by Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (July 31, 2014) – From a physical standpoint, Kevin Snyder’s move from weak side linebacker, where he started all 13 games last season, to middle linebacker hasn’t posed a problem. At 6-3, 240 pounds, the senior fits well into his new role.
The real adjustment, he acknowledged, has been mental.
“Being at mike linebacker in the middle of the defense you get to call defenses and kind of direct traffic a little bit,” Snyder said as the Scarlet Knights reported back to the Hale Center today, with pre-season camp starting Friday.” Obviously, as a senior, you’re trying to bring young guys up -- bring them up, make them play at a higher level if you can, making them understand how to prepare and how to play.
“But I learned I’ve got to be more vocal in order to get a point across. You have to realize you have to be the bad guy sometimes. You don’t always have to be nice to everybody. You’ve got to be the bad guy. But you’ve got to have respect for it. I think that’s the No. 1 thing I learned.”
The switch at linebacker makes sense for a lot of reasons, with Snyder’s size suited for the middle and Steve Longa’s athleticism and speed better utilized at the weak side spot. Longa started in the middle last year.
So far, Snyder likes everything he has seen about linebacker changes.
“I feel more comfortable in there and I feel like it allows me to play more downhill in the middle and it allows Steve to be more of an athlete and run,” he said. “And I think Quentin Gause at (the strong side) is doing a great job. So I think the transition for the whole linebacker crew has been really good.”
***Head coach Kyle Flood said reporting day went as expected, with no surprises from a personnel standpoint. He did say, however, that “we are waiting on a little bit of paperwork in the (NCAA) Clearinghouse.”
What he is most impressed by with this team is its conditioning.
“I’m really excited about the conditioning and the shape of the team,” he said. “I think the team looked really good over the summer. It was great to be able to watch some of it. That was nice. That new rule was really helpful for us to get to know this football team.”
***After doing some research, Flood has changed the practice schedule for the summer.
“We’re going to practice a little earlier in the day,” he said. “Our practices are going to begin around 12:45. I won’t disclose the sources but we spoke to a lot of people, both in college and the NFL. The topic of sports performance is studied now more than it has ever been studied in the history of sports. We feel this schedule allows us to maximize our time.
“We’re doing a little bit of a different structure building up to the practice. Our players will work with our strength staff every day. Some of those days will be lifting. Some of those days will be other things. And then we’ll have meetings leading up to practice. Our walkthroughs will be built into evenings.”
***Rutgers players insist they’re not bothered by the less-than-flattering expectations by various media outlets for the school’s first season in the rugged East Division of the Big Ten.
“We don’t listen to it,” quarterback Gary Nova said. “Everybody wants to pick on the new kid, just like in school. We don’t expect to have too much respect. We can’t worry about that. We have to worry about ourselves and be the best we can for Washington State.”
Defensive lineman David Milewski said he simply doesn’t pay attention to the opinions of outsiders when it comes to season predictions.
“Honestly, I don’t keep my head too much into that stuff. I really don’t,” he said. “I’m not on any of the blogs, I don’t read any of that stuff. To me, nobody knows the inner workings or our team. Everybody looks (at Rutgers) from the outside. The way I look at it I feel very comfortable in every single spot, from offensive line to defensive backs. Everywhere across the board I feel pretty comfortable with.”
Snyder, who hails from Mechanicsburg, Pa., has it worse than some of his teammates because he is in the heart of Penn State country and has to hear about the Nittany Lions more than he would prefer. Penn State visits High Point Solutions Stadium on Sept. 13 in Rutgers’ first Big Ten conference game.
“I know that we can hang with all of these teams so I don’t worry about that. I just tell them we’ll play anybody, it doesn’t matter where,” Snyder said. “And I say don’t be surprised when we beat people. That’s all I say. No guarantees or anything but don’t be surprised, because I think we’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve got a good enough team and coaching staff to win games.”