Gause, Jacobs platoon at OLB
As the Rutgers football team gets set to host the program’s first SEC opponent Saturday against Arkansas, sophomore linebacker Quentin Gause could hardly contain his excitement.
“Playing an SEC school here in Piscataway, yeah [it’s a good feeling],” he said. “I always wanted to play an SEC school in my college career at home, so I know it’s going to be a great game. I can’t wait.”
And while Gause had less of a defined role at the beginning of the season, injuries have forced the outside linebacker into the spotlight.
Senior outside linebacker Jamal Merrell is listed as doubtful for the Scarlet Knights with a kidney injury. He was not in attendance for Saturday’s 28-10 victory against Eastern Michigan and is not expected to be available until after the Knights’ bye week.
That means a platoon of both Gause and redshirt freshman Davon Jacobs, who started the game on the left side against the Eagles.
Jacobs said though Merrell has been absent on the field, he has been present off of it to offer advice to the Patterson, N.J., native.
“Jamal helps me a lot,” Jacobs said. “He just tells me what I have to do, where I have to be and if I made a mistake he’ll let me know. He’s a big help. We miss him.”
In terms of replacing the production of Merrell, both combined for 15 tackles against the Eagles. Gause registered eight tackles for the Knights, including 1.5 for a loss. Jacobs had seven tackles and 0.5 for a loss.
It remains to be seen if Jacobs will make his second-straight start, or if Gause will receive his first career one Saturday against the Razorbacks.
But head coach Kyle Flood is impressed with Gause’s work ethic this season.
“Quentin is a great worker. He really is. Every day he is a very consistent worker,” Flood said. “High-energy level. High-effort level. I think that’s starting to show up on the field. I think that is going to continue to show up on the field. He is a guy who is a physical football player and this is the type of game — with what I think we’re going to see from their offense — that he will be excited to play in.”
Gause said another help for him has been junior outside linebacker Kevin Snyder, who played both WILL, MIKE and SAM linebacker positions in Rutgers’ last game.
That allowed both Gause and Jacobs to ease into their roles on the defense.
“It’s great [having Snyder],” Gause said. “Kevin knows all three positions so he’s a great role player.”
Rutgers will need Snyder, Gause, Jacobs and the rest of the front seven to produce against Arkansas, who feature the 11th best rushing attack in the country.
The Razorbacks feature two tailbacks that average above 100 yards per game. Freshman running back Alex Collins, the nation’s fourth-leading rusher, has 418 yards on the ground in three games this season.
It is a challenge Gause believes he and Jacobs can handle.
“They love running the ball, and we’re going to stop the run,” Gause said. “We’ve been built for this. In the wintertime and summertime we’ve been training to get to this point.”
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