New York Colleges: Tom Savage

Rutgers QB situation remains unclear

January, 7, 2011
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NEW YORK -- Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage is still mulling over whether or not to transfer, according to Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.

"We're in the process of working through all that," Schiano said in a conference call with reporters on Friday. "Whatever it ends up being, we'll make sure everybody understands it."

Two seasons ago, as a true freshman, Savage started every game but one and threw for 2,211 yards (a Big East freshman record), 14 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. But this past season he played poorly early, got banged up, and eventually lost his starting job to another true freshman, Chas Dodd.

Dodd got off to a hot start, struggled some (along with the rest of the team) down the stretch, and finished with 1,637 passing yards, 11 TDs, and 11 INTs.

New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, hired earlier this week to replace Kirk Ciarrocca, was also on the conference call on Friday. Cignetti served as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator this past season, until Dave Wannstedt was forced to resign.

Cignetti said he has spoken to both Savage and Dodd. "Two very good conversations with both young men," Cignetti said. "[I'm] excited to work with both of them."

When asked if Savage gave him any clue about whether he was transferring or not, Cignetti said, "He gave me no indication, other than that he wants to be here at Rutgers University."

Cignetti will be taking over an offense that finished 114th out of 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision in net yards per game last season. But Cignetti sounded optimistic on Friday.

"Looking at the personnel at Rutgers, I thought, very good," Cignetti said. "I thought there was gonna be a bright future here."

Cignetti has worked for three NFL teams -- as the quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers (2007) and the New Orleans Saints (2000-01), and as an offensive assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs (1999). He plans to employ a pro-style offense with the Scarlet Knights.

"We have some tremendous playmakers," Schiano said. "And our focus (now) is to get them in position to make plays."

When asked if Cignetti's system was well-suited to Savage's game, Schiano said, "Tom's decision is gonna have to be Tom's decision. Having said that, I do think Tom's skill set fits very well into this. As does Chas'."

Schiano sticking with Dodd ... probably

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
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Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said Tuesday that he will likely start freshman Chas Dodd at quarterback on Saturday for the fifth straight game, when the Scarlet Knights host Syracuse.

But, Schiano said that wasn't set in stone.

"Yeah, I think Chas will start," Schiano said at his weekly news conference. "I think that is the way we are going to go, but if the week goes differently than I suspect and Tom [Savage] out-performs him it wouldn't be out of the realm. Again, I make those decisions Thursday into Friday and sometimes even on Saturday."

Schiano was also asked how he feels Savage -- the starting QB almost all of last season and at the beginning of this season -- is handling the demotion.

"I am pleased," Schiano said. "I think it is eating his guts up, he is a competitor. He wants to play. Again, I think he does know that whether I am right or I am wrong in the final decision I make, I most certainly give everybody the opportunity to compete."

Rutgers (4-4, 1-2 in the Big East) needs at least two wins in the season's final four games in order to become bowl-eligible. Syracuse (6-3, 3-2 in the Big East) is much-improved, although they are coming off a tough loss to Louisville.

Kickoff on Saturday is at 3:30 p.m. ET, and the game will air on ESPNU.

Rutgers faces critical game vs. USF

November, 3, 2010
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Charles LeClaire-US Presswire
Greg Schiano leads his team into Tampa Wednesday night, hoping to pick off South Florida.

Rutgers is at a turning point of its season, as it prepares to face South Florida on Wednesday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will air on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

The Scarlet Knights are 4-3 overall, and 1-1 in the Big East -- one of only three teams in the conference with one loss or less, along with Pittsburgh (3-0) and Syracuse (3-1). A loss Wednesday night would severely hamper Rutgers' chances of securing at least a share of its first-ever Big East championship.

South Florida comes in 4-3 as well. The Bulls are 1-2 in Big East play, but are coming off an exciting 38-30 win at Cincinnati.

Rutgers hasn't played a game Oct. 23 -- a disappointing 41-21 loss at Pitt. But that was Rutgers' first game since defensive tackle Eric LeGrand suffered a devastating spinal cord injury, which almost certainly took a toll on the entire team.

With 10 days off between games, the players have had a little extra time to regroup from the Pitt loss, and process what has happened to their teammate.

