By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – When D.C. Jefferson was switched from quarterback to tight end midway through training camp in 2009, he had to flip the switch. Down in the trenches, he needed to become more aggressive. And as quickly as the position change came, so to was the lighting of that fuse.
Since then, Jefferson has transformed one of the elite blocking tight ends in the country, and his aggressiveness has is being seen now more than ever. The downside is that mentality has led to some penalties. The 6-foot-6 235 pounder has four of Rutgers 31 penalties.
While Jefferson knows that his team needs to cut down on the penalties heading into the Arkansas game considering they’re ranked 117th in the country, they also can’t lose their edge.
“I think they’re more aggressive penalties than anything,” Jefferson said.
And they are. Two of his four penalties are hands to the face. The other two are holding.
“I saw that’s something that we need to have around here,” Jefferson said. “Some more aggression in your o-line and tight ends to give us the running game that we have and our o-line is doing great. Everyone’s physical so I wouldn’t mind an accidental hands to the face here and there as long as it’s doing it to protect your quarterback.”
Which Jefferson and the offensive line has done a very good job at. They haven’t allowed a sack through three games.
It’s also begun to set the tone for the entire offense. A hardnosed bunch that plays through the whistle.
“It’s nothing that you want to shy away from – the aggressive point of playing football,” Jefferson said. “But I mean, I’m amped up in the game and I happen to hands up to high, hands in the face and stuff, but it’s not something that coach tells us not to do.”
In fact, it’s the few penalties that head coach Kyle Flood is willing to live with.
“Aggressive penalties — there’s always going to be some if you have an aggressive team. D.C.’s an aggressive player, so that happens,” Flood said. “They are some of the one’s [I’m ok with]? Yes. And there are other penalties where we have to be more precise with where we put our hands on defenders. Those are the one’s we’re working on everyday.”
All while being aggressive and keeping their edge. Even if it does draw a couple yellow hankies.
“It’s [penalties] not the right thing, but the aggression from the tight ends the o-line is something that’s showing right now,” Jefferson said. “We have a great running game, we protect the quarterback, no sacks in the last three games so we take pride in that.”