PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Red-shirt freshman tight end Paul Carrezola will not judge his success in Saturday’s scrimmage on the number of passes he catches, but rather on everything else.
Rutgers’ season opener Sept. 2 against Norfolk State remains nearly three weeks away, but how the depth chart begins to shake out will begin with the first scrimmage of training camp.
Carrezola is competing with D.C. Jefferson for a starting spot, and he can set a solid foundation with a strong scrimmage performance.
“I want to be physical at the point of attack when it comes to blocking,” Carrezola said. “I want to get my assignments right, I want to run the right routes, (have) precision in my routes, get in and out of my breaks quick, catch the ball.”
Carrezola’s is coming off a frustrating but productive red-shirt season in which hamstring and back injuries negated his ability to play as a true freshman.
However, what bummed him out in 2009 is helping him excel in the first week of training camp as the 2010 season approaches.
“My frame of mind this year compared to last year is so much different because last year when I was hurt there was a point in time where I was real down about it,” the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Carrezola said. “I wanted to be out there performing the best I could, and I couldn’t really do that. I was hurting, in general.
“Now, I feel so much more confident about everything learning-wise, and so much more confident in everything I do, so I’m doing things better and my mindset is much fresher than it was before.”
Carrezola is also making the adjustment to being a reliable blocker, and is finding out strength and athleticism need to be combined with proper technique for success to be achieved.
“I would say right now my pass catching is ahead because that’s more natural ability,” he said. “It’s running getting open, being active and catching the ball. But blocking-wise, I’m getting all my footwork down and now I’m starting to become more physical.
“It’s starting to come more natural, but you can’t just go out there and start throwing people around like you can do in high school.”
Lauding the defense
Rutgers defense is expected to be very good, and no one knows that better than sophomore quarterback Tom Savage. He challenged every day by the first defense.
“Those guys are unbelievable,” Savage said. “They’re unreal out there. They’re quick, they’re strong, they’re fast. It’s everything you want in a defense, and everything you don’t want as a quarterback in a defense.”
Still, the defense is giving Savage the looks he need to prepare for the season, and he is seeing progress in several key areas.
“I think with consistency I’ve been doing a lot better,” Savage said. “I’m making the right protection calls and I’m making the right reads out there.”
The loss of red-shirt sophomore Tim Wright to a season-ending knee injury leaves more doubt within the receiving corps, but it also creates opportunity as Jeremy Deering, J.T. Tartacoff and Jawaun Wynn compete for playing time.
“It’s a really unfortunate injury and it really stinks because of the performance he was having, but we’ve got to keep moving,” Savage said. “Great programs have depth and you’ve got to be able to keep moving on and keep improving.”