September 14, 2016

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers may have gotten a glimpse of the quarterback of the future in its one-sided win over Howard.

Based on the inconsistent performance of starter Chris Laviano, backup Tylin Oden may see more time in the present.

Oden made his debut in the fourth quarter, following the first collegiate experience of redshirt sophomore Giovanni Rescigno, who had one rush for a 42-yard touchdown. Oden had nine rushes for 59 yards, including a run of 30 yards.

While Laviano won the quarterback competition in coach Chris Ash's first training camp, Rescigno and Oden are better runners. That's a key component of the quarterback's play for offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer's power spread.

Mehringer said Laviano played OK Saturday in the 52-14 win. He went 11 of 22 for 137 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while carrying the ball seven times for 39 yards.

There was room for improvement. Mehringer was not happy with the interception on Rutgers' first offensive play and a 14-yard loss on a third down sack in the second quarter with the game tied at 14.

''If he cleans those parts up, he plays a decent game,'' Mehringer said.

It was not a ringing endorsement for Laviano, who was the Scarlet Knights' starter last year under head coach Kyle Flood.

However, neither Rescigno nor Oden has attempted a pass, and Mehringer said both need to make significant improvements in the passing game.

Oden is the more athletic and faster than Rescigno. The Columbia, Tennessee, native showed flashes in getting his first action Saturday.

''Obviously this is not a little town just south of Nashville, Tennessee,'' Mehringer said. ''He went in there and did a nice job. Just wanted to see how he'd do in a bigger environment and I thought he did pretty well.''

So does that mean he'll play more going forward?

''I don't know honestly,'' Mehringer said. ''You want to prepare I think for the best chance for our offense and for our team to win, whatever that may look like.''

That could be a two-quarterback system with Laviano rotating with Rescigno and/or Oden.

''I'm 100 percent comfortable with that,'' Laviano said. ''Those guys have talent running the ball. Any way we can get our playmakers in space with the ball, I'm all for. If it's best for the team, it's best for the team.''

The threat of a mobile quarterback expands the playbook for the power spread, but Rescigno and Oden also have to show they can throw the ball.

''Ideally you'd love to have Cam Newton back there who can do everything and be just like `hey, you just do you and we'll figure everything else out,''' Mehringer said, adding, ''if Tom Brady walked in the room, I think we'd all be pretty excited, too, and he can't run out of this room right now, so I think we're looking for the best player that gives us the best chance to win. I know that feels a little like a little bit of a cop-out answer, but it's not. When we started the games, I thought Chris gave us the best opportunity to win for four quarters and those two are just a little bit different football players.''

However, the fact that Ash was willing to burn Oden's redshirt is telling. He is going to play more.

''We had conversations throughout training camp, what are we going to do with Tylin and as he's continued to improve and progress,'' Ash said. ''He's a guy that fits our offense and when we get the opportunity to get him in there, we're going to get him in there.''


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