Savage ready to slide back into starting role

Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage will take the field for the first time in three weeks when the Scarlet Knights host Texas Southern for Saturday's homecoming game. The true freshman missed the last game because of a concussion, and said he will be more careful and more aware of situations when under pressure and also scrambling out of the pocket.

As if quarterback Tom Savage didn't have enough idle time, he took a few more days off over the weekend. Not by choice, mind you, but because it was the right thing to do.

But when he went traveled home during Rutgers' bye during the weekend, the competitor in him surfaced and he toyed with the idea of throwing the football around with his brother.

His mom , though, had something else to say.

"My mom was more of the 'You should listen to the doctors,''' Savage said. "My dad is more of a hard-nosed guy. He was more like 'Stop crying and get out there.' ‘'

Savage is past the kid-gloves treatment, but head injuries are always treated with the utmost caution and care, which is why Rutgers coach Greg Schiano continued to tip-toe the line Monday on whether his talented freshman would start Saturday's homecoming tilt against Texas Southern.

"He has been practicing for two days now,'' Schiano said. "I guess the only (thing) that would preclude him from playing is if something took a turn in the other direction. Right now he is on the way up."

In reality, something would have to go unexpectedly and confusingly wrong for Savage not start against the Tigers, but just because he is back on the field doesn't mean the whole concussion thing is over.

It will be a question until Savage takes the next big hit, and he is able to brush the rubber pellets for the Rutgers Stadium turf off his elbows and head back to the huddle.

Savage told reporters after the Florida International game he was knocked out, and in discussing the injury Monday said he didn't remember the play. Instead, he watched the film to get a feel for what transpired.

"It really didn't look that bad,'' Savage said. "I didn't know what happened. Then I saw a different angle. (But) it wasn't that bad of a hit.''

The hit against Florida International kept Savage out of the next game, a 34-13 win at Maryland in which backup quarterback Domenic Natale passes for 42 yards. It also is making the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Savage re-think how he will play.

"I'll definitely try to slide a little bit more," Savage said. "You can't worry about injuries. You can't control it. You can't play scared. I won't be afraid to run or anything just because of the hit.''

However, there is reason for Savage to change his style of play, even if ever-so-slightly as he tries to minimize the risk of suffering another concussion. He said he has no history of concussions, but if he sustained another one this campaign, it could place the rest of his season in jeopardy.

"I won't be afraid to run or anything just because of the hit,'' Savage said. "But sometimes you've got to learn when to get down, and when to stay up.''

The injury also robbed Savage of valuable practice time, not to mention vital game experience as the Scarlet Knights creep closer to the meat of the Big East schedule.

Savage is 34 for 64 for 543 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. But he's only played one full game, a 45-7 thrashing of Howard. By the time he takes a snap against Texas Southern, it will be three three weeks between appearances.

"It's been a while since I've been out there," Savage said. "I can't wait to get out there, especially with the crowd noise. It's going to be awesome. I'm excited to get out there and play again.''

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