With five defensive starters out or limited Saturday, extra responsibilities fall upon the three starting linebackers ready to go for Rutgers.
The offense seized the day in the Scarlet Knights’ first scrimmage, and it is time for the defense to bite back said senior linebacker Quentin Gause.
“Our mission is to kick their butt every down,” Gause said. “I feel like as a core group on our defense, [the goal] is for us to get better and continue to be a dominant force.”
Gause, Steve Longa and Isaiah Johnson can all expect major roles with the limited linebackers available. Longa, who earned freshman All-American honors at middle linebacker, is open to more time at his former position should the need arise.
“I’m out there doing it already,” said Longa, who moved to weakside linebacker last season. “… I’m very comfortable switching back and forth. … I have a lot more knowledge about the whole game plan and the way our defense works. I just became a better Mike linebacker just by listening and being a better student of the game.”
Gause remains at home on the strongside after three years of position changes to start his Rutgers career. He jumped from reserve to starter last season, and wants a stronger season as a senior.
“Of course I’m looking to improve every day,” Gause said. “Attack the weight room. Attack every play. I’m focused on the task at hand and just trusting the coaches to get me ready to go. I love playing football, so you just have to go out there and have fun. Let it be natural.”
Johnson is the new guy at linebacker after he transferred in from junior college. He made the play of the day defensively with an 80-yard interception return in the first scrimmage.
“Isaiah’s doing great,” Gause said. “Me, him and [linebackers coach Bob] Fraser meet sometimes and Longa. As a linebacker group, we all are working our butts off every day. I love Isaiah’s work ethic, and he’s definitely doing well. We’ll see what happens in training camp.”