Another year, another new offensive coordinator for Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) For the sixth time in six years, Rutgers’ offense is under the guidance of a new coordinator.
A year after coming out of retirement to serve as the offensive coordinator, Ralph Friedgen stepped down and will serve as a special assistant to coach Kyle Flood. His replacement is 35-year-old Ben McDaniels, who joined the Rutgers staff last year as the wide receivers coach.
McDaniels remained coy when asked how much of Friedgen’s offense would be in his playbook. The one certainty is that Rutgers remains in the pro-style offense, which will dictate pace of play.
”I think one of those pieces that is a part of that (pro-style offense) is playing in multiple tempos, so we absolutely intend on playing in multiple tempos,” McDaniels said Sunday at Rutgers media day. ”It benefits you. It challenges the defense to have to be ready for that. So not dissimilar to a lot of places, we’ll have multiple tempos we’ll try and play at.”
Aside from that, McDaniels spoke generally about the offense’s identity.
”We talk about being smart, we talk about playing a violent brand of football. We talk about being tough. We talk about being explosive,” McDaniels said. ”And I’m sure I fall into some of those categories of how I’m going to call a game, but I guess I don’t put much of a label of how I’m going to call it or how I characterize myself.”
While he will use Friedgen as a sounding board, his brother Josh – offensive coordinator for the NFL’s New England Patriots – also has had an influence on him as a coach. So how does he take advantage of having two of the brightest offensive minds in football at his disposal?
”Throw a bunch of thoughts and ideas on an excel sheet and go from there,” McDaniels said. ”Really, that’s the truth. You spend a lot of time in your office as you piece together who you want to be and your philosophy and your approach and those things.”
Sometime within the next week, McDaniels should know who his starting quarterback is.
With the graduation of Gary Nova, redshirt sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig are competing for the position. Laviano played in five games and completed 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards and an interception in mop-up duty, while Rettig ran the scout team as he sat out the year after transferring from LSU.
McDaniels said he’s confident in what he’s seeing from the two quarterbacks thus far.
”Really the quarterback is no different than any other position on the field. What you’re capable of doing based on what your personnel can do, both talent and mentally, dictates what you do in a lot of ways and the quarterbacks are just another piece of that,” McDaniels said. ”So what they’re able to do and what we’re able to have the most success with will drive the offense.”
McDaniels has Paul James, Desmon Peoples, Justin Goodwin, Josh Hicks and Robert Martin in the mix at running back, which could result in various ways to get the ball in their hands. But knowing how they do so will have to wait.
”You’re getting into some scheme stuff, which you’re not really going to get much from me,” McDaniels said. ”But ultimately, where we line them up – they are all running backs, but they can line up in multiple spots.”