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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rutgers' Dave Cohen could use Lorenzo Waters in balancing act

By Tyler Barto 
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Dave Cohen, the new man pulling the strings behind Rutgers' defense, takes his first test Thursday night.

For all the talk of a new-look defensive unit, the team's playcaller insists it will remain a multiple 4-3 system. He learned it during visits to Piscataway as an assistant at Delaware and Hofstra, and he spent a day in a half in Tampa evaluating it with Greg Schiano and Robb Smith, the two previous heirs to Rutgers' defense.

Still, Cohen admits he will have to work around a secondary dissected ad nauseum. 
Dave Cohen is Rutgers' second defensive voice in as
many seasons. (Tyler Barto/ file photo)

"You can't be predictable," Cohen said at the team's Aug. 10 media day. "You have to be smart and self-scout yourself. In situations where you'd normally blitz, you put a curveball in and maybe you maximum drop and get extra coverage people. At that point, you can keep people on their heels."

SEASON PREVIEW: Dave Cohen inherits most high-profile role

That's where Lorenzo Waters comes in.

The junior strong safety is arguably Cohen's most versatile piece. He led Rutgers defensive backs in 2012 with 6.5 tackles for loss. Adding an eighth defender in the box led to a 2.75 yard-per-carry average for opponents, tied for fourth nationally.

"That's one of the things we like to do to stop the run," Waters said Monday. "Once you stop the run, then you can generate a good pass rush on the quarterback and get after him."

Cohen will have to balance Waters' presence in the box with dummying him into coverage, among other disguises. Waters struggled early last season against the pass, but Cohen will count on him to provide different looks.

"My role's not one-dimensional," Waters said.

MORE: Gary Nova takes more reserved role entering season

When he approaches the line of scrimmage, Waters said his position is dependent upon how Rutgers sets up its defensive front. For example, a defensive line shift could affect where Waters lines up compared to traditional gap responsibilities. 

Against Fresno State, he will first check the coverage with the secondary, then make adjustments based on redshirt freshman Steve Longa's calls. Junior Kevin Snyder could alternate relaying signals from Longa.

That will determine if Waters enters the box, which he figures to do frequently. 

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