Rutgers defensive line turnover a net positive for Scarlet Knights

Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

2019 was a disaster for Rutgers, especially at the defensive point of attack. Three new transfers will change the D-line dynamic.

Rutgers football fans are hard-pressed to find more than a few good things about the 2019 season. One area that was particularly worrisome was the Scarlet Knights defensive line play. They didn’t have much of an impact on opposing offenses. There isn’t one statistic that can be pointed to where the unit did well, as a matter of fact, they were awful.

Against the run, Rutgers was dead last in the Big Ten and the only team in the conference that gave up over 200 yards per game (201.1). Their pass defense wasn’t much better. They allowed 232.5 yards per game which placed them 11th. Maybe the three most alarming stats where the Scarlet Knights finished last illustrate the point best. They gave up 440 points, 6.5 yards per play, and had only 18 sacks all season. The D-line was in effect roadkill for opposing offensive lineman.

No member of the team had more than three sacks. There will be changes in 2020. Gone are backup lineman Malachi Burby, who transferred to Rhode Island, defensive tackle Willington Previlon graduated, and defensive end Elorm Lumor declared for the NFL. The latter thought it was a good idea to leave early. His 7.0 sacks over two seasons might get him a third-day selection. Some new players have transferred in that could have an impact.

Malik Barrow came in from Central Florida. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano recruited the defensive tackle to Ohio State when Schiano was the defensive coordinator there. Due to injuries, Barrows never saw the field at OSU then played only one game at UCF. He was a four-star recruit out of high school so if the DT is finally healthy he can provide solid depth.

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Sophmore Ireland Burke transferred from Boston College. A former three-star recruit, Burke was the second-ranked high school defensive tackle coming out of Pope John XXIII High School in 2018. Burke saw limited action as a freshman and decided to transfer from BC after some coaching changes. He has ideal size at 6-3, 310-pounds and can be the run-stuffer Rutgers needs.

The final piece came in the past week when former Michigan defensive lineman Michael Dwumfour came to Rutgers as a graduate transfer. A key backup for Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines the past two seasons, Dwumfour comes home to New Jersey for his final season. His versatility to play tackle or end gives Scarlet Knights Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith more options in his rotation.

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It’s a new day for the Scarlet Knights as they try to win the battle of the trenches.