Starting quarterback Tom Savage was slow to get up after being sacked, and landed on by a defensive player, late in the second quarter. When Dodd saw it, he quickly began to warm up.
"At first it kind of took me back for a second," Dodd said. "If I was called on, I would have had to get in there and started doing what I'd been practicing the whole time."
Savage later called the scare "a stinger," and he stayed in the game. Dodd entered the game late in the fourth quarter and completed his only pass attempt, a 6-yarder to tight end Paul Carrezola.
"It was great," Dodd said. "Getting in there and getting some plays, even though they were running plays, I was happy to get in there and get started."
Earlier in the week Rutgers coach Greg Schiano elected not to divulge whether he would play Dodd, or try to red-shirt him this season. But while he kept the plan away from the public, he he did let Dodd in on it.
"I had talked to coach and he said he was probably going to play me, so I was ready for it," Dodd said. "It was important just getting in there and getting some reps, in case something were to happen to Tom, so I would have some experience so I could get in there and be able to carry the team."
Because Dodd played, it means the only way he can get a red-shirt this season is if he is injured and misses the rest of the year. But that must take place in the first half of the season.
Since Dodd is the only other healthy scholarship quarterback, Schiano elected to play him.
Dodd didn't mind most of his plays were hand-offs because he still gained experience.
"The whole college atmosphere …I'm thankful just to get out on the field," Dodd said. "That's the biggest thing."
Savage is the most experienced quarterback in the Big East, but he is still a true sophomore and suffered from a heavy dose of the jitters. In fact, it was worst than last year, when Savage made his Rutgers debut in the second half against Cincinnati.
"To be honest, that was the most nervous I ever was," Savage said. "There was just something about this game being the first game, I was nervous. But right now I'm happy because I know what I need to work on. I'm going to get it together.
"I'm going to get things turned around. On the bright side, I didn't force too many balls or make too many bad decisions. It's just the easy throws that I need to complete. I'm confident that I'm going to do it."
Savage finished 10 of 19 for 148 yards and a touchdown, but under threw several receivers and missed potential big plays by throwing behind receivers on several occasions.
Joltin' Jersey Joe
Red-shirt junior running back helped jumpstart the offense on the first touchdown drive of the season when he carried four times for 54 yards on a seven-play, 75-yard drive. He scored on a 6-yard run, but it was set up by a 35-yard run on the previous play.
"It was big for momentum," Martinek said. "We got the defense tired. It made us hungry that we were that close and then we just wanted to run the ball into the end zone."
Props for the backfield ‘mate
Martinek ran for 109 yards but he wasn't alone in the rushing game. Freshman Jordan Thomas made his debut by carrying 13 times 47 yards.
"He's a great athlete, as you can tell," Martinek said. "He has a lot of potential. I know personally I'm going to try to get him in the film room and teach him everything because that'll give defenses something else to worry about."
Tackle, tackle …Goose
For the first straight season Rutgers has a shutout, and was the first time it opened a season with one since Sept. 8, 1979, when it beat Holy Cross 2
8-0. There were only two times the shutout seemed in jeopardy. Ten minutes into the game Norfolk State had the ball on Rutgers' 13-yard line but fumbled the snap, which Scarlet Knights defensive tackle Eric LeGrand recovered, and Ryan Estep missed a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
"Goose eggs are what you want and when you put up a goose egg you know you played well," Rutgers linebacker Antonio Lowery said. "You'll have mistakes the first game but that's what practices are for – cleaning all that up."
There was a crazy ending to the first half when Rutgers' San San Te kicked a 20-yard field goal to make it 6-0, but it wasn't that simple.
The field goal came after Savage connected with receiver Mohamed Sanu for 29 yards. It was originally ruled Sanu went out-of-bounds so the clock stopped with one second, but a review showed Sanu remained inbounds and the half was over.
However, Schiano argued since it was a first down the clock stops until the ball is set, and the officials agreed. So Rutgers hustled the field goal unit onto the field and Te converted the kick. But Norfolk State coach Pete Adrian was frustrated by the situation.
"I don't think they knew," Adrian said. "It was all confused over there. That's the way it goes. I would have liked to see them be a little more accurate with some of the calls that they had. Not that Rutgers needed any help."