The truth of it is, Rutherford has never been given a true opportunity to play quarterback at Pitt – until now. Over his first two seasons, Rutherford was given little chance to throw the ball, and to some fans, that translated to mean that he can't.
But he can, as seen early on this season. This is his team now, and he's finally getting a chance to be that player that many believe a quarterback should be.
Last season Rutherford was used in short-yardage situations because he could run the ball with much greater ability than starter David Priestley. In most games, Rutherford has more carries than pass attempts.
But look at the one game where Rutherford had a considerably greater amount of pass attempts than rushes – at home against Miami. Rutherford completed 7 of 17 passes that game for 111 yards and a touchdown. It was the only game all season that he had more than 9 pass attempts, but isn't it funny that when he's given the chance to throw the ball, he can produce.
Those numbers might not be Heisman Trophy material, but they are productive and especially so when coming against the Hurricanes, the team that would go on to win the national championship.
But Rutherford's ability was stifled the rest of the season. He was never given a chance to break out, and this season will be his time to do so. With the opportunity to be a complete quarterback, there's no doubt in my mind that he will be effective.