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Thursday, October 31, 2013

In-depth look at Rutgers' David Milewski's new role at defensive tackle

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Despite watching over a defense that allowed 211 rushing yards last week against Houston, head coach Kyle Flood delivered lofty praise Wednesday for junior defensive end David Milewski.

"The ability to play all four (defensive line positions) is unique, but if anybody can do it David can," Flood said inside the team's media center. "He’s proven already that he deserves the opportunity."

Because of injury, Milewski has had to. The Scarlet Knights are down to only three full-time defensive tackles, and Rutgers has asked Milewski, a former linebacker, to play extensive snaps inside.

The 250-pound Milewski had mostly three-technique — lining up on the outside shoulder of a guard — but played his first ever snaps at nose tackle against Houston.

Here's a look at his varied role (with varied results): 

(Courtesy of
On Rutgers' first defensive series, Milewski appears first at end in the team's 30 package, named for its three down linemen.
It's designed with pass-heavy personnel to defend against third-and-long situations.
It has produced inconsistent results this season. Houston picks up a first down.

(Courtesy of
On the very next play, Milewski moves inside to nose guard, often asked to take on two blocks. 
Because Milewski weighs 50 pounds less than interior offensive linemen, Rutgers schemes to slant and angle its defensive line to compensate.
It led to several big plays against Houston.

(Courtesy of

For example, on this play later on Houston's first possession, Rutgers slants its defensive line toward the near sideline. A Houston interior lineman lets Milewski take his momentum out of the play, leaving a clear cutback lane.

"Yes, I think I can, especially at the three-technique because we do a lot of movements," Milewski said, when asked if he can sustain playing inside. "We're not a traditional, straight-gap defense. Me being a little bit lighter I think plays to my advantage versus being a disadvantage in terms of longevity."
(Courtesy of

Houston backup quarterback Greg Ward Jr. makes his first appearance in the second quarter in a run-based system.
Rutgers' d-line stunts outside rush, leaving the center without a blocking assingment.
Ward Jr. rushes to Rutgers' 45-yard line through the "A" gap.

Another angle: 
(Courtesy of
While Ward Jr. brought a different dynamic as a rusher than Rutgers has faced this season, its personnel issues up front remain. 

The Scarlet Knights have typically favored smaller, quicker defensive linemen, especially in the interior, but asking Milewski to play as much inside could be problematic. 

He has been Rutgers' most versatile lineman to date and offers valuable flexibility, but too many large doses could compromise its run defense. A triceps injury to top reserve Kenneth Kirksey has proven a big loss.

"I'm a type of guy that can play all the positions, so when they need me they call my number," Milewski said. "Kenny's going to come back for us in the spring time. He's going to supply that depth again. Either way, I have to go where I fit."

MORE: Splitting reps could be in Gary Nova's, Chas Dodd's futures

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