Scarlet-White Game Notes, Part I

Rutgers held its annual spring game Saturday, and a school-record 20,114 were on hand to watch the Scarlet beat the White 16-7 at Rutgers Stadium. In Part I of the two-part notebook, coach Greg Schiano talked about the offensive line, the development of several key players and what he views as the most important aspect of spring practice.

PISCATAWAY – The sun was shining, a school-record 20,114 fans found their way into Rutgers Stadium and the state's top recruit, running back Savon Huggins of St. Peter's Prep of Jersey City, was in attendance.

It was a day for fun, and so much so coach Greg Schiano, who spent time visiting with recruits to watching the Scarlet-White game from various spots of the stadium,said afterward he doesn't watch the film of the spring game, and his biggest concern is coming out of in good health.

So Schiano's focus isn't the game, but how the spring progressed. And for all the good things that came out of the spring, the most unsettled piece of the 2010 Rutgers puzzle is the offensive line, mostly because injuries made the unit incomplete.

Starting center Howard Barbieri (knee) missed much of the spring, projected starting guard/tackle Desmond Wynn (shoulder surgery) was held out the whole time, red-shirt freshman Antwan Lowery (hand) spent the first part of the spring with the first unit before being injured and even tackle Richard Watkis, who spent part of the spring with the first offense, missed the end of it with an ankle injury.

"It'll be important that we get them all back healthy because I don't know who the best five are yet,'' Schiano said after Scarlet's 16-7 win against the White. "I think I speak for (offensive line coach) Kyle (Flood) as well, we have an idea going in.

"We could probably handicap it a little bit, but if you said to me, ‘Do you know who the starting five will be opening day?' The answers is, No.' I don't like that.''

The first-unit offensive opened the spring game with Desmond Stapleton at left tackle, true freshman Betim Bujari at left guard, Caleb Ruch at center, Mo Lange at right guard and Art Forst at right tackle.

However, if Rutgers enters fall camp healthy, look for the offensive line to consist of some combination of Stapleton, Wynn, Forst, Barbieri and either Bujari, Lowery or another late-comer into the mix.

Backing up Savage
Rutgers backup quarterback Steve Shimko had an uneven spring game, fitting a few passes into tight coverage, but also being intercepted twice and throwing into heavy coverage on several occasions.

However, he made enormous strides from the beginning of spring practice to the end, culminating with completing 9 of 17 for 111 yards and a 37-yard touchdown pass to Keith Stroud in the spring game.

"I think he improved, which is important,'' Schiano said. "I think each live opportunity, he got better. …One of the things when you don't hit your quarterbacks, it does give you a little bit of a false sense of security sometimes, but I thought he improved. So, that's important.'' But Shimko didn't do enough to cement his role as Savage's backup. "I think there will be competition for that spot come training camp,'' Schiano said.

The competition will come from incoming freshman Chas Dodd.

Spring game stats and stuff
The Scarlet, which comprised the first-team offense and second-team defense, won the spring game 16-7, with the Scarlet's lone touchdown coming on the game-opening 65-yard drive when Joe Martinek scored on a 1-yard run.

Starting quarterback Tom Savage was 17 of 30 for 181 yards and an interception, made by Steve Beauharnais.

Martinek finished with 116 yards on 18 carries, including a 52-yard run. Quron Pratt had eight catches for 55 yards, Tim Wright had four catches for 40 yards, Mark Harrison had three catches for 46 yards and tight end D.C. Jefferson added two catches for 40 yards.

On the second-team offense, Julian Hayes and (3 catches, 29 yards) led the receivers while Keith Stroud (2-44) and tight end Paul Carrezola (2-23) each had an impact.

Defensively, linebackers Antonio Lowery and Beuharnais each had 13 tackles with the first-team defense and linebacker Ka'Lial Glaud had eight tackles.

Also, San San Te made all three field goal attempts (21, 24, 39 yards).

"We got out of it, as of right now, healthy, which is the most important thing,'' Schiano said. "We had a good spring. Guys worked very hard. There's 14 practices, and today is really for the players, the families and the fans more than it is for development, although some of the young guys get their first chance to play in front of a crowd.''

Pratt's progress
Wright received the most improved on offense award, but Schiano said Pratt is in the same class. Pratt capped his strong spring with a game-high eight catches while playing mostly in the slot.

"Quron had a good spring,'' Schiano said. "He's another guy that could have been in that ranking with Timmy Wright. It doesn't surprise me. He's a kid that has a knack. There are some guys that just make plays.''

Pratt is looking to fill the void left by speedster Tim Brown, but in a different role. Brown was used to stretch the field and was quick and fast. Pratt is a possession-type receiver, but he needs to add weight and strength to his 6-foot, 177-pound frame.

"He's slight. He's got to build himself up,'' Schiano said. "But because he really cares, he'll continue to get bigger and stronger and do all those things, but you can't put the play-making ability …it's hard to coach that.

"So I think has he gets bigger and stronger, it's only going to be more magnified. So he's got a chance to be a really good player.''

Sitting and watching
In addition to the injured offensive linemen, there were plenty of other high-profile spectators watching from the sideline rather than participating in the scrimmage.

Defensive tackle Charlie Noonan, receiver Mohamed Sanu, defenisve end Justin Francis and running backs De'Antwan Williams and Kordell Young did not participate.

Also, running back Mason Robinson was limited to fielding punts in a non-contact situation.


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