In football, it's said that when a team has two quarterbacks, it often has none. Well, what happens when a team has four of them?
Junior Chris Laviano remains the guy at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights are no longer a team that stick with a starter no matter what. Offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer worked in two other quarterbacks against Howard in a blowout situation. Against New Mexico, Mehringer and coach Chris Ash pulled a quarterback for performance reasons for the first time.
“I obviously put Zach Allen in for a series in the second half, and it was more to calm Chris down,” Ash said after the 37-28 victory. “We thought there were a lot of throws on the field for us to get and he missed them and he just was going through a bad stretch in the second half. We needed to pull him out and just get his mind right and give Zach a chance to go in and see what he can do, and we ended up putting Chris back in the game.”
Allen, the TCU transfer, debuted for Rutgers on a drive where he threw two incomplete passes. The first came against a heavy pass rush. The second was an overthrown pass to John Tsimis that could have meant six points.
“It felt good,” Allen said on his debut. “I wish the outcome was better. I have to be more consistent, but it was fun being out there again in a competitive game and playing against a good team. The defense was really good. They played really well against us. We had a lot of answers, we just didn't do what we needed to do the whole time.”
The significance of Allen's appearance is not his performance but the fact that Rutgers pulled Laviano to “get his mind right.”
The move worked with a solid finish for Rutgers and the victory.
“You're trying to do your best every week,” Allen said. “I just had a good week with going through all of the reads, throwing the ball, running the ball, doing everything I needed to do to have an opportunity to go out and play today.”
Laviano picks up his second victory of the year as the starting quarterback. Not his most productive game, the junior complete just 11 of 27 passes for 152 yards. Half of those yards came on a career-long pass to receiver Jay Harris.
The positive? Laviano went turnover free for the first time this season.
“We have to get more consistent,” Laviano said. “Honestly, all it comes down to is one or two plays. Whether that's me or anybody else, we have to stay more consistent, especially in the beginning.”