Drew Mehringer's Rutgers offense meant adjustments for everyone, but no one faced a bigger change than Chris Laviano. With four starts under his belt as a spread quarterback, the junior numbers show mixed results.
Laviano has five touchdowns to two interceptions and a fumble. His 52-percent completion rate and 161.75 yards per game are down from a year ago, when he completed 61 percent of his passes and averaged 187.25 yards.
“Obviously, there are plays that you don’t make and there are plays that you make,” Laviano said. “And obviously, you want to make more good plays than bad. It’s just a matter of executing.”
Mehringer said Laviano was Rutgers’ quarterback after the 14-7 loss to Iowa last Saturday.
He reaffirmed those thoughts two days later in his weekly press conference, but emphasized the need for Laviano to improve further to the staff’s standards.
“The word that I would use is improving,” Mehringer said. “… I’ll probably get blasted again on Twitter for defending Chris Laviano, but he is our quarterback. And that’s fine. I’m good with that. He’s getting better week-to-week.
“Is he where we want him? No. You look at the flip that he’s been asked to do and what, from a scheme standpoint. Do we want him to be better? Absolutely. And for all those guys in that room, we’re going to play the best player. And who is that going to be? And so far, it’s been Chris.”
Mehringer analyzed some of Laviano’s struggles.
“He’s been a little high (on throws), in terms of the completion percentage,” Mehringer said. “You look at some of the accuracy problems and that’s something that has got to be constantly addressed and certainly is not up to standards. … It’s something that I could be doing. It’s something that we’re evaluating, I think, on a day-to-day basis with him and with all those (quarterbacks).”
Things don’t get easier for Laviano this week. Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) head to Columbus this week for its first road game in Big Ten play against No. 2 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0). The Buckeyes defense has nine interceptions on the season — four for touchdowns.
“They’re big, they’re a very talented team, they played well in the Oklahoma game,” Laviano said of the Ohio State defense. “We’re kind of just excited to keep the ball rolling this week and dive in more and more throughout the week in the film and just get ready for them on Saturday.”
One of the minds behind that scheme is Greg Schiano, whom Ohio State hired as a co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach in the offseason.
Laviano received his Rutgers offer from Schiano when he was still the head coach at Rutgers in 2011.
“I really liked coach Schiano when he was here and I was in high school,” Laviano said. “Obviously, I haven’t seen him in a while. But he coaches a good defense over there and I’m excited to play him.
“(The offer) was exciting. That was when (Mohamed) Sanu was here and Chas (Dodd) was the quarterback. I can remember walking around campus at that time. Coach Schiano is very high tempo in his practices and it was exciting to walk around and watch coach (Schiano) and stuff like that. So that’s kind of what I remember.”null