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Friday, August 16, 2013

Rutgers' final decision on personnel nears for Johnathan Aiken, others

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Several players agree: Saturday night's scrimmage at High Point Solutions Stadium will be the final opportunity before coaches put near-finishing touches on the depth chart and formation personnel.

Players vying for defensive sub-packages have the most to gain. Rutgers' dime and '30' (three-man front) packages have already been installed, along with its goal line formation, according to some players.
Kyle Flood will meet with his staff after Saturday's
final team scrimmage. (Tyler Barto)

The dime, which in the past featured three safeties, three corners and a pass-leaning linebacker, could offer the biggest final push.

"After the first scrimmage, they pretty much told us, the ones — 'Zo (Lorenzo Waters) and JD (Jeremy Deering) — and the twos ... it's going to be us versus them," safety Tejay Johnson said Tuesday. "We're fighting for position."

Johnson said safety Johnathan Aiken figures to already have a role in place in Rutgers' '30' package. Aiken said he's worked as a pseudo-linebacker in both the '30' and dime, with pass coverage and blitzing responsibilities. 

The junior has not played significant defensive snaps during the regular season to date.

RELATED: Quanzell Lambert could be involved in '30', third-down packages

"The dime is like a WILL linebacker in base package," Aiken said. "I'm pretty much lined up (like) a faster WILL. I cover receivers instead of the MIKE having to run out. We just switch me like an extra safety in there."

Aiken, at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, will usually play man-to-man since it gives Rutgers an advantage in removing a linebacker. He's also been asked to blitz extensively for the first time in his career.

RELATED: Jamal Merrell could see more pass-rush looks on third down

Despite his frame, he's eager to prove his worth as a pass rusher.

"When the linemen can't block you, I laugh and try to make them better," Aiken said. "I don't mind it, but when they do block me they hit me up, and I'm so little I can't get away from them. It's fun to me. I like getting in there and scruffing with the big guys."


As part of an ongoing series, The Trentonian will take an in-depth look into certain concepts with Rutgers' schemes and explain them through the eyes of the players.

Part 3 delves into the differences in alignment between a free safety (more coverage responsibilities) and a strong safety.

Johnson on Rutgers' philosophy:
"It depends on coverages. It depends if he's playing solo, I'm playing cloud (cover 2 scheme). I'm at 12, he'll be at 10 o'clock. But most of the time we're almost split aligned, both at 12 yards. Sometimes I like to get more depth and be like 14 or 15 because (I) have to stay over top of my opponents. Our receivers are kind of fast. Most of the time we're head to head at the same alignment."
Part 1     Part 2

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