We continue our journey back to the future. This article is the fifth of an eight-part preview of the Rutgers football team as it entered spring camp. The first three segments previewed the defense. The last article looked at the offensive line. Although the performance of the offense starts up front with the offensive line, the QB is the single most important position because Rutgers uses a pass-oriented spread offense. I'll look at this key position, which was a source of great angst last season. This preview is based upon information released only prior to the opening of spring camp. My thoughts likewise share the same perspective. The article reviews roster changes and injuries at the outset of spring camp. The article also identifies issues that needed to be addressed in spring practice and were observed by fans at the practices and scrimmages. This belated preview still offers some useful insights into spring camp because it allows the reader, with a post-camp perspective, to answer questions developed before camp opened.
The QB position was a soap opera last year. The heir apparent transferred out of the program immediately after spring camp. One recruit was academically ineligible. Summer camp saw a near three-way dead heat between the returning backup, a former walk-on, and a highly touted recruit. After head coach Greg Schiano awarded the starting job, carte blanche, to the true freshman, the returning backup transferred out of the program only days before the season opener. A walk-on DB was converted to the 3rd–team QB. And then the season started. Rutgers broke the Big East record for fewest points scored and the offense ranked #108 nationally in passing offense (137 yards per game) and dead last (#115) in scoring offense (11 points per game).
PLAYERS LOST FROM THE TWO-DEEP
Both players from the two-deep return this year.
RETURNING PLAYERS FROM THE TWO-DEEP
Players returning off of the two-deep include:
So Ryan Cubit (11 GS, 120 of 268, 1,433 yards, 9 TDs, and 19 INTs)
- Sr Ted Trump (6 GP, 7 of 12, 60 yards, and 1 INT)
Ryan Cubit was a highly touted recruit. Perhaps the highest rated QB to sign with Rutgers. In a controversial decision, Schiano awarded the starting QB job to Cubit at the end of summer camp. Furthermore, Schiano guaranteed the job with a "no hook" pronouncement. When backup QB Chad Schwenk promptly transferred, Cubit's hold on the job appeared concrete. Not surprisingly, the true freshman struggled, completing only 45% of his passes and throwing twice as many INTs as TDs. Cubit's performance was hampered by a terrible OLine that couldn't protect him, RBs that couldn't pick up blitzers, and receivers that couldn't make plays. However, Cubit contributed to the offensive malaise because he couldn't read coverages, locked onto his primary receiver, held on the to the ball too long, forced throws into heavy coverage, and missed open receivers. Cubit can't improve the OL, RBs, or WRs. But he can improve in those areas within his control. How much progress will he show this spring?
Ted Trump joined the program for the 2000 season as a walk-on but did not play. With the departure of 4-year starter Mike McMahon, Trump entered spring camp last year as the 3rd-team QB. When QB Chris Dapolito transferred out of the program after spring camp, Trump was given a scholarship. Trump competed for the starting QB job in summer camp before eventually finishing third. However, Schwenk's transfer moved Trump into the primary backup job. Despite the plethora of blowouts and repeated poor performances by Cubit, Trump saw only spot mop-up duty in 6 games. With Cubit's performance hardly worthy of job security, Trump enters spring camp looking to unseat the incumbent, but handicapped by an inexcusable lack of experience.
NEW CANDIDATE FOR THE TWO-DEEP
RS Fr Chris Baker was academically ineligible last season. He practiced as the scout team QB. Baker enters spring camp as the 3rd-team QB. Based upon reports from summer camp, Baker may lack the arm strength for a Division IA QB. However, he is the most mobile QB in the program. Baker's performance will be interesting to monitor this spring. His mobility offers a potential weapon considering the questionable OLine. But can he pose a sufficient passing threat to get on the field at QB? Or will he be switched to WR, a rumored possibility?
The performance of Ryan Cubit last season was adversely impacted by poor play along the OLine and at RB and WR. However, Cubit contributed his fair share of mistakes. How will the QBs fare in their areas of responsibility? How will they read coverages? Will they lock onto their primary receiver?