Storyline Central: In Dodd's Hands

Rutgers is three weeks and change away from reporting for training camp 2011 and ScarletReport.com wants you to be prepared to kick off a new season in college football. Today, we introduce our camp previews, looking at the burning questions, position battles and storylines for the Scarlet Knights going into camp. First, ScarletReport.com looks at a tough question, can Chas Dodd do it alone?

Rising sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd went through his first spring as "the guy" without any setback. Dodd was confident and comfortable as the leader of the Rutgers offense and put on a consistent spring.

But then again, the same can be said about Tom Savage in 2010.

Savage went through a decent spring and training camp without competition and appeared ready to lead Rutgers last season. But a combination of minor injuries, Dodd's prowess off the bench and an abysmal game against Florida International landed the former golden boy on the bench, and then Arizona.

Obviously, there are many differences between Dodd and Savage. Those differences bode in Dodd's favor for his upcoming season despite similar circumstances to Savage.

Dodd enrolled at Rutgers as a quarterback with loads of high school experience. On the same squad as Marcus Lattimore, Dodd led Byrnes High School (Lyman, S.C.) as one of the top programs in the country. Despite his high school prowess, Dodd had just one Division I offer and two-star rating.

Savage, however, had offers across the board despite not doing much of anything with Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.). Savage got to where he was based on combine performance, not on-field, where injuries nagged him.

The changes around Dodd to start training camp are also points in his favor. A change in scheme with the addition of Frank Cignetti and subtraction of Kirk Ciarrocca, the elimination of the Wildcat and an improved offense line — could it be any worse? — all make things easier for Dodd as a sophomore.

In last season's flawed scheme, Dodd threw for 1,637 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was Big East Offensive Player of the Week against Connecticut in just his first start and turned Mark Harrison from just another receiver to one of the most dangerous in the conference.

Though Dodd put up good numbers as a true freshman, he went just 2-6 as a starter. For Dodd to avoid the same sophomore slump Savage succumbed to, a few things need to happen that are out of his control.

1.) Cignetti, the offensive coordinator, must do a better job than his predecessor at protecting the quarterback. That means keeping Dodd in a better rhythm, more play-action, more bootleg and more short-pass patterns.

2.) The offensive line must improve. Yes, this is obvious. But Dodd can't take another beating like he did last year.

3.) Either Gary Nova or Mike Bimonte has to have a great camp. A good quarterback has good competition to push him and a solid backup. Ryan Hart had Mike Teel. Teel had Jabu Lovelace. Savage even had Dom Natale and Lovelace when he was a true freshman.

Dodd needs either Nova or Bimonte to push him to be the man and step in when needed.

Scarlet Report Top Stories