Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 21, 2015
Two years, two 25-point comebacks for Rutgers. It?s enough to make Rutgers? QB Chris Laviano shake his head.
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Gary Nova engineered last year?s epic rally at Maryland. This year, it was Laviano doing the honors in a wild 55-52 victory at Indiana that the Scarlet Knights capped with a last-second field goal. The 6-3, 210-pound sophomore from Glen Head, N.Y., completed 28-of-42 passes for 386 yards with three touchdowns and a pick, setting up the game-winning 26-yard field goal on a 13-play, 59-yard drive as time expired.
The Rutgers? offense has been excelling all season, ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring (34.3 ppg), No. 3 in rushing (199.2 ypg) and No. 5 in passing (249.7 ypg). And Laviano deserves credit for keeping the engine rolling for a RU squad that is 3-3 entering the homestretch of the season vs. a tough schedule. Laviano is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, hitting 69 percent of his attempts for 1,388 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
No. 1 Ohio State visits Piscataway this Saturday. That?s followed by visits to Wisconsin and Michigan and a home game vs. Nebraska. The season finishes with a trip to Army and visit from Maryland. Can the Scarlet Knights get bowl eligible for a 10th time in 11 years?
I caught up Laviano as he was coming off the practice field on Wednesday.
Q: What has been the key to the offense clicking?
A: Probably our execution in key situations. Just executing well when coach calls certain plays.
Q: You were competing for the job in camp with LSU transfer Hayden Rettig. What gave you an edge?
A: I was leading and just knowing the playbook. I am pretty good at managing situations and the game, and knowing my stuff all the time. I stay on top of any mental notes I have.
Q: What do you want to improve at?
A: I want to get better at reading defenses, seeing things pre-snap and post-snap. And stepping up in big moments in a game.
Q: What has first-year offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels brought to the offense after taking over for Ralph Friedgen?
A: He has been great. He pushes us hard and is very strict with us and harps on pivotal details in practice. He is really hard on us in practice which in a sense will make it easier in the game because we are used to strict detail with every single play.
Q: What?s it like throwing to Leonte Carroo?
A: He makes my job a lot easier. He is just so reliable in one-on-one coverage. He really can?t be stopped, to be honest.
Q: Does he have a favorite route?
A: He runs every route great. His big advantage is speed. He gets on top of DBs ? it makes my eyes blowup.
Q: How key is it to have a strong ground game?
A: I think in the games that we have succeeded we have been able to run the ball effectively. People don?t realize how important that is, especially for a quarterback in a pro-style offense. You have to be able to run the ball because we have a variety of passing options. I really appreciate it when the back and o-line are clicking.
Q: Do you stay in touch with Gary Nova?
A: He is one of my closest friends. He gives great advice and is always there before and after games. We probably talk at least once a week about football mostly. After a game, we?ll just talk about how things are going. He knows how serious it is and how focused you have to be and we are as a team.
Q: What was going through your head last week when you were losing by 25 points?
A: I think we had such a good week in practice ? we were doing some good things offensively in the game and we couldn?t see our team folding. We had good energy and things just went our way. As soon as we got back in the game, we stepped up and capitalized and led the game-winning drive.
Q: Can you knock off Ohio State, which is No. 1 and riding a 20-game winning streak?
A: We will see Saturday. It?s a great opportunity.
Q: What is it like to have Kyle Flood back?
A: It is incredible. You can really see the difference in energy when he is around. He just makes everyone play better. He is great to have on the sideline during games-just around the facilities and stuff.
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