Rutgers' Quentin Gause begins to earn dynamic role at linebacker
|(AP file photo)|
Rutgers' nickel coverage usually means SAM linebacker Quentin Gause is the odd man out. But against Penn State's pro-style offense — or as close as there is to one anymore in the spread age — Gause played his most meaningful role yet.
As an edge rusher and perimeter defender, Gause recorded eight tackles, half a sack and a quarterback hurry.
He also added a roughing-the-passer penalty.
But he surprised when Rutgers remained in its base defense against three-receiver sets, flexing out into the slot as a pass defender.
"Not only is he strong enough to make the plays on the line of scrimmage whether playing against a tight end or tackle," head coach Kyle Flood said, "but he's athletic and runs well to make some plays in space, and I think that's why he continues to show up."
Gause among Rutgers' top potential breakout players in 2014
Gause, a top run defender by trade, had to become more comfortable in space against the pass. He made it a top priority in the offseason.
"I continue to work on them every day," Gause said. "That's something some people have struggled with in the past, too. That's what I did in the offseason, I definitely worked on it. You can definitely see in the games it's improved."
His acceleration becomes even more critical as Kevin Snyder (lower body) is questionable for Saturday at Navy. If Snyder sits, Gause could move inside as safeties Davon Jacobs and Delon Stephenson see larger roles as run defenders.
"That's what they put me in that position to do," Gause said. "I just do it to the best of my ability."