Gause shows potential in starting role
Quentin Gause thought he provided the spark the Rutgers football team needed Saturday when he returned an Arkansas fumble for a touchdown.
The sophomore outside linebacker raced into the end zone, bringing the Scarlet Knights within 10 points. But after a Razorback challenge, the play was negated, leaving Gause in disbelief.
But he did not let the fact his first-career touchdown was taken away bother him.
“I thought it was a touchdown. I saw it on the big screen and I thought it was,” Gause said. “But, I just had to get ready for the next play. We had to go back on the field and get ready for the next play. That’s all you can do.”
Gause was one of the Knights defenders who was instrumental in their 17-point comeback, as the Rochester, N.Y., native regularly got involved.
One of those plays involved senior cornerback Lew Toler, who forced the called-back fumble Gause returned to the house.
Toler believed the team effort on defense throughout the game was reflected in that play.
“We put in all that work throughout the week,” Toler said. “So when you come out with that victory in that type of game in that kind of situation, it feels great.”
Gause’s effort showed up in the stat sheet, as he finished with seven tackles, including three for a loss.
Gause also registered a tackle for loss Sept. 14 against Eastern Michigan, and his play against the Eagles gave him confidence against the Razorbacks.
“I know last week I had a tackle for loss too, but it’s just going out there and playing football,” Gause said. “I’ve been playing since I was eight years old. You just have to have fun and play the game.”
On a crucial third-and-2 play for Arkansas’ offense Saturday, quarterback AJ Derby dumped a pass to fullback Kiero Small on the right side of the field.
Met with Small one-on-one in the open field, Gause wrapped him up and forced him out of bounds. Arkansas punted and the Knights drove down on the next series for a touchdown.
Head coach Kyle Flood was impressed with Gause, who replaced redshirt freshman outside linebacker Davon Jacobs in Rutgers’ starting lineup. Jacobs started against Eastern Michigan.
“I thought this would be a game Quentin would really enjoy,” Flood said. “Quentin is a physical football player. Arkansas is a physical football team. We knew we were going to be tested in ways that we had not been tested in the first few games physically, and I knew Quentin was looking forward to that.”
While Gause displayed his athleticism against Arkansas, it remains to be seen if his talents will be used in a starting role as the season progresses.
Flood said last week senior linebacker Jamal Merrell, who Gause filled in for, should be available when the Knights play Oct. 5 against Southern Methodist. Merrell has been sidelined since Rutgers’ victory against Norfolk State with a kidney injury.
Gause said his performance Saturday can only help him find more of a role on the defense.
It also does not hurt his comfort level.
“Getting more experience on the field just helps slow down the game more,” Gause said. “So [Saturday] definitely helped that and I’m just getting more comfortable playing on the field.”
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