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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rutgers' plan minimizes stress on linebacker Steve Longa

Rutgers' defense hasn't relied solely on redshirt freshman Steve Longa to identify personnel and make defensive calls. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto
tbarto@trentonian.com

Defensive coordinator Dave Cohen cautioned against lofty comparisons for Steve Longa during the team's Aug. 10 media day, saying, "He's not going to be Steve Beauharnais his first game. That was a work of art for four years."

In relaying calls, Longa hasn't had to.

Rutgers' redshirt freshman middle linebacker insists identifying personnel and reacting is a defensive responsibility, not only his own. A popular narrative says otherwise.

"It made me a lot more comfortable," Longa said Monday. "I'm not just worrying about calls and everything. I can make the call and I know everybody else is going to echo it, which gives me a lot of time to think about my assignment."

["He's not going to be Steve Beauharnais his first game. That was a work of art for four years." — Dave Cohen]

Safety Lorenzo Waters says Longa is recognizing personnel faster, setting up defensive fronts. Cohen's elimination of terminology has helped.

MORE: Kaleb Johnson says' Rutgers run game has come far from 2011

"We used to have certain terminology for almost each different formation," Waters said. "Now we kind of maybe use one term for several formations. Now it's a lot easier. Now we see a formation, it can still mean the same thing for each one versus us making a different call for each different set we see."

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