Rutgers Looks to Rebound
Against Howard University

Tom Savage will likely lead the Scarlet Knights for the next four years (Photo by Jim O'Connor, US Presswire)

Scarlet Knights Host the Bison this Saturday

Piscataway, N.J. (Thursday, September 10, 2009) – At first glimpse, it could be hard for Rutgers fans to take away too many positives from the disappointing 47-15 loss to defending Big East champion Cincinnati this past Monday evening. While it takes a little bit of visualization, there are quite a few things that happened in the game that should send excitement throughout the Garden State.

The first thing that Scarlet Knight fans can take away from the season opener is that the team likely has found the man who will take the snaps under center for the next four years in true freshman Tom Savage. The heavily-recruited 19-year-old native of Springfield, Pennsylvania, needed only a three-interception performance in the first half from fifth-year senior Dom Natale to officially kick start his college career after a prolific high school run at Cardinal O’Hara (Penn.) High School.

Natale had waited four years behind Mike Teel to finally get the nod from Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, but the bad outing on Monday has likely ended his chance of being a difference-maker on the field for the Scarlet Knights. At the conclusion of practice on Wednesday, Schiano officially named Savage the starter for Rutgers this Saturday when they host Howard University.

"It's definitely going to be different," Savage said after being named the starter. "I'm just doing what coach tells me to do. He says go out there, I'm going to go out there."

While the disappointment of losing the starting gig has to be tough on Natale after waiting so long for his shot, the Sea Girt, New Jersey, native can still play a significant role in the growth of Savage. After all, he has been at Rutgers for their most successful four-year run in the 143-year history of college football at the institution.

"I'm just going to keep going," Natale remarked at practice yesterday. "It's not easy. At the same time, when Tom has questions, I'll answer them. We're all on the same team here."

Two other bright spots that emerged from the loss on Monday also possess a lot of youth within them. True freshman wideout Mohammed Sanu led all Rutgers receivers with 10 receptions for 101 yards, and thoughts of a four-year connection from Savage to Sanu should have fans of the Scarlet Knights churning with excitement. Also, in the Rutgers offensive backfield, two sophomore tailbacks look to carry the load for the team and will accommodate the smash mouth theme that Schiano will likely induce while his young quarterback develops. North Jersey native Joe Martinek ran for 54 tough yards and a touchdown to lead the rushing attack, and Jourdan Brooks will also play a prominent role in the running game this season. Both backs are better than six feet and 215 pounds in stature.

It may take a little bit of repetition to learn the names of your new standouts, Rutgers fans, but don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet. You have a lot to be excited about, and it looks like that excitement is going to gain a lot more momentum as we go.

Rutgers and Howard square off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway.

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