Rutgers quarterback group put on show in spring game
With the annual Scarlet-White game in the books and the Rutgers football team’s offseason now in an interesting but familiar spot, head coach Chris Ash and his coaching staff have a lot of work to do this summer in hopes of competing this fall.
After ending the game tied at 132, there were certainly points on both sides of the ball that needed to be addressed and will need to be once summer training commences.
But, none were more glaring than the quarterback carousel, which appears to be a likely sprint to the finish line. Although Ash put out all six of the quarterbacks on the roster, he really sees the spot at the top of the depth chart as a three-man race.
“It’s three guys that are competing with the 1’s, between Gio, Art and Jonathan Lewis,” Ash said. “All three of those guys have gotten the reps with the 1’s here this spring.”
Here are four observations of the quarterbacks that stood out at the Scarlet-White game.
Sitkowski has the arm to really throw the football
You couldn’t have drawn up a better sequence between freshman Artur Sitkowski and sophomore wide receiver Bo Melton, on a throw that turned into a 75-yard touchdown.
Sitkowski, who left high school early to join the Scarlet Knights for spring practices, put on a show in his debut in front of fans at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday. The 75-yard connection to Melton was 1 of 3 on the day between the two, in what may have been a preview for the fall. Sitkowski finished the game with 11 completions on 24 attempts, good for 280 yards and the 3 touchdowns to Melton.
It was a shocking display for someone who should still be in high school, and to do so his first time in front of thousands of fans? Mind-boggling. But, Sitkowski did show that he is still raw and has some maturing to do, as he threw two sloppy interceptions that instead could have just been taken for sacks — Sitkowski was also sacked three times on the day, the most of any quarterback.
Lewis looks like he needs more time
Already familiar with the Rutgers faithful after putting in time on the field last season, you would have expected to see a bit more out of sophomore Johnathan Lewis. While Ash cited Lewis as 1 of 3 guys being looked at as top choices for starting quarterback come September, Lewis was given significantly less time on the field than Sitkowski and fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno.
Lewis went 4-for-10 for 19 yards. Throwing 40 percent from the field in a scrimmage does not look promising for someone who, according to his head coach, has the potential to start for a Big Ten school. Last season, Lewis showed promise, but still looked like he needed some more “fine tuning.” Appearing in seven games, Lewis completed just 37 percent of his passes for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. He will need to improve significantly this summer if he hopes to hear his number called first in the fall.
Flacco has some wheels on his feet
Someone who is both under the radar on the team but one of the bigger names off of it, junior quarterback Tom Flacco made his debut in front of the Knights’ faithful on Saturday as well, after transferring from Western Michigan in the summer and being ineligible to play last season due to NCAA transfer regulation rules. Flacco is also the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco. So, you could say the pressure is on for him.
Flacco put on a show for the fans on Saturday, going 8-for-10 for 73 yards — albeit with an interception in the mix. But it wasn’t Flacco’s arm that stole the show, it was his legs. When he wasn’t set to throw the ball, he was running with it.
Flacco led the team in rushing on the day — if you don’t include four-year-old Mordechai Carthy’s program record 93-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game for the Scarlet side in the waning seconds of the game. Flacco ran four times for 25 yards, most notably an 18-yard run that resulted in a touchdown.
Although his name wasn’t mentioned by Ash as a potential guy to lead the team just yet, he certainly put in the work and effort to, at the very least, make a case for himself.
Rescigno will probably be the starter on September 1
At the end of the day, you have a fifth-year senior in Gio Rescigno who has been with the team the longest, got a lot of reps on Saturday and produced well at the same time. Rescigno knows the system and seems most likely to be named the starter by Ash during summer training.
Rescigno went 9-for-19 for 87 yards on Saturday, a solid performance that almost seemed like a formality for the quarterback. He started the most games of any quarterback last season (seven) while throwing just one interception over the span of nine games.
He ended the season going 47-for-100 for 517 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not staggering numbers by any means, but between him and Lewis coming back from last season, and Flacco and Sitkowski still too raw to start as of spring practices, we will have to see how the summer goes. But, Rescigno looks destined to be the starting quarterback for Rutgers this fall.