Sports

Freshman Dodd Will Start For Rutgers

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — There isn’t a quarterback controversy at Rutgers … for now.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano named true freshman Chas Dodd his starting quarterback Monday for Saturday’s game against Army (4-2) at New Meadowlands Stadium, but pointed to sophomore Tom Savage’s hand injury as one of the reasons for the decision.

“Chas is going to start,” Schiano said following practice Monday. “Tom is not well and Chas played very well, so Chas will start the game. I hope that Tom is healthy to practice some this week and then it’s a week-to-week thing.”

Schiano declined to say whether Dodd, who threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in last Friday’s 27-24 win over Connecticut, would be the starter once Savage is healthy enough to return from the hand injury he sustained in the Oct. 2 loss to Tulane.

“I’ll address that (decision) when the time comes because circumstances change,” said Schiano, who added that he’s “hoping” Savage will be available in a backup role Saturday if Dodd is injured.

“I think he was (available) Friday night, although it would’ve been very painful,” Schiano said of Savage, who had played in 16 of Rutgers’ previous 17 games before Dodd made his first collegiate start in the Big East opener vs. the Huskies.

“Hopefully he’ll be able to get some practice reps this week that will allow him to be a little more available.”

Dodd said he is “excited” for his second start. On Monday, he was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week.

“I’m just practicing this week, preparing and focusing on Army,” Dodd said. “I didn’t know I was going to come in (and play right away). I was just going to come in and prepare as if something like this did happen. That’s what I’ve been focusing on. So when I got called on, I was ready.”

The 6-foot, 197-pound Dodd ranks among the leaders in South Carolina high school football history in both career passing yardage (10,292) and touchdowns (81). But despite throwing for 4,163 yards and 51 touchdowns in leading Byrnes High to a 13-2 record last fall, Dodd’s only major scholarship offer came from Rutgers (3-2).

“I had one more offer from Georgia Southern after Rutgers offered me, but I didn’t really get that much more interest really,” said Dodd, a Lyman, S.C., native whose high school games would routinely be televised both locally and nationally.

“I think it definitely helps give me some confidence as far as the level that we played on in high school,” he said. “And getting to play some ESPN games gave me a little more confidence playing big-time games like this.”

Schiano said Dodd’s maturity and poise are rare for typical 18-year old freshmen.

“He’s done it before, maybe not at the Division I college level, but he comes from a real big-time high school football program where there’s a lot of attention,” Schiano said. “It’s very much like a college program and he ran the show there for three years, and led his team to state championships. I think he’s a guy that’s a little bit more mature than maybe his age when it comes to playing this game and leading an offense.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.