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Following two decades in the NFL, Pat Flaherty didn’t change his coaching style at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The success that Pat Flaherty had as Rutgers football’s offensive line coach last year can be attributed to one simple truth: He coaches all of his players the same throughout his four decades on the sidelines.

It was a tremendous job undertaken by Flaherty last season in turning around one of the worst offensive lines in college football. Rutgers ended up finishing middle of the Big Ten in most of the significant offensive categories, representing a huge step forward in the offense’s ability to function.

And it was the play of the offensive line in protecting quarterback Gavin Wimsatt as well as paving the way for running back Kyle Monangai that doesn’t get enough attention for a season where Rutgers finished 7-6 and beat Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The improvement is noticeable, especially to those who have been embedded in the program for a while.

“I mean a lot better. A lot of guys – we have talent across the board on the o-line. Just the way we work. We work hard. Everybody’s working at things they need to work on. We’re a tight group,” senior left tackle Hollin Pierce said on Tuesday during media availability.

“We’re a tight group. I think we’re going to be a lot better.”

The impact of Flaherty on the group is clearly seen in the increased performance.

With two decades of NFL coaching experience to his resume, Flaherty has considerable clout. His two Super Bowl rings from his time with the New York Giants give him a certain cache that few college coaches have.

When Flaherty speaks to his players, some of whom are teenagers, he point to a career that includes turning offensive linemen into All Pro players. But the biggest part of his success, he says, is found in not changing things whether he is coaching at the college level or the NFL.

“I coach these guys like any group I’ve ever coached in my career, NFL college – football is football. From that standpoint, they do a great job of wanting to learn the techniques,” Flaherty said on Tuesday.

“You know, I feel that again, they will be the best group that they can by doing the training that we can.

“And you can say, ‘Well, you can train this way in the NFL, train this way in college. I don’t believe there’s a difference in training the players.”

Off the field, the group is developing in a way that is making them a more cohesive unit. As Pierce explains it, the line is now acting as one, even away from the practice field and the team facility. It is creating a level of cohesion that wasn’t present in the year prior.

“Since I started till now, the group’s completely different,” Pierce said.

“How we care about each other, everything we do with each other, we go out with each other. On the field, we’re always looking out for each other. Just the whole intentions of our goals and what want to do is completely different and just how we approach the field.”

Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire