Glaud finds stability at end
Ka’Lial Glaud thinks less these days, a natural byproduct of settling in at defensive end. Conventional wisdom says the 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior has no business along the defensive line, and initially Glaud thought so, as well.
But through 11 games this season, Glaud carved out a niche the Rutgers football team’s coaching staff sought to find his whole career.
“It just helps me be more alert for my specific job … and be able to just have my job as second nature instead of having to think about it every single time I line up,” Glaud said Sunday.
Glaud began training camp in 2011 as the Scarlet Knights’ middle linebacker, shifting classmate Steve Beauharnais outside, where Beauharnais played as a freshman.
But the experiment did not pan out.
Following a freshman season in which he earned significant time on special teams, Glaud found himself switching positions again as a junior, his career halfway over. But instead of returning to outside linebacker, the Knights’ staff sent Glaud to the trenches.
“He’s definitely improved a lot,” said senior defensive tackle Scott Vallone. “He actually embraced it this year, and I think last year he learned on the fly and he had a whole offseason to really learn it.”
The results have been mixed.
Glaud is tied for a team high among defensive linemen with three sacks, but he has not recorded one since Oct. 13 against Syracuse. Without a premier pass rusher, Glaud has seen more attention from opposing offensive lines.
He has been one of the Knights’ more active defensive linemen with 2.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
But Rutgers’ undersized front has fallen prey in the last two games to misdirections. Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham rushed for 113 yards against Rutgers, most of which came on bursts to the outside. Brendon Kay ran Cincinnati’s read-option two weeks ago for considerable gains.
“I think there’s room for improvement,” Glaud said. “Between this week and last week, I think you’ll see a different type of intensity than we’ve been playing with so far.”
Glaud prides himself on violent collisions, which defensive line coach Jim Panagos preaches.
Glaud credits his work with Panagos, who held the same title last year at Central Florida, with his development.
“We’re a high-emotion group, and I think he’s definitely just built into that mentality,” Vallone said of Panagos.
Head coach Kyle Flood does not anticipate planning for two quarterbacks this week since Louisville runs similar sets for sophomore Teddy Bridgewater, a Big East Player of the Year candidate, and senior backup Will Stein.
Bridgewater suffered a fractured left wrist — his non-throwing arm — and a sprained ankle Saturday against Connecticut.
“If he gets hit, there’s going to be a significant amount of pain,” Flood said if it were his quarterback. “If it’s a bone injury, you can’t numb bone. That’s the reality of it.”
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said Monday that Bridgewater will play. But Bridgewater’s effectiveness — he has thrown for 3,189 yards and 23 touchdowns this season — remains unknown.
“I’ve got a feeling that when Teddy Bridgewater gets here,” Flood said, “he’ll be excited to play a football game he’ll be able to do everything he needs to do to try to help them be where they want to be.”
Flood expects sophomore guard Taj Alexander to play the entire game Thursday after suffering an injury Saturday at Pitt.
“You never can predict how they’re going to react because it’s really just one hit the wrong way away from getting kind of twisted up a little bit,” Flood said yesterday.
Junior right guard Andre Civil, the Knights’ usual starter, did not practice yesterday after leaving Saturday’s game with a lower body injury. With Civil and Alexander both out, Flood inserted senior Devon Watkis at Pittsburgh for the rest of the game.
But Flood expressed confidence after watching Alexander practice that Alexander will be fully available against Louisville.
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Tyler Barto on Twitter @TBartoTargum.