April 3, 2013

Longa lining up at the MIKE





Tuesday morning's practice in Piscataway marked a new time for Rutgers redshirt freshman linebacker Steve Longa. It was his first day lining up at a new position as he began taking reps at middle linebacker.

"I got my position change to the MIKE [middle linebacker] and the coaches saw something in me and decided to make the switch," Longa said after Tuesday's practice. "I guess that's the best thing for the team. Coach asked me what I thought about the move and I said I am a football player, so wherever he wants me I'll give him 100 percent of what I got."

Throughout all of last season, Longa was working out as the weakside linebacker [WILL].

"When I was playing the WILL, I knew a little bit of what the rush was doing, I knew a little bit of what the MIKE was doing," Longa said. So I just need to be on the field and feel comfortable with the whole system."

And how did Longa fare on day one at the middle linebacker position?

"It came easy. As I was on the field, it came a lot easier," he said. "We just have to go back out there on Thursday and see how I compete again."

Longa also stated the speed of the game did not change much for him at the new position.

"It came a little faster than I thought. I had to look over the MIKE notes last night before I went to sleep. I looked them over this morning again but overall I thought I did all right."

More responsibility comes with playing the MIKE and Longa explained how handled that on his first day there.

"What I do is when I get the play in, I think about my assignment and see the formation and see who I got. That helps me move a lot faster."

Last year, Steve Beauharnais started every game at middle linebacker and also did so during the prior the two seasons. Now, Longa doesn't have a returning starter to turn to for advice.

However, he has sought the counsel of junior linebacker Kevin Snyder.

"Snyder is the man who knows all the positions," Longa said. "We're going to meet up again tonight and he's going to help me go over all the stuff that I have to do with all the coverages and stuff."

Head coach Kyle Flood has reiterated that he will start the team's top three linebackers, which could force Snyder to play either the MIKE or the WILL. But if Tuesday's practice is any indication, there's a chance that Longa could be the new man in the middle.

"If you come in the middle, I'm going to smack you," Longa said. "I just have to keep working hard."


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