The Rutgers football team embarks on its first full scrimmage tomorrow, which will bring some clarity to several questions that have been lingering since the spring and even last fall. Will the offensive line gel into a cohesive unit? How will the depth chart at RB work itself out? What about the one starting corner job up for grabs between Brandon Bing and Logan Ryan?
In the meantime, here are some thoughts the week that was.
- QB: Steve Shimko's hurt, which could be giving true freshman Chas Dodd the opportunity to entrench himself as Tom Savage's primary backup. I've been a Dodd skeptic from day one, but the Rutgers staff does deserve the benefit of the doubt in that they have been very high on him since first extending an offer his way last summer. Dion Lewis of course is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, and no one is suggesting that Dodd has been anything other than somewhat promising, but sometimes these prospects hit. Sometimes they don't.
- RB: Joe Martinek has missed time with a hamstring injury. Jordan Thomas is getting a few looks here, and Coach Schiano wants to see how the backs look in the first scrimmage. Rocket's working with the first team over Kordell Young and friends, but Thomas and Turner get the positive quotes for now.
- WR: Tim Wright is out for the year (which probably locks in Mark Harrison as a starter), and slot receiver Quron Pratt has missed some time. Two freshmen impressing in their stead are Jeremy Deering and J.T. Tartacoff. Coach Fleck will coax some good performances this year.
- OL: Captain Howard Barbieri has missed time too, moving Caleb Ruch to center for the time being and elevating Antwan Lowery to first team left guard duties. Ruch reportedly had some issues with snapping in the spring (David Osei eventually was seeing time), which is understandably an obstacle to taking over that job next year. Rutgers could soon have three talented guards in Wynn, Lowery, and Bujari. I think Ruch is somewhat overlooked because he was hurt last year, and will be an asset this season, but he needs to get center down for 2011 in order to get the team's best lineup on the field at that point.
- DL/LB: Not much intrigue here. Mostly interested to see how some of the younger DL (Merrell, Civil, Larrow) look in the scrimmage. It'd be a huge surprise if these units weren't really good, and one can only hope that any subpar OL performances can be attributed to the depth in the defensive front seven.
- DB: re: Ryan/Bing, my wishful thinking is that Ryan wins. It's not necessarily that Bing struggled in last year's opener. He subsequently settled down as a reserve, and can hardly be considered a liability when compared to some other teams' depth charts. I think Ryan is going to be special though. That's the main competition with Khaseem Greene locking down the safety job over the youngsters like Harmon and Givens.
- S/T: Mason Robinson to punt returner? I approve. He's been an afterthought because of the knee injury. Not only would it be great to see Robinson return to form, but Sanu really should give up return duties in order to stay fresher as a starting receiver. Rutgers has enough team speed to get by in the return game, meaning the biggest worry here is with San San Te's accuracy and inconsistency. Also: finding a long snapper.