As the struggles to move the ball and execute on offense continued for Rutgers in its 24-7 loss to Illinois, the Scarlet Knights staff decided to reconsider its options at quarterback.
Coach Chris Ash said Rutgers (2-5, 0-4) would reopen the competition up at the position completely in the next week of practice. After the Homecoming loss to the Fighting Illini (2-4, 1-2), the Scarlet Knights head to Minnesota (4-2, 1-2) next Saturday.
“That’s something we want to talk about — I think (Sunday) — in terms of who is involved in that competition,” said offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.
Rescigno was 10-of-18 for 120 yards with a touchdown, but he threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter. That went for a 75-yard touchdown return. On the ground, he took 12 carries for 37 yards.
Laviano was 7-of-12 for 62 yards through the air with seven attempts for 15 yards on the ground.
Outside of Rescigno’s 42-yard touchdown run against Howard in week two, it was the first extended game action of Rescigno’s career.
“I’ve been preparing the whole season,” Rescigno said. “Whenever my name was called, I’ve taken care of my reps in practice and I’ve been waiting for my chance. So when coach called my name, I was more than prepared to go in. So a perfect opportunity to go in the game.”
Although Ash cited a need for a spark when he chose to go with Rescigno in the third quarter, he said Rutgers is not at the point of no return with Laviano.
“We’ve reached the point where it’s an open competition,” Ash said. “We’ve got to look at doing something differently, whether it’s (Laviano) doing something differently or someone else has got to be in there, and we’re at that point.
“Chris has done a lot of good things and again, like I’ve said before, it’s not all on him. But again, a lot of times, you’ve got to have a quarterback there that people trust, and every now and then when things break down, can make something happen. And Gio was able to do that for us in the second half, and we’ll see if moving forward he can end up being the guy or if somebody else will, but he’ll be right in the mix.”
Mehringer echoed Ash’s sentiments on Rescigno. Mehringer also made a point on junior Zach Allen, who entered for Laviano in the first quarter last week against No. 4 Michigan.
“I think the thing that we’re always looking for — you get asked about style, you get asked about qualities that he has,” Mehringer said. “We’re looking for production and leadership. Gio came in and did a nice job in the second half. He had a good week of practice. He’s a selfless, conscientious kid. So when we go into tomorrow, Sunday, that’s something we’ll discuss.
“I don’t know if Zach Allen’s game reps from last week are a fair assessment of his abilities, but it’s going to be an open competition. (Rescigno) did some good things. He did some good things. But we’ll see (Sunday).”
True freshman Tylin Oden rounds out the top four in the mix. He burned his redshirt in week two against Howard before he entered for Laviano at No. 2 Ohio State in week five.
“Tylin’s got a lot of youth, and how much youth are you willing to go with and how much youth are willing to go with and play the rest of the games on your schedule?” Mehringer said. “That’s the question you have to answer. Are you willing to accept that, his youth? We all know that freshmen make mistakes, especially kids that are five months removed from prom.
“So from that standpoint, it’s something you have to weigh from all of those guys — what can they do and can they give us the best chance to win? So to answer to that question, I don’t know yet. I could tell you that probably later.”
As the quarterback competition unfolds when Rutgers returns to practice on Sunday, whom Ash and Mehringer will tap into for the start remains to be seen.
Rescigno, who was limited to practice reps until the full half of game reps against Illinois, said he always approaches preparation with a starter’s mentality.
“The same way I’ve always been approaching it,” Rescigno said. “No matter what, I’ve always treated every week of practice like I’m the start. You have to prepare like that or you won’t prepare at all in the game when you’re names called. So I’m going to keep doing that, going into next week and the rest of the season — to be prepared when my name’s called.”null