

RELATED: Lorenzo Waters explains X, Y, Z positions

"You have to play in space a lot (at SAM) and that requires you to cover slot receivers and understand pass routes," Snyder said. "I understand what it entails and what it takes. It's just a little bit different on the backside. You don't have as much responsibility in the pass game (at WILL) other than dropping and looking to help."

NOTES: Savon Huggins did not practice in Wednesday's morning session. Flood said he held Huggins out to make sure he's fresh. The junior returned for the afternoon practice. "We've been pressing him in terms of number of reps through the first five practices," Flood said. ... Brandon Coleman (knee), Tyler Kroft (ankle) and Antwan Lowery (lower leg) will not participate in Saturday's first team scrimmage. Desmon Peoples (hamstring) would need to practice first. Flood expects Jeremy Deering (ankle) to play.

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