PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers coach Greg Schiano would usually bristle at any questions suggesting a quarterback controversy on his team.
But considering that circumstances have been anything but typical since Eric LeGrand suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury in an Oct. 16 game against Army, Schiano didn’t seem to mind the change of subject to football.
Schiano didn’t field any specific questions on his injured junior defensive tackle. But Rutgers spokesman Jason Baum said there was nothing to update on LeGrand, who remains paralyzed from the neck down and under the care of doctors at Hackensack University Medical Center.
With his team idle until a Nov. 3 meeting at South Florida, Schiano said Wednesday’s practice was different in that it didn’t focus on an upcoming opponent.
“It was not a practice dedicated to any scheme at all,” said Schiano, whose team stands at 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Big East play. “It was strictly about things we felt we need to get better at.”
Unlike last week, when the focus around Rutgers football practice dealt with how the players would cope in the wake of LeGrand’s catastrophic injury, the Scarlet Knights’ first session following a two-day layoff had the look of a normal midweek practice.
That meant a spirited practice in which Schiano’s voice periodically went to a higher octave, and it meant questions afterward about who would start at quarterback.
Schiano, who won’t announce his starting quarterback until his team begins its preparation for USF in earnest Saturday, has started freshman Chas Dodd the past three games after injuries put sophomore Tom Savage on the shelf in early October.
But with Savage healthy for the first time since injuring his throwing hand in an Oct. 2 loss to Tulane, Schiano now has a decision to make.
Does he start Dodd, who rallied Rutgers to consecutive victories over Connecticut and Army before struggling in a 41-21 loss at Pitt? Or does he play Savage, who had shown glimpses of stardom last season before posting the Big East’s worst pass efficiency rating through Rutgers’ 2-2 start this fall?
“Who gives us the best chance to win?,” Schiano said. Asked whether he’d be opposed to playing both, Schiano said he wasn’t sure.
For now, neither Dodd or Savage seem fazed by the uncertainty.
“I’m just preparing as if I’m going to have the starting job,” Dodd said. “Both of us do that. And that only makes us both better.”
Savage added that an offense that currently ranks 109th nationally in total yards can benefit from a quarterback competition.
“It always helps because we’re constantly pushing each other,” Savage said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a fifth-year senior, if a guy’s going to push you, he’s going to push you. You gotta compete. That’s all it is. Coach obviously knows what’s best for the team, and he’s going to make the decision.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.