Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin started the first five games at quarterback for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this season and freshman Johnathan Lewis saw some action too. But neither one completely looked like the answer for coach Chris Ash and company.
Rutgers started out 1-4 on the season, including an embarrassing loss to Eastern Michigan. However, the Scarlet Knights’ fortunes turned around ever since junior Giovanni Rescigno has taken over as their starting quarterback.
Since Rescigno became the main man under center, Rutgers is now on a two-game win streak with victories over Illinois and Purdue. While those two opponents may not be on Ohio State or Penn State’s level, it is still impressive to see the Scarlet Knights on a two-game B1G win streak. Lets be honest with ourselves quickly, did any of us see Rutgers having a conference win streak this year or in the near future? Probably not.
Rescigno may not wow you in the box score, but his intangibles mean a lot to this Scarlet Knight team. In his two starts this year, Rescigno has completed 14 of 28 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. But in those two games, he makes smart decisions. Rescigno doesn’t force passes into tight coverage and he avoids getting sacked.
If Rescigno is healthy enough to scramble — he wasn’t against Purdue because of a leg injury — then he is dangerous because he can run for first downs or throw on the run when the pocket collapses. However, Rescigno now faces his biggest challenge to date: the Michigan Wolverine defense.
Michigan possesses a championship caliber defense. On the year, the Wolverines’ defense is the No. 5 unit in the nation. Plus, the maize and blue are tied for 11th in the country with 22 sacks on the season. So, Michigan can definitely get after the quarterback.
Although this will obviously be the toughest defense Rescigno will face in his three starts, the Wolverines are beatable.
Penn State signal caller Trace McSorley did Trace McSorley things last weekend against Michigan and Michigan State Brian Lewerke was an excellent game manager earlier this year against the Wolverines in the Big House. And that is exactly what Rescigno is, a game manager.
Ever since he became Rutgers starting quarterback, the Scarlet Knights have changed up their offensive strategy.
He hasn’t given the Scarlet Knights a ton of help, throwing for 87 yards and a touchdown, but he didn’t turn the football over, either. Rescigno turned in similar numbers the week prior, attempting just 10 passes for 89 yards, but rushed seven times for 41 yards.
Rutgers is relying more on the running game and trying to eliminate turnovers. It’s worked well enough to pick up two wins in the last couple of games. In the victory against the Illini, the Scarlet Knights ran for 274 yards led by Gus Edwards’ 91 yards and two scores. Now, they did give up 474 yards to Purdue and only managed 217, but Edwards’ early 74-yard touchdown run sparked just enough offense to win.
Although Rescigno is the stereotypical game manager, I would describe him as a “gamer” as well. Someone Someone who raises his performance on gamedays because he plays with such physical toughness. And that is the type of quarterback Michigan should worry about. McSorley and Lewerke are gamers as well. Both are tough signal callers who will raise their games when needed.
On paper, Rescigno probably won’t scare the Michigan defense at all. He seems like the run of the mill type of quarterback. But Rescigno is 2-0 as the Scarlet Knights’ starting quarterback. So, if the Wolverines are not careful on Saturday, Rescigno could make them pay. If that happens, Rutgers will be on a three-game B1G win streak.