It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the season but Rutgers is sitting at 2-4 through the midpoint of 2016. Probably the biggest question heading into the season was if Chris Laviano would be any better and how the quarterback play would be in general.
Six games is a pretty good sample size and there are a couple of things we learned about the quarterback. However, for me, they all fall under one blazing hot take: Chris Laviano is the best quarterback on the team.
Call me an idiot, tell me to hop off Laviano’s jock, ask me how much he paid me to write this. If you cannot accept this fact, though, you need to have a long sit down with the 2016 game film and try to tell me otherwise.
With that being said, this does not mean he is good quarterback. In fact, he has been playing very poorly this year. However, none of the quarterbacks on the roster are B1G caliber right now.
Zach Allen, the quarterback many fans thought would be the starter when he transferred, has had his fair share to prove he is better than Laviano in real games. He has been awful. He had one nice play and it was a run on 3rd down against Michigan. He had the first down but took a hit and fumbled the ball. Say what you want about Chris Laviano and how he hasn’t been able to move the offense, but the last time he turned the ball over was when he threw an interception against Howard in the second game of the season. He played the whole game against New Mexico, the whole game against Iowa, more than half the game at Ohio State, and part of the game against Michigan, all without an interception or fumble. We also saw Zach Allen attempt a pass and in all honesty, it was one of the worst throws I’ve ever seen a Rutgers QB make. It was thrown to no one, but he was clearly trying to throw it to no one. He simply can’t throw the ball at a sufficient level.
Gio Rescigno, who had an electric TD run against Howard, has not played since. That actually surprises me, since I think he is better than Allen. However, like Allen, he has severe limitations throwing the football. He just doesn’t have enough arm strength to make the throws necessary.
Tylin Oden, who surprisingly did not see the field against Michigan, has looked like the second-best QB on the team thus far but that is purely because of his running ability. Right now, he is not big enough to take hits on multiple plays every drive. He doesn’t have the physicality to play every down. Additionally, he can’t really throw the ball. He attempted on pass downfield against Iowa and it may have actually landed in Iowa. He had two shorter passes that were dropped, which were passes that Chris Laviano has struggled to make. However, he is simply too raw to be the full-time starter or to play extended time. The good news is that we can see his potential in this offense and that the coaching staff is trying to safely groom him to be the starter next year once he puts about 25 pounds onto his frame.
Now onto the most controversial player on Rutgers since, well, the last starting QB, Gary Nova. Chris Laviano is simply not fit to run this offense. He can get tough yards running, but is not very fast. Throwing the ball, he is less than stellar in all areas. What is most appalling to me is how he consistently miss-fires check down passes and intermediate routes. There is no excuse for that. He is a square peg in a round hole but is our best option since he doesn’t really turn the ball over, knows the playbook better than anyone, and no other QB can really make the argument that they can throw better than him.
As fans, we need to face reality and that is that we will not be seeing good quarterbacking this season. Laviano has been bad so far, but everyone else is worse. Janarion Grant isn’t even healthy to run the wildcat so we are stuck with a rotation of mediocrity. That is simply part of the process. We need to allow time for Chris Ash and Drew Mehringer to get their players that fit this offense.
So there is my statement on Chris Laviano being the best QB on the team, but here is my hottest take to date: Tylin Oden should start against Illinois.
Yes, I know I said he should not be the full-time starter, but that does not mean he shouldn’t get to go out on the first series against another bad team and test the waters as a B1G starter. Even if he goes 3-and-out and Laviano comes in for the next few drives, I can’t see this backfiring. If Chris Ash felt safe playing him against Iowa’s defense, I don’t see why he won’t give him time against Illinois. This team has been physically and mentally abused the past 2 games and they need a spark of offense with Janarion Grant out for the year. That spark could be Oden coming in and running loose on an unsuspecting Illinois defense. I don’t want him playing every down of the game, but who wouldn’t love to see him get the start. The only downside is injury, but once again, if he is trusted to play a drive or two against Iowa, playing against Illinois will be nothing to him.