Opportunity Knocking for Dodd

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Senior quarterback Chas Dodd went nearly two years between significant snaps with Rutgers, but must now prepare as the starter for one of the biggest non-conference games in school history. With Gary Nova's status in doubt following a concussion, Dodd assumes the first-team role for the Rutgers offense.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – There were plenty of times in the last 15 months where Chas Dodd did not expect to see another meaningful snap in a Rutgers uniform. Losing an open quarterback competition to Gary Nova in coach Kyle Flood's first year, Dodd chose to embrace his role as a backup and it is about to pay off big time.

Nova has not been cleared by doctors since his concussion, making Dodd the first-team quarterback for his biggest since beating Iowa State in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl. Dodd was not at his best when thrust into action against Eastern Michigan, but guarantees he will be ready to lead Rutgers against Arkansas.

"I'm comfortable," Dodd said. "I'm going to be prepared if my number is called. I'm going to start game-planning this week and getting myself ready."

Dodd is no stranger to big games. He won multiple state championships out of Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes High School and started parts of his freshman and sophomore seasons at Rutgers.

Taking a backseat to Nova was not easy and sticking with it was tough at times, Dodd said.

"I decided that being [at Rutgers] was what I wanted," Dodd said. "I know that, even as the backup, I am one play away from seeing the field so I have to be ready to go. I could still help us win games."

Completing 44 percent of his passes and taking three sacks was not a strong start for Eastern Michigan.

Dodd admittedly needs to play better to beat Arkansas, but showed multiple times in the past that he can win games in a Rutgers uniform. Dodd led Rutgers to an epic comeback against South Florida after coach Greg Schiano pulled Gary Nova in the fourth quarter. Dodd beat Connecticut as a true freshman when Tom Savage was injured and he has won more bowl games as a starting quarterback than Nova.

"I'm very confident in Chas," said senior receiver Quron Pratt, who played a big roe with Dodd in 2011. "He won games for us in the past. He does it in practice. He does very well in practice. I have confidence in Chas and I know he's going to make improvements from last game."

Dodd worked with the ones during Sunday's walkthrough, and said he felt completely comfortable in what he was asked to do. Dodd will continue to work as a starter while Nova remains un-cleared by team doctors.

"I feel like we had a good practice out there yesterday and it was good getting back out there," Dodd said. "… Obviously you don't want a teammate hurt, but any time an opportunity presents itself, it's exciting. Any guy in this position wants to be the guy and wants to play, so it's definitely exciting to see what's going to happen with it. But obviously you don't want a guy hurt."

Uncertainty at quarterback has the running game on high alert and an even bigger spotlight on Paul James. James leads the NCAA in rushing yards but faces No. 4 and No. 7 in the country in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins.

"I definitely feel like there's more pressure [on me] with the quarterback situation and with Gary being down," James said. "I feel like there's a lot more pressure because it's a lot more reliant on the running backs right now. I feel like there's more pressure on me to know what I have to do."

Rutgers will prepare with Dodd as the start, but Flood plans to look at sophomore Mike Bimonte during the week, whose importance increases without Nova.

"I think he absolutely factors into it," Flood said. "If the doctors tell me that Gary can't go, then Mike becomes the backup quarterback, and then he has to assume the role that Chase has had in the past."

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