Ash: Rutgers QB Art Sitkowski has taken strides this spring
By TOM CANAVAN
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) When Art Sitkowski came to Rutgers, there was a feeling the Scarlet Knights finally had a top-notch quarterback who could play in the Big Ten.
After an inconsistent freshman season in which the team won one game, many wondered whether the cocky kid from New Jersey would live up to the expectations.
Sitkowski renewed some of those hopes Saturday with a solid performance in the annual Scarlet-White spring game. The sophomore completed 22 of 30 passes for 216 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
What was encouraging was he looked confident running the offense.
"I was definitely more comfortable with the system and what we are trying to do offensively," Sitkowski said. "Definitely more comfortable out there. Got a lot of reps. It's been two years now and it's crazy to say that. So definitely very comfortable out there, trying to be as poised as I can and just led the guys down the field."
Sitkowski was extremely impressive on the opening series, hitting all five of his passes and guiding the offense 75 yards for a touchdown. It was capped with a 10-yard pass to Bo Melton.
Coach Chris Ash said Sitkowski showed a lot of improvement compared to last spring and it seems the game has slowed down for him, allowing him to make better decisions.
While Ash said Sitkowski will head into the fall as Rutgers' No. 1 quarterback, he stopped short of naming him his starter. He said Boston College transfer Johnny Langan is not yet eligible to play next fall and it would not be fair to name a starter before that happened.
Sitkowski said his goal Saturday was to just take what the defense gave him. Most of the time, he found open receivers. His only mistake was being intercepted by Deion Jennings on a pass over the middle on which he did not have enough touch to get over the linebacker.
"My job is to lead the offense down the field and play smart football and the quarterback position the right way," Sitkowski said. "That's my goal. I came here this spring and said I wanted to be a better quarterback and I want to play the game the right way."
That means mistake free, and Sitkowski did that for the most part.
Ash said his staff invested a lot of time in trying to improve the passing game in the offseason and this spring. They have worked with the offensive line and the receivers, and tried to improve Sitkowski's timing with his wide out and his decision making.
Ash admitted his team has a lot of work to do before the start of next season. However, he added this team has a great attitude, works hard and is coachable.
It's not a one-win team.
"If you look how we played at the end of last season, we were competitive and a few plays here and there and we could have won a few games at the end of last season," Ash said. "We were playing our best football. We need to build on that, and it's not just competing, it's figuring out how to win and make plays you need to make to win."
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Updated April 13, 2019