Spring review: The Quarterbacks

In the first in a series in which ScarletReport.com will analyze how performances in the spring translates to what to expect entering August training camp, we look at the play of the quarterbacks, and what transpired. Tom Savage was starter going in, and nothing was going to happen to change that. But there were a few developments at the position, including whether backup Steve Shimko improved.

There was no position battle, and really very little drama, when it came to the quarterback situation during spring practice, but there were positive developments for Tom Savage and Stephen Shimko.

Savage, who will be a true sophomore in the fall, looked poised, showed a strong command of the offense and understood the defensive concepts being thrown his way. He was smooth in his delivery, knew where to throw the ball and didn't force many passes, although on occasions he criticized himself for holding onto the ball too long.

Coming off a strong freshman season in which Savage completed 149 of 285 passes for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions, the biggest thing the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder needed from spring practice was to prove the game was slowing down for him.

Whether it was waiting for deep routes to develop or hitting quick passes through tight openings, Savage's timing was impressive.

Savage also continued to demonstrate his strong arm as well as his nice touch throwing the ball down the field.

What will be crucial to Savage's development before training camp is his work in the film room. As coach Greg Schiano mentioned several times late during the 2009 season and periodically in spring practice, a big step in this offseason is Savage's ability to studying opposing defenses, and learn them by the time the season begins.

But the backup situation remains in flux, and is vital considering the pounding Savage took last season. Rutgers allowed 40 sacks, and Savage missed one game with a concussion.

Shimko, by default, will enter training camp as the backup since he spent the spring as the only other quarterback on the roster, but Schiano made it clear there will be competition between Shimko and incoming freshman Chas Dodd when fall camp commences.

However, in looking back at the spring, the progress Shimko made was enormous, although he still has a long way to go.

Shimko's mechanics were out of sorts in the early part, but he found a rhythm and looked markedly more comfortable during the second half of the 15 practices. And as his confidence rose, his penchant to force the ball into coverage declined.

The question now is whether the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Shimko, who will be a third-year junior, can continue with his momentum and improve his mechanics in case he is called on next season.

If not, Rutgers' backup quarterback plan could consist of a heavy dose of the "Wildcat'' with either sophomore-to-be Mohamed Sanu or incoming freshman Jeremy Deering running the offense.


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