Looking ahead: QBs

In ScarletReport.com's second installment of the position-by-position breakdowns for Rutgers heading into the 2010 season, the quarterback position is addressed. At the top, it looks great with sophomore-to-be Tom Savage. Beyond that, though, the Scarlet Knights have serious depth issues. They will head into spring practice with two quarterbacks, and have another coming in the summer.

The health of quarterback Tom Savage figures to be a large determinant in Rutgers' success for the next few seasons, and that is especially true in 2010.

Domenic Natale and Jabu Lovelace didn't get much time last season, but at least both were seniors with a wealth of practice experience and maturity.

But the Scarlet Knights are poised to enter spring practice with two – yes, only two – quarterbacks on the roster, meaning Savage, who will be a sophomore, and red-shirt sophomore-to-be Steve Shimko will get plenty of reps.

The quarterback depth took a hit in training camp when D.C. Jefferson was shifted to tight end. The move made sense, and was the right thing to do, since Jefferson has the potential to be a star tight end, and his future at quarterback was hopeful, at best.

Jefferson's growth as a tight end, and his desire to remain on the field, will preclude him from returning to quarterback.

Savage should be able to flourish in an environment of getting so much work since he is a rugged, strong player still in need of as many reps as possible.

He was 149 of 285 (52.3 percent) for 2,211 yards. He also threw 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions, which is a miraculous feat for a freshman asked to carry an offense with a lackluster running game.

Savage was poised and confident, and became markedly more comfortable in the pocket as the season progressed. He has a strong, accurate arm that should improve dramatically for the upcoming season.

He consistently went through his progressions, and displayed an uncanny ability to miss passes where defenders could not intercept them, aside from a poor decision against West Virginia that led to a touchdown.

Savage must now grow in using his eyes to look off safeties before throwing the ball down field, and also gain a better understanding of getting rid of the ball to avoid a sack. All in all, though, it was a remarkable season for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Savage.

Shimko is an unknown, so the spring is vital for his development. He spent the first two seasons running scout team and getting few offensive reps, so his learning curve should be huge.

Although not as athletic as Savage and without the arm strength, the 6-5, 230-pound big-bodied Shimko is a pocket passer.

If there is an issue with Savage's health heading into the 2010 season, or during it, receiver Mohamed Sanu will be one of the ways the Scarlet Knights compensate.

Sanu is a former high school quarterback, and his ability to run the "Wildcat'' package successfully makes him a nature choice to ease the burden at quarterback. When the Scarlet Knights' running game out of a traditional set fell apart, it was Sanu's production from the "Wildcat'' that allowed the offense to survive.

Stories from high school have Sanu throwing passes 70 yards, and he did show his arm strength in several instances last season. He went 1 of 4 on pass attempts, but was able to get the ball down the field.

There was early discussion about getting Rutgers commit Chas Dodd, who starred at Byrnes High of Duncan, S.C., to enroll early, but it never reached a substantive level because Dodd was not far enough along academically.

So, the 6-foot, 190-pound Dodd will walk onto campus in the late spring as the third quarterback on the depth chart, which will translate into plenty of reps in training camp.

Freshman defensive back Logan Ryan played quarterback in high school, and there is always a chance for Rutgers to bring a walk-on quarterback into the program to provide depth.

Scarlet Report Top Stories