When Rutgers takes the field Saturday at Washington, Chris Laviano returns as its starting quarterback.
Same player, same number and same goals, but ask Laviano and you will not see the same guy.
Laviano's teammates deserved better than the effort he gave last season, he said, and they got it since coach Chris Ash took over the program.
“I feel like a completely different person, a completely different player now compared to last year,” Laviano said. “The things I'm doing on and off the field are night and day from last year. … My routine is consistent. I'm very consistent with my work ethic, and just basically trying to be a more level-headed person.”
Laviano won his teammates trust in the offseason, and it started with the weight room. The junior from Long Island added significant muscle and strength to his game.
“It's also going to make me a better player,” Laviano said. “[I am] faster, stronger. I have more zip on the ball. Coach Parker did a really good job developing me slowly through the summer and continuing through the fall. Even right now, we still lift a lot, even quarterbacks. I think it's going to help me a whole lot.
“...I obviously want to be the best player I can be. With the amount of work we do here and the kind of culture that coach Ash has instilled in this program, nobody wants to see it go to waste. Everybody is really anxious and excited for the season.”
While Laviano is the centerpiece of the offense, coordinator Drew Mehringer sees him as a game manager first.
“I think the biggest misnomer that a lot of people have about the quote-unquote spread offense or spread-formation offense is that it’s quarterback-centric — that he is the pass game, he is the run game, he is everything and that is not the case in our offense,” Mehringer said. “We believe in something called a distribution factor, where we want as many guys to touch the ball as possible. We look at the stat sheet in a game, eight or nine people have receptions. Three or four people, five people have rushes. That’s a good game for us in terms of our distribution numbers. Are we going to ask Chris Laviano to be the only person that’s going to make yards, make touchdowns, create points? Absolutely not, so I think … we’re going to use him as a game manager and as somebody that can get the ball to playmakers in space.”
How does Laviano feel a bout the new offense?
“I really don't care as long as we score points and we win to be completely honest with you,” he said.