Countdown to Kickoff: QBs

Rutgers kicks off its 2010 season Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Norfolk State at Rutgers Stadium, and has you covered with everything leading up to and including the game. In this new series, the good, the bad and the unknown will be dissected in a position-by-position reader-friendly chart. also provides its "Confidence Meter" for each positional grouping.

Rutgers opens the 2010 season in less than a week with a home contest against Football Championship Subdivision Norfolk State.
The game may not tell a lot about the type of team the Scarlet Knights will be, but it will be the first chance for many to see the talent Rutgers has on its roster.
Training camp is over, so a lot of things gained clarity.
In getting everyone ready for the Thursday kickoff (7:30 p.m.) at Rutgers Stadium, is introducing its "Countdown to Kickoff" series, beginning with a look at the Scarlet Knights quarterback situation.

Relevant players: Tom Savage (So.), Chas Dodd (Fr.), Steve Shimko (R-So.), Jason Friday (Fr.)

The Good: Savage is strong-armed, tough (he took a beating in 2009 and always got up), and with a year of experience, understands the offense and is getting a very good grasp on how defense's can change week-to-week, and drive-to-drive.

Savage already has a trusted receiver in Mohamed Sanu, and there is young talent for him to throw to in Jeremy Deering, J.T. Tartacoff and Mark Harrison.

He played in 12 games, 11 starts, as a true freshman and did something even veteran quarterbacks sometimes cannot accomplish, and that is take care of the football. In attempted 285 passes, and threw seven interceptions. That is one nearly every 41 attempts. He can throw the deep out, has touch on short-range passes and can throw down the field.

The Bad: If Savage doesn't get rid of the ball quicker in 2010, it could turn into a disaster at the quarterback position. Injuries to a quarterback will hurt nearly every team, but the Scarlet Knights' depth is a big issue.

Dodd is a talented freshman, but he is just that, a freshman. Even with how talented Savage was last season, the playbook was dramatically cut because it is too much to learn in one training camp.

Behind Dodd, for now, is Shimko, but he didn't throw a pass in training camp because of a sore shoulder, and it doesn't look like he will be part of the equation during the season. With walk-on Tyler Belia (Wagner transfer) ineligible under NCAA transfer rules, the only other quarterback is walk-on freshman Jason Friday.

It means if Savage goes down, there could be a lot of the "Wildcat" package.

The Unknown: Did Savage grow as much as expected in the offseason. He learned Rutgers' offense much better, he studied opposing defenses, he fine-tuned his mechanics so his passes don't sail as often, but how much better will he be.

While he is the Big East's most experienced quarterback, he is a 20-year-old sophomore. And, if an injury happens and Savage cannot play for an extended period of time, even the coaching staff doesn't know what it will be getting if one of the backups has to play.

Confidence Meter (1 to 10): 6

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