One of the best ways to learn about other programs is talking to people who cover them. That is why one of my favorite things I do with GopherHole is getting the opportunity to ask media around the country to give us their perspective about the Gophers opponents. It gives us some insight that couldn’t provide at GopherHole. As I ask reporters six questions about the teams they cover during the season, I thought I would do a similiar thing about the new Minnesota Gophers defensive coordinator. I asked a Rutgers beat reporters Chris Iseman from USA Today Network- New Jersey three questions about Corey Hetherman, who coached the linebackers at Rutgers the last two years.
Thanks to Chris for taking time to give us some insight!
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisIseman
Follow Noel on Twitter: @N0elThompson
1. Rutgers hired Corey Hetherman from James Madison University, where he was the defensive coordinator for three years. Hetherman has been the linebackers coach for the past two seasons for the Scarlet Knights. What kind of impression did Corey have on the program during his tenure there?
It was only two seasons, but Corey Hetherman really made a strong impression with Rutgers. Obviously, he goes back a long way with Joe Harasymiak, so their visions were aligned. But the linebackers frequently talked about how good of a teacher Hetherman was, and how close knit the room became under him. Greg Schiano often praised Hetherman for the job he did, too.
2. How has his influence affected the linebackers or the defense overall in his time at Rutgers?
Hetherman did a really good job of developing Rutgers’ younger linebackers, while also helping the more experienced guys maximize their abilities. Look at a player like Tyreem Powell, who has become one of the better linebackers in the Big Ten the last couple seasons. Deion Jennings stepped into a starting role last season (at a time when the LB unit had been hit hard due to injuries) and led the team with 91 tackles after having five in a reserve role in 2021. Mohamed Toure this season, after missing last season due a torn ACL, played at linebacker full-time (he had played more DE previously) and was outstanding. So Hetherman did a really nice job of turning a unit that had some question marks into a unit that was a considerable strength.
3. In your opinion, what kind of coach is Minnesota getting for their new defensive coordinator? What should Minnesota fans expect their defense to look like next year? Would you consider this a good hire?
I think Minnesota is getting a really good defensive mind, who’s a good motivator and teacher who can develop talent. At JMU, his defenses were among the best in the nation at the FCS level. Doing it at the Big Ten level is a whole other challenge, but I think the experience he already had, combined with working with Harasymiak at this level for two more seasons, will go a long way for him. He knows the Big Ten, he knows many of the offenses he’ll face, it’s all familiar for him. With all that being said, I do think this is a good hire for Minnesota.