Gareef Glashen helps spearhead Rutgers football's improved pass defense
PISCATAWAY — Gareef Glashen remembers it mostly for fans storming the field afterward, but his performance Oct. 4 against Michigan's Devin Funchess went a long way toward the end result.
Funchess, who recently declared for the NFL draft, was held to five receptions for 71 yards, a platform that saw Rutgers' secondary numbers improve across the board from a dismal 2013 season.
"It's always important," Glashen said, "because when you have top receivers like that, once they get their game going and they start feeling good out there and making plays, it's hard to get them off track."
Glashen proved arguably Rutgers' most improved player this season, accounting for a team-high nine pass breakups, the most for a corner since Logan Ryan's 17 in 2012.
Rutgers finished with a pass-efficiency defense rating of 134.09 (89th nationally), a drastic improvement from last year's bottom-five ending and program-worst 4,056 pass yards allowed.
"Just playing good defense period is always good for the confidence," Glashen said. "I'm a confident guy. If something doesn't go right, I stay positive about it and look forward to the next play and making the next play."
While pass figures vary in each conference, leading to inflated or deflated numbers, Rutgers' stable supporting cast was a positive in 2014.
Glashen started every game this season. That's twice as many starts as any Rutgers corner a year ago, when 11 players earned the distinction at least once in the secondary.
"Last year was kind of rough, but I'm confident in myself," Glashen said. "I don't want to say you have seasons like that, but it was what it was. You can't go back on it."
Despite the all-around improvement, head coach Kyle Flood won't be making any grand proclamations on the secondary until he evaluates it in the offseason.
"Right now our focus is really on trying to make improvements week to week," Flood said. "We've looked at it a little bit from a seasonal standpoint, but not the way we will at the end of the season. I'll hold off until the end of the season."