Inside Rutgers' down sack numbers from defensive ends
By Tyler Barto
I published a story for Wednesday's Trentonian on Rutgers' declining sack numbers from defensive ends, but here's more that didn't make it to print:
Head coach Kyle Flood said the main reason for relatively low sacks from the edge — 8.5 of the team's 22 total — is the Scarlet Knights' scheme, namely their 30 package, named for its three down linemen.
Defensive coordinator Dave Cohen has adopted a lot of the same principles held by former play callers Greg Schiano and Robb Smith, but he's used a three-man front on obvious passing downs far more often.
The result: fewer opportunities for ends (only one end is involved in the 30 package) and more chances for blitzing edge rushers from the second level.
"I think the d-line does a lot of the dirty work that we don’t get praised for. That’s fine," defensive tackle Darius Hamilton said Monday. "As long as the team wins, that’s the only thing I care about.”
Under Smith, Rutgers typically used a 4-1-6 formation on pass downs, with six defensive backs; Khaseem Greene, a former safety, at linebacker; and linebacker Steve Beauharnais as an edge rusher in a two-point stance.
Rutgers' third-down conversion numbers are nearly identical — 37 percent in 2012, 36 percent this season — but its personnel has fluctuated noticeably.
"A lot of what we do on third down," Flood said, "is with three defensive linemen, trying to get to the quarterback with blitzes and linebackers and safeties and corners."
Editor's note: I excluded Jamil Merrell's 5.5-sack 2012 season below because he played primarily three-technique defensive tackle before returning to end this year.