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What is the QB Situation at Rutgers this Spring?

Offensive coordinator Jerry Kill breaks down the position battle.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Maryland
Giovanni Rescigno (17) throws a pass against the Terrapins 11/26/2016
Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Well, spring practices are underway, and Offensive Coordinator Jerry Kill spoke with the press this past weekend to discuss the offensive situation, particularly with the quarterbacks. It didn’t take long for the fans to start asking if there was a QB controversy. All it took was Zach Allen being the first of the quarterback group doing stretches the first day for the murmuring to begin. Head Coach Chris Ash saw this as humorous, and insisted that there was no favorite, that all three prospective starters (Zach Allen, Tylin Oden, Gio Rescigno) have an even playing field. Despite that, Coach Ash noted that Gio is doing all he can to keep the starting job he won during the season last year in a disappointing 2-10 campaign.

In his first meeting with the press since practice began, Coach Kill said it was obvious that Gio had the most game experience based upon his moves. I have to admit up front, that I love Coach Kill’s slow delivery with his Kansas accent, he always seems at ease and totally relaxed.

“Well, you know, again, not being here and knowing all those things, there’s no question that he played more, which he has, it’s easier for him, because he’s been on the field more, and I should be.”

One reporter asked, “What do you need to see from Tylin Oden…?” Coach Kill was clear in his expectations:

“Well, I think he has to learn...the knowledge of the game. You know, last year he was a freshman, and my understanding, I mean, it’s hard for freshmen to come in, I mean he’s growing up, he needs to mature. I think he’s matured over the last… even since I’ve been here here, maybe over the last three weeks he’s really locked into what he’s doing and learning football, and you know, he hasn’t made a lot of mental mistakes.”

When it comes to evaluating the quarterbacks, how much weight does Coach Kill place on spring performance? It is important, as he says himself: “A whole lot of weight. To me, when you play quarterback, you need to play a guy who can make decisions and you have to be consistent…so we need to see how consistent they are by day fifteen.”

One point he mentioned several times is a part of the game everyone saw needed to improve last season, and that is the fundamentals. It looks like that will be a large part of the work being done this spring. However, he has seen pieces of each QB that he likes.

With Gio, Coach Kill was surprised that he can run as well as he does. Even Rescigno himself has stated that he knows he runs with an unusual gait, which deceptively looks like he is unable to run fast. That could be a real advantage.

Indiana v Rutgers
Giovanni Rescigno (17) runs against the Indiana 11/05/2017
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tylin, to no one’s surprise, is able to run well, but Coach Kill noted that his throwing has improved since last season. That is certainly good news, as his inability to pass well limited his effectiveness on the field. Opponents knew that he would run almost every play, which enables the defense to key on him. A strong passing game will open up the field, and make running more effective when Oden is under center.

Rutgers v Michigan State
Tylin Oden leaps through the hands of Spartan DE Justice Alexander 11/12/2016
Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Zach Allen has “made good decisions,” according to the new OC.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers
Zach Allen throwing against Michigan 10/08/2016
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

And of course the wild card, who is not present at camp this spring as he finishes up his senior year of high school, Jonathan Lewis. Kill stressed they speak regularly, Lewis comes to observe at practices when he can but the coaching staff want to be sure that Lewis finishes his senior year classes well. Coach Kill feels he and Jonathan have a good relationship, and while he wishes Lewis was there for the spring, is excited about really connecting with him when he arrives on campus in June. If you’re looking to see some of his highlights, check these out.

Will Lewis’ August arrival hurt his chances to start this fall? It is difficult to say, as all that is being said is that the best player will be put on the field in September. In the coach’s own Kansas accent, it works better than reading it, but simply put, “If it’s my wife, and she’s the best player, then we’ll play her.” When asked if she’s eligible to play, Coach Kill responded with a twinkle in his eye, “She might have a redshirt year.”

(Rebecca Kill’s highlight video not available)

So, who will get the nod? Let’s allow Coach Kill to answer that himself:

“We’re going to put the best player on the field in the end that is the consistent guy, who don’t turn over the football, moves the chains, and takes command of what we’re trying to do.” Amen to that!

If you’d like to see the entire video of Coach Kill with the press, it is below.