"I don't think they will ever not have [LeGrand's injury] on their minds," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said at his weekly news conference on Saturday. "In life, you always have something else going, you don't just play football in a tunnel. I think as time moves on people will adjust emotionally better to the situation. Hopefully, it becomes where we can have a little more normalcy, but it will never be normal. Things have drastically changed for us ... [although] not nearly as drastically as they have changed for Eric."

Schiano announced on Monday that freshman Chas Dodd will start at quarterback for the fourth straight game, even though Tom Savage -- who began the season as the starter -- is 100-percent recovered from his rib and throwing-hand injuries.

Charles LeClaire/US Presswire
Chas Dodd got the starting nod for Wednesday night's game, even though Tom Savage is healthy.



Savage struggled early this season before getting hurt, while Dodd was outstanding in leading the Scarlet Knights to come-from-behind victories against UConn and Army in his first two collegiate starts. But Dodd hit his first speed bump against Pitt, completing just 8 of 19 passes for 62 yards with an interception. Savage relieved Dodd late in that game and threw a touchdown pass -- so if Dodd struggles against South Florida, don't be surprised if you see Savage come in again.

On the other side of the ball, the Rutgers defense will have to contend with USF sohphomore quarterback B.J. Daniels. Daniels threw for 1,983 yards and 14 TDs last season, with only nine interceptions -- and he ran for 772 yards and nine TDs. But he's been up and down this season under new coach Skip Holtz. He's thrown for 1,089 yards and has a higher completion percentage than last year, but he's not running as much and has already thrown 10 picks, one more than all of last year.

Still, Schiano said the Scarlet Knights are very wary of Daniels. "We have our hands full," Schiano said. "If he is not the best athlete in this league, he is one of the top three and I think he is the best athlete. ... He has got a cannon and can beat you in many different ways."

Rutgers needs at least two more wins in the season's remaining five games to secure a winning record and a chance to go to a bowl game for the sixth consecutive season. We'll see if the Scarlet Knights can pick up one of those wins down south on Wednesday night.

Rutgers sticking with Dodd vs. USF

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
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Rutgers coach Greg Schiano announced on Monday that freshman Chas Dodd will start at quarterback for the fourth game in a row on Wednesday night when the Scarlet Knights play at South Florida.

The game is at 7 p.m., and will air on ESPN2.

Sophomore QB Tom Savage, the incumbent starter at the beginning of the season, is now fully recovered from injuries to his ribs and his throwing hand. But Schiano is sticking with Dodd, who led the team to come-from-behind wins against UConn and Army, but struggled in a 41-21 loss at Pitt on Oct. 23.

Savage was excellent last year, but struggled early this season, even before suffering the injuries.

Rutgers set for Army at Meadowlands

October, 15, 2010
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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


Rutgers, coming off an exciting 27-24 comeback win versus UConn last Friday night, is ready for its final non-conference game of the regular season, versus Army, at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Saturday.

The game will kick off at 2 p.m., and air exclusively on ESPN3.com.

True freshman quarterback Chas Dodd will make the second start of his college career for the Scarlet Knights, coming off an extremely impressive debut against UConn. Dodd completed 18-of-29 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. The performance garnered him Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.

"I am excited about it," Dodd said earlier this week, after learning he would get a second start. "Just practicing this week preparing and focusing on what we have to do to get ready for the next one."

Dodd replaced sophomore Tom Savage, who went to the bench because of an injury to his throwing hand. But the truth is, this move was probably coming anyway. Although Savage had a very impressive first season, setting the Big East record for passing yards by a true freshman, he had seriously struggled in the first four games of this season. Dodd swiftly re-energized the Scarlet Knights' offense after replacing the injured Savage in the Tulane game two weeks ago, and was even better against UConn.

Savage will back up Dodd on Saturday, even though he is still not 100 percent. And, Savage said earlier this week that he understands the starting quarterback job is no longer exclusively his, but hopes to compete to get the job back once he is completely healthy again.

"Every position in our program is an open competition every week and that's been proven," Schiano said. "That's not just me saying it; you look at my tenure as coach, that's been proven."

In the meantime, Dodd said Savage has been very good to him. "He's helped me out tons," Dodd said. "I've asked him about his experiences last year, coming in and getting the starting job, just how he felt and how he coped with it. Especially on the field, when I come off the field he's always helping me out, telling me what maybe I didn't see. He's a big help."

