After a promising 4-2 start to the 2010 campaign, Rutgers dropped the last six games in a row to finish 4-8 and miss the post season. The high point of the season was a 27-24 win over eventual Big East champ, UConn. The offense failed the Scarlet Knights in half of their eight losses. In the four close losses (North Carolina, Tulane, USF, and Syracuse), Rutgers was outscored by a combined 11 points. However, even in four wins, the Scarlet Knights were only comfortable in beating FCS Norfolk State, 31-0. The wins against FIU, UConn and Army were also only by a combined 11 points. That's a razor thin margin of error.
The offense in the Scarlet-White spring game on April 30 looked like it will be improved this season over the 20.8 points per game from 2010. At halftime, Scarlet led White 14-7. Last year, the final score of the spring game was 16-7. Yesterday, the Scarlet defeated the White 31-14 (check out the highlights here). So what was different this year?
Chas Dodd was highly efficient passing going 27/35 for 289 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. His backup, Steve Shimko, was not: 13/17 for 183 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. On his first interception, Shimko tried to force the ball to the endzone and didn't have enough arm to get the ball to his open receiver. Patrick Kivlehan intercepted the ball at the one yard line and impressively returned it to the 50. Dodd's Positive Impact Factor (PIF) rating (What's this?) for the spring game was a 55.6. Last season Dodd finished 93rd out of 130 qualified quarterbacks in the FBS with a 37.6. Shimko's spring game PIF was a -67.6. The fact that Dodd was the only quarterback to take a sack in the game (and it was only one) should come as a relief to Rutgers fans who saw their quarterbacks sacked close to five times a game last year.
De'Antwan Williams and Jawan Jamison both scored rushing touchdowns in the spring game and both also rushed for more than four yards a carry. The real breakout player to me was redshirt Freshman Brandon Coleman. Coleman caught a pair of touchdowns from Dodd and three other passes for a total of 78 receiving yards. He's a huge target at 6'6" but Coleman can also motor and is not afraid to block or make catches over the middle of the field. He showed a little bit of everything during the spring game and is certainly a player to watch during the upcoming season.
For more on the Rutgers Scarlet-White game, check out On The Banks.