The scarlet nation received a glimpse of the future of the quarterback position as true freshman Johnathan Lewis accounted for five touchdowns in Rutgers’ 65-0 win over Morgan State this afternoon.
Lewis ran the ball 11 times for 58 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground. He also threw an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart.
“We practice all week with that play,” Lewis said following the game. “With the safety, they were playing cover zero on us, so once the safety came down, the throw was wide open.”
Lewis played only two snaps in the first two games, but the staff was not necessarily waiting to use him.
“That's been the plan all along, to put him in a game situation where he'd have success,” head coach Chris Ash said post game. “These are the same plays he's been working all through training camp. In this game, obviously, the situation of the game, the score of the game afforded us the opportunity to put him in, and he took advantage of it.”
Starter Kyle Bolin still played the bulk of the snaps at quarterback, although he was excited for Lewis to get on the field.
"We've been pushing to get him on the field the past few weeks,” Bolin said of Lewis. “This game was a great opportunity for him to come in. I told him on the sidelines 'man, it couldn't be easier'. He came in and scored touchdowns on four plays, so that was good."
While Lewis made his mark today running the football, his passing ability is something fans should keep an eye on in the future.
“He has a bullet,” freshman wide receiver Bo Melton said. “You can ask any receiver here. He rips gloves, he has a cannon. He showed a lot of running today, but he can throw it too.”
Looking ahead to the next week, there is no quarterback controversy as Bolin remains the starter. However, it is likely that Lewis will start to see more playing time as he settles into the college game.
“I am really comfortable [with the playbook], but when it comes to knowing the defenses and blitz pickup, I have to get it quicker,” Lewis said. “…Going from high school to college, it is a lot faster. I have to get more acclimated with the speed of the game.”
With nine Big Ten games remaining, there is a very real chance that Lewis could be called upon more frequently as the offensive signal-caller.
“He's been patient and been persistent in his preparation,” Ash said of Lewis. “He did a good job, when the opportunity presented itself, to go out and play more snaps than he has so far this year.”