McLane Carter's first two Rutgers starts mirror Art Sitkowski's
In just his second start as the Rutgers football team’s quarterback, graduate student McLane Carter suffered a concussion, according to NJ Advance Media, in the final minutes of the first half in a 30-0 loss to No. 20 Iowa. He completed his first two starts as a Scarlet Knight (1-1) going 26-46, for 362 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
As a true freshman last season, sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski also suffered an injury in the final minutes of the first half of his second start in a 52-3 loss to Ohio State, finishing his second game 26-48, for 243 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
The two quarterback’s nearly identitical stat lines through their first two games is comparable to their similar hair colors, but contrasts their degree of experience and remaining years of eligibility. Carter, seen as the more experienced signal caller, won the starting job based on his superior performance in this year’s training camp, very similarly to how Sitkowski earned last year’s starting nod over alumnus Giovanni Rescigno.
McLane’s alleged experience came in his four seasons at three Texas-based programs prior to Rutgers, four seasons that saw him redshirt at Incarnate Word, throw for 30 touchdowns at Tyler JC and then make three starts across two seasons at Texas Tech.
Injury put a dent in what was supposed to be his full season as a starter in 2018 as a Red Raider, which brought him here to the Knights in what is once again supposed to be his season as the full-time starter over the sophomore Sitkowski.
Prior to Saturday, Carter never saw game action against a Big Ten opponent versus Sitkowski’s full season of Big Ten exposure from last year.
Would that exposure from last year have manifested into a better passing performance for Rutgers against the Hawkeyes?
It's a hard argument to make, considering Sitkowski did get in the game and was only able to manage four completions on 11 attempts for 19 yards and one interception. But, Sitkowski, who was recruited by head coach Chris Ash with the intent to make him the starter from day one, now has a full unsuccessful season behind him with a degree of experience in the conference. Carter doesn't have this experience.
Sitkowski has more starts under his belt against "Power 5" conference teams in general. Carter’s full season as the starter at Tyler JC only saw him face junior college opponents, and his three starts at Texas Tech came against teams in the Big 12 and SEC.
Meanwhile, Sitkowski made eight starts against Big Ten teams in his freshman season, losing all eight. While the decision to start Carter was by no means a resume contest and based more on his performance during training camp practices, the early-season results for the Knights have proven to be not much better than a graduate senior repeating Sitkowski’s freshman campaign.
In a week one press conference, offensive coordinator John McNulty claimed that the decision to start Sitkowski as a freshman last season was unfair and he was not ready. He also stated that transfer redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Langan was played in the garbage time minutes of Rutgers’ week one win against UMass over Sitkowski in attempt to preserve Sitkowski’s eligibility in a potential redshirt year.
If the coaching staff believed that Carter gave the team the best chance to win as the more experienced college quarterback, his results so far have not proven to be any better than a repeat of Sitkowski’s freshman season.
If their intent was to play Carter in a low-expectation year to grant Sitkowski a redshirt season and a chance to learn from the sidelines, then they have already stifled that plan by trotting him out in the second half of a blowout loss, burning one of his four games before the redshirt is rescinded.
With an upcoming bye week, Carter has plenty of time to recover from his concussion in time for the team’s game against Boston College. But even if Carter is available to for the team’s next game, is it even in the team’s short-term or long-term benefit to play the graduate senior? Can they expect Sitkowski to show improvement from a dreadful freshman season? Should they roll the dice of Langan in a showdown against his former team?
What exactly is the team’s plan at quarterback?
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