A. Junior Chas Dodd has come the closest to reaching his potential. Not fitting the traditional quarterback build, it has been a fight for Dodd since his enrollment to prove the doubters wrong and he has put up some big games along the way. There are vision and mobility limitations because of his size, but Dodd likely has the strongest understanding of what it takes to be a college quarterback right now. To take the next step, he must improve his pocket presence and awareness. He has the arm already.
Sophomore Gary Nova is next on the list. He showed a polish in his game this spring that was not there as a true freshman. He has the physical tools and his swashbuckler mentality led to plenty of positive plays. But one simply cannot be a successful quarterback with turnover issues like his.
Redshirt freshman Mike Bimonte is still raw, but was not brought in to be an instant impact player. Greatly improved during his first year, another season or two under a proper quarterbacks coach like Rob Spence puts Bimonte in a spot to compete for playing time.
Q. Ditto the wide outs.
A. With the amount of wideouts on the roster, forgive me for just talking about the first four here. I only have so many characters with spaces with which to work.
Let's start at the top with Senior Mark Harrison. Harrison is about as developed as he can be on the Banks with consistency and confidence being the only things standing between him and a 1,200-yard, 10-touchdown senior season. There is an even ground between his junior and year and the Cincinnati game his sophomore year (240 yards, four touchdowns). He and offensive coordinator Dave Brock just need to find it.
When I say sophomore Brandon Coleman isn't close to reaching his potential, even after the end of last season, understand how big-time he could be. Coleman's hands need refinement, as does his route-running. Speed in the 4.4 range at 6-foot-6 is a rarity and Coleman as the explosiveness to become more dynamic than Kenny Britt or Mohamed Sanu.
Behind Coleman and Harrison, you have two receivers that are solid and not much room to grow to spectacular. Quron Pratt brings reliability and hands, but does not have the size or breakaway speed needed to take things to the next level. Tim Wright fits into the same category in his fifth year. Two years off of knee surgery, he will be in the best shape of his young career, but does not have the speed he once did.
Q. Who will win the starting OLB job? Merrell or Snyder?
A. For the first game of the season, take Jamal Merrell based on experience. Kevin Snyder will have plenty of chances to win the job, and if I were a betting man, he will by the end of the season. That is going to be a battle all year, but the thing to keep in mind is that Snyder is also a backup at middle linebacker for now.
Q. Who will have the most TDs on the team?
A.Savon Huggins. The starting tailback is usually a safe bet here, and Huggins has shown he is strong at the goal line. With a better line and fumble problems seemingly behind him, double-digit touchdowns is a strong possibility.
Q. Who will have more rushing yards in 2012 - Savon or Jamison?
A. Jamison. He almost broke 1,000 last year and greatly exceeded expectations. His yards per carry mark was 33 percent better than Huggins' last season.
Q. We've heard a lot about coach Flood and his different style of coaching from Schiano and how it is a much more relaxed environment for the players. What about the assistant coaches - have any stood out to you? Are there certain coaches that the players are really excited about? Which assistant coaches do you think are going to have a major impact with future recruiting classes?
A. I'll split this into two parts — on the field and recruiting.
On the field, coaches, like players, seem more comfortable than they did under Schiano. This is not a knock on Schiano, who ran a tight ship and it worked very well for him. Attitude cannot be judged as better or worse until we see what happens on the field. The same goes with judging assistants. Don't judge them until you see them in games.
On paper, quarterbacks coach Rob Spence and defensive coordinator Robb Smith are huge additions. Assistant Andrew Janocko, teamed with offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, was all the quarterbacks had this season. Now they get a full-time position coach with a history of results. Smith was the best choice to replace Schiano calling plays defensively. He learned under him for years, has play-calling experience and a history of success on special teams.
In recruiting, everyone has played their part. Jim Panagos and Darnell Dinkins are the most impressive in terms of numbers. The two are a strong force in Florida, locking up the likes of Taylor Marini and Nick Internicola. The thing to remember is that it takes time to build relationships and the coaches have only been at Rutgers for six months.
In recruiting, every coach has done something impressive so far, but Brock's ability to lock in on quarterback Chris Laviano and reel him in stands out.
Q. The RU Defense always performed better with Schiano actively calling plays/running the defense, look at the 2010 to 2011 change. While we have most players returning, play calling will change. How much of a difference do you feel the Schiano to Smith transition will make?
A. This fits well into the last answer. There is no question that losing Schiano as a defensive play caller is tough, but Smith has a track-record of success and won more than one game last year with his adjustments as a special-teams play-caller. For my money, there was no feasible option out there better than Smith to replace Schiano and Flood made a great move by promoting him.
I don't expect any major philosophy change when it comes to play-calling. Rutgers recruited its current personnel to fit into Schiano's schemes and it makes no