Kickoff Primer: The Spring Game

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The wait is over. Rutgers fans finally get to see their new head coach in action tomorrow afternoon when Kyle Flood leads the Scarlet Knights in the spring game. ScarletReport.com has been at virtually every practice and presents you with the need-to-know information and the smartest way to take in the day's events.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- For the only time this year, the final score of tomorrow's Rutgers football game is absolutely meaningless. For fans that simply want to sit back and enjoy, tomorrow is a great opportunity.

But for those looking to get as much information as possible out of the spring game, ScarletReport.com presents a guide on what to watch.

The Quarterbacks

When watching junior Chas Dodd and sophomore Gary Nova work with the first-team offense, statistics do not always tell the most accurate tale. Pay attention to the kinds of throws each quarterback is asked to make. A 60 percent completion clip is much more impressive when the quarterback is not checking off on short routes and bubble screens.

Keep an eye on Dodd's pocket presence and ability to make all the throws. A successful spring game for Dodd means completions to multiple areas of the field and getting rid of the ball quickly enough to avoid sacks.

For Nova, the goal is obvious.

"No turnovers, no turnovers," Nova said. "I've worked on it all spring. I have to take care of the football."

Some turnovers can be lived with, but Nova needs to cut down on stupid mistakes and trying to do too much to keep a play alive.

Other Position Battles

Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins are locks for major reps at running back this season, but the real question is which players go behind them. Redshirt freshman Paul James has yet to break out as a tailback, but continues to receive rave reviews from his teammates and coaches.

The interior offensive linemen remain unsettled and there are plenty of reps to be won on the defensive line.

Position Groupings

The first-team players out on the initial plays from scrimmage are the ones you can expect to see big roles on the post-spring depth chart. Pay attention to which four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs are out for the first play defensively. Pay attention to which quarterback sees more reps with the first-team offensive line. Wide receivers and running backs will rotate with different teams and expect multiple offensive line groupings with the spree of injuries.

Injuries

One of the top goals for every coach is to leave the spring relatively healthy. Here is the list of players out or not expected to play in the spring game because of injury — LT Kaleb Johnson (shoulder), G Betim Bujari (ankle), G/C Matt McBride (elbow), G Frank Quartucci, TE D.C. Jefferson (leg), TE Malcolm Bush (knee), DT Scott Vallone (shoulder), DT Kenneth Kirksey (leg), OLB Khaseem Greene (leg).

Seven expected first-teamers are out with injuries, which provides fans the chance to see how inexperienced players like Dallas Hendrikson, Quentin Gause and Tyler Kroft fare in big spots.

Rising Stars

Coach Kyle Flood named wide receiver Miles Shuler and defensive end Max Issaka as greatly improved second-year players this spring. He said neither is ready for game action yet, but tomorrow is a chance for fans to see what the coaches have seen.

For Shuler, watch his ability to get off the line of scrimmage and keep his hands on the football. When watching Issaka, keep tabs on how he fares against top healthy tackles like R.J. Dill and Andre Civil.

Coaching

Flood will be all over High Point Solutions Stadium tomorrow doing everything from recruiting to overseeing the game operations. The new assistants have been given the opportunity to run the show at their respective positions all spring and tomorrow will be no different. Watch how the coaches interact with players after big plays or after big mistakes.


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