Rutgers is hoping to go to 4-2 on the season, before playing its final six games against Big East opponents. But it won't be an easy task. Army is 4-2 and much-improved -- in fact, its only two losses were by a field goal to Hawaii (31-28) and by a touchdown to Temple (42-35).

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has been worried about this game since the preseason. In fact, the Scarlet Knights spent practice time in the preseason focused on this game, even though it was the sixth game of the season.

Why? Because Army is a very unorthodox team.

"This is a tough, tough team to prepare for," Schiano said. "Offensively, they run a triple option. They've added a few things formation-[wise] as well as plays that makes it much more difficult to prepare for."

"Offensively, we’re facing a defense that is different than what we've played," Schiano added. "They play the flex or what used to be the Desert Storm. [It's] a little bit different in the way they line up, a little different in the way their responsibilities are played so it's certainly a challenge."

These teams have played each other 36 times dating all the way back to 1891, with each team winning 18 times. And this is the first time since 1993 that both teams have winning records when facing each other.

Suffice it to say, it's an important game for both teams.

As for why it's being played at the New Meadowlands Stadium? Well, Schiano put it bluntly.

"It was purely financial," Schiano said. "I know as the head coach of the football program at Rutgers, we're part of the university, we're part of an athletic department and I don't think it would be responsible not to take advantage of the opportunity that's presented to us."

According to The Star-Ledger, Rutgers will make $2.7 million by playing the game at the Meadowlands -- money that could help other sports programs at the school, besides the football team.

Normally, the school takes in about $1.5 million for a home game at Rutgers Stadium.

Rutgers will start Dodd again at QB

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
12:54
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Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has revealed that freshman Chas Dodd will start again at quarterback when the Scarlet Knights take on Army this coming Saturday at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

"Dodd is going to get the start," Schiano said on the Big East's weekly coaches conference call Monday afternoon.

Dodd made his first collegiate start on Friday night in Rutgers' Big East opener versus UConn and was outstanding, completing 18-of-29 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns in the Scarlet Knights' 27-24 comeback win. In light of that performance, Dodd was also named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week.

Dodd replaced sophomore Tom Savage, who is nursing a hand injury he suffered two weeks ago against Tulane. Savage had also struggled this season prior to the injury.

Schiano said Savage's hand "is still not well," and hopes he can do more in practice as the week goes on. Savage will back up Dodd on Saturday.

Rutgers' Savage listed as 'questionable'

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
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Rutgers' official injury report for the week was released on Wednesday, and starting quarterback Tom Savage was listed as "questionable" for Friday night's Big East opener versus UConn (7:30 p.m. on ESPN).

All indications from Rutgers coach Greg Schiano are that we won't know who will start at QB for the Scarlet Knights until right around kickoff.

Click here to read more on the Scarlet Knights' current predicament, as they prepare to try to turn around their season after two consecutive losses.

Rutgers' starting QB for UConn: ???

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
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Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said Monday afternoon that he's not sure who his starting quarterback will be Friday night vs. UConn, and he probably won't know until Friday.

"I think that's gonna be a game-time decision, for sure," Schiano said on the Big East's weekly coaches conference call.

Starting QB Tom Savage suffered bruised ribs two Saturdays ago versus North Carolina, and this past Saturday he had to come out of the game in the second quarter with an injured throwing hand.

Backup QB Chas Dodd, a true freshman, replaced Savage and was more effective at moving the Scarlet Knights down the field, although they still suffered a very disappointing 17-14 loss to Tulane.

Friday night's game is a huge one for Rutgers, coming off two tough losses in a row at home. It's the opening game of their Big East schedule, at Rutgers Stadium, and it's on national television, airing on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.

ESPNNewYork.com will be there for live coverage.

Savage, Martinek should play vs. Tulane

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
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Rutgers starting quarterback Tom Savage and starting runnning back Joe Martinek were both listed as probable on the Big East's official injury report on Friday, so both should be in the lineup when the Scarlet Knights take on the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday afternoon.

The game is at 2 p.m., and can be viewed exclusively on ESPN3. ESPNNewYork.com will also cover the game, with a live blog during the game and a postgame story afterwards.

Rutgers will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 17-13 loss to North Carolina last Saturday. The Scarlet Knights had a great chance to go 3-0 on the season, but the offense wasn't up to the task, as Savage threw two critical interceptions in the UNC red zone.

Savage also suffered bruised ribs against the Tar Heels, but only missed one series in the game. And he has maintained all week that he would be able to play on Saturday.

