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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa says he's satisfied with numbers

(For The Trentonian — John Blaine) 
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — The top of Rutgers' defensive stat sheet reads like you'd expect, with usual suspect Steve Longa leading the team in tackles.

But Rutgers' freshman All-America in 2013 is on pace to finish with two-thirds of his 123-tackle total from a year ago and has only 2.5 tackles for loss (two are sacks) midway through the season.

The former is to be expected — a spring-practice move from middle linebacker to WILL figures to result in less chances to stockpile tackle numbers. But transferring to Rutgers' patented play-making position hasn't yet produced the same impact.

"I'm very satisfied," Longa said Tuesday of his production. "I'm doing my job, I'm helping the team. We're 5-1 right now."

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Head coach Kyle Flood said a few weeks ago he will judge Longa's body of work in the offseason. He did not want to offer a midseason evaluation.

"What I want Steve to do is week to week, I want him to get better," Flood said. "I think he's working hard to do that. I think he's been a productive player in our defense. ... We're not going to make any changes now or in the bye week. But I'm pleased with how he's working and I'm pleased with his production."

Longa will likely get several chances in open field Saturday against No. 13 Ohio State's space-driven offense. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, he is the archetype of Rutgers' ideal hybrid player.

"He's a running quarterback," Longa said of Ohio State redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. "We have to defend the running backs plus him. That's a little bit of a challenge, but nothing crazy — nothing we should be worried about."

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