PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Chas Dodd #19 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies at Rutgers Stadium on October 8, 2010 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Full recap coming later, but this is the issue that will be on everyone's lips today, so it ought to be dispensed with right away. There will be plenty of further discussion on play calls, stupid replay officials, why that game was not nearly as close as the score indicated, and why Rutgers should be 5-0 now or 4-1 at the minimum.
I am not yet prepared to say that Chas Dodd is better than Tom Savage. Dodd is is a true freshman with only six quarters of playing experience, and Savage looked rather promising as a true freshman himself last season. Savage is hurt, the offensive line is bad, and UConn's defense isn't anything to write home about. What does seem clear five games into the season is that Chas Dodd presently has a much smoother grasp than Savage on co-offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca's spread attack. That is understandable, considering that Dodd played for Byrnes and their record setting attack in South Carolina. These are uncharted waters for Rutgers considering Greg Schiano's unshaking loyalty to Mike Teel as a starting quarterback.
Credit the staff for discerning that when no other FBS programs wanted him, and for deliberating recruiting him over prospects with better measurables and offer lists. The play calling is distinctly different with Dodd in the game. Stuff the fans have been screaming for to be in Savage's arsenal - play action, bootlegs, rollouts, all the high-percentage plays are suddenly staples of the offense. There is a clear, distinct difference over RU's last six quarters of play. The glaring unknown is whether or not the changes are attributable to Dodd, or the staff changing course after last week's offensive futility.
Clearly last night's success isn't all on the play calls. Chas does a lot of things well. He has quickly showed a knack for play action and pump fakes, and nice footwork and pocket awareness. How refreshing is it to see him actually spread the ball around (welcome back, D.C. Jefferson), as opposed to Savage locking in on Sanu on every play? After the past two weeks, if hypothetically Savage saw reps again, would he finally start to trust the rest of the receiving corps a little? And that cannon...aren't smaller guys supposed to have limp noodle arms? There was the occasional miscue, and other defenses will be better than UConn, but there's far more on the positive end to take from last night's game.
Rutgers should unquestionably ride the hot hand in Dodd right now for as long as possible, which is clearly borne out by the on-field results. That does not necessarily mean though that he won't get the hook at some point. It has only been six quarters, and true freshman will have their ups and downs. No media reports have indicated that Dodd looked appreciable better than Savage during training camp or practices.The worst possible thing fans can do to Chas would be to immediately set expectations so sky high that he will inevitably fail to meet them. Believe me, this will go better if we approach every success like we are playing with house money. That, if anything, should be the lesson learned from all the various recent media pile-ons about Rutgers football supposedly "stagnating".
Any controversy over who to start is moot until Savage is back to fighting shape. The staff should err to the side of caution for now, and try to get Savage back to 100% before pushing the issue. That could be good for Tom. He's probably felt a lot of mental stress, and some time out of the spotlight could lessen that burden and let him clear his head a little. By no means has Rutgers seen the last of Tom Savage in 2010, if only because of the porous offensive line. As for the future, forget it for now and don't get ahead of yourself. There is a wide open Big East conference to win.
Who should Rutgers start at quarterback?
Chas Dodd (322 votes)
Mohamed Sanu (20 votes)
Tom Savage (68 votes)
410 total votes