The question is, how effective will he be? After an impressive freshman season, Savage has had a rough start to his sophomore year -- he has completed barely more than 50 percent of his passes, with just one touchdown and three interceptions.

"It's frustrating when you know you can do it. It's frustrating when you've made the throws before. It's frustrating when you know the guys are open," Savage said after the North Carolina game. "I know my talent and I know I can make the throws and that's it. And I will."

Martinek, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury in the second game of the season, versus Florida International. He did play against North Carolina, but in a limited role, with just five carries for 30 yards.

"I thought Joe ran hard," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said earlier this week. "I know he is not 100 percent, but he is a gutsy guy."

Rutgers used its wildcat package extensively against North Carolina, with wideout Mohamed Sanu under center. It wasn't particularly effective last week, but don't be surprised if it is a major part of Rutgers' game plan again this week -- especially considering Savage isn't 100 percent.

Tulane comes in at 1-2 on the season, with a 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana, followed by a 27-13 loss to Ole Miss and a 42-23 loss at Houston. The Green Wave's starting quarterback, Ryan Griffin, is also banged up -- he suffered a sprained shoulder last week, but is expected to start on Saturday as well.

On defense, Tulane plays very agressive. "They blitz. They even blitz maybe a little more this year than they have [in the past]," Schiano said. "They are going to come after us. In the run game and the pass game, they bring people. It is going to be very important, up front, we do a better job of staying on our blocks."

Rutgers' defense, as opposed to its offense, is off to an excellent start this season. The Scarlet Knights are No. 2 in the country in points allowed per game, at 10.3 -- only top-ranked Alabama is better (9.8). The Scarlet Knights are also giving up only 12.3 first downs per game, which places them fourth in the country, behind only West Virginia, Iowa and Ohio State. And they've given up only one rushing touchdown on the year.

Special teams has been a strong point as well. The Scarlet Knights have blocked four punts, and are No. 2 in the country in return yards allowed per kickoff (14.1) -- only BYU is better (10.3).

So the pressure lies squarely on the Rutgers offense, along with Schiano -- this Saturday, and for the remainder of the season. Can they get it figured out?

The time to do so is now -- Big East play begins a week from today, when the Scarlet Knights host UConn.

The latest on Rutgers' Savage, Martinek

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
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At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano addressed the status of his starting quarterback, Tom Savage, who suffered a rib injury vs. North Carolina last Saturday.

"Tom did some stuff today," Schiano said. "I don't know. We are going to have to wait until later in the week. I think our trainers and doctors are doing a great job with him. I think Tom would agree. We will see. It will be later in the week before we know anything."

Savage remains optimistic that he will be able to play in Saturday's Homecoming game vs. Tulane (2 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com). If Savage can't, true freshman Chas Dodd will start at QB.

"We are confident in Chas if he has to go," Schiano said.

Meanwhile, starting running back Joe Martinek -- who was a game-time decision vs. North Carolina, but gutted it out -- is still banged up.

"He tweaked the [ankle]," Schiano said. "When you have a sprained ankle and you put it in that position that originally hurt it, it is going to tweak it again. That happened a couple times Saturday."

However, Schiano sounded optimistic that Martinek would again be able to play vs. Tulane.

"He is a tough kid," Schiano said. "He kept playing through it. I think what is going to happen is he is going to be sore after the games. As the week goes on, he is going to be better and as he does that it is going to get stronger every week unless he significantly re-injures it. That is our goal, to try and avoid significantly re-injuring it and let it heal each week."

Savage's status still up in air for Tulane

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
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On the Big East's weekly coaches' teleconference Monday morning, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said it remains to be seen whether starting quarterback Tom Savage will be able to play this coming Saturday against Tulane.

"He's getting a test today, so we'll probably know something by tomorrow," Schiano said.

Savage injured his ribs late in the first half Saturday in the Scarlet Knights' 17-13 loss to North Carolina. He missed just one series -- the first series of the second half -- while team doctors examined him, but he came back in after that and played the rest of the game.

Savage said after the game on Saturday that he would be able to play against Tulane, but Schiano said Savage was in a lot of pain, and they'd have to wait and see.

If Savage can't go, true freshman Chas Dodd would start at quarterback for Rutgers. Dodd went 0-for-2 in his one series against North Carolina.

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