Questions from the Other Side: Rutgers football beat writer Brian Fonseca

Jack White

For this weekly column, the Daily will interview someone knowledgeable about Minnesota’s next opponent. Brian Fonseca, the sports editor for Rutgers’ student newspaper the Daily Targum, was interviewed this week.

Fonseca is a junior at Rutgers University. He has covered Scarlet Knights football since January as a beat writer.

Q: What has led to Rutgers’ struggles?

A: [Chris Ash] has done well in his first ten months or so of turning the program around, but the reality is his predecessor, Kyle Flood. In his three years as a head coach, [he] didn’t do a good job of recruiting and as a result of that, the team is not very deep. They lost all three starting linebackers to graduation last year and two of their starters are injured. They lost two of their best players, one on each side of the ball. Janarion Grant on offense and Quanzell Lambert on defense to injury against Iowa. They’ve played three of the top-5 teams in the country in their first six games of the season, so all [of] that kind of just culminated into all of the trouble they’ve been having.

Q: What do you make of the recent quarterback switch to Giovanni Rescigno?

A: I think it is a long time coming. Ash really wanted to see someone other than Chris Laviano behind center. The reality is that he was the starting quarterback because he was the most experienced and the coaching staff felt like he knew the playbook the best, but he didn’t really have the right skill set to perform under the spread offense that Drew Mehringer and Chris Ash are implementing here. I think Geovanni Rescigno … doesn’t have that much game experience but [in] the experience he has, he’s impressed … The coaching staff said [Monday] that they’ve seen him be more loose and more comfortable in practice. I don’t think they have that much to lose considering their chances of making a bowl game are pretty much dead. They would have to win four of their last five games and I really don’t see that happening.

Q: What can people expect from Rescigno in terms of a skill set?

A: Gio is much more of a mobile quarterback than Chris Leviano. I wouldn’t call him exactly a dual threat and neither did his offensive coordinator when he was asked about it [Monday]. But he’s miles better than Leviano in scrambling out of the pocket when it collapses … he’s really good at making stuff up with his feet and kind of improvising on the spot. His arm isn’t all that good. You probably won’t see too many deep shots mostly because his arm isn’t that strong and also because the Rutgers’ wide receiving core isn’t that talented. So I expect a lot of runs from running back Robert Martin, a lot of short bubble screens to Jawuan Harris and some designed runs, but probably a lot of scrambles.

Q: Do you think the quarterback switch will reduce turnovers on offense?

A: They had a lot of turnovers against Illinois. They were mostly fumbles. Laviano turned the ball over two or three times since the season opener against Washington. I think he’s only thrown one pick since then. The coach said ball security is going to be the main concern this week. I think they’re going to have less turnovers but I don’t think that [is] necessarily going to be because of the quarterback change.

Q: You recently wrote in an article that Ash is still optimistic about the team. Do you still see this team improving at all year as the year progresses?

A: The second half of the season is much more manageable than the first. They’re not playing Washington, Ohio State, or Michigan. I definitely think they can improve, especially because of the injuries. I can see the team pulling out a win or two at the end of the season. To answer your question, I can see [some] improvement, just [not a lot of it].

Q: How do you think the Scarlet Knights stack up against the Gophers heading into this game?

A: Rutgers’ main part of their offense is their rushing attack. Robert Martin, Josh Hicks, Justin Goodwin, [are] pretty solid … If they can stop Rutgers at the line of scrimmage, that is going to be a huge key for Minnesota … Their rushing attack is the strength of their offense, which Rutgers has struggled to contain. The numbers are a bit skewed just because of how much they suffered against Michigan and Ohio State. Like I said before, they are replacing three linebackers and two of [the new linebackers] are already injured. One of them is out for the season. And they’ve struggled to contain the rush so if Minnesota can get the run going I don’t see how Rutgers could really pull this game out.

Speed Round Questions

Q: How many wins for Rutgers this season?

A: Three.

Q: Rutgers’ best offensive player?

A: Robert Martin.

Q: Rutgers’ best defensive player?

A: Darius Hamilton

Q: Rutgers will gain more or less than 200 yards of offense in the Minnesota game?

A: More.

Q: Rutgers commit over or under 2.5 turnovers?

A: Over.

Q: Who will win the Big Ten Championship?

A: Ohio State.

Q: Big Ten Player of the Year?

A: Jabrill Peppers

Q: Heisman winner?

A: Jabrill Peppers

Q: National Championship winner?

A: Alabama

Q:Score prediction for the Minnesota-Rutgers game?

A: 28-21 Minnesota.