PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers had one of college football's worst offenses last year. One game into a new season and things are looking a whole lot better.
McLane Carter led Rutgers to a 48-21 win over Massachusetts. The graduate transfer from Texas Tech threw for 340 years, becoming the school's first 300-yard passer in the four years coach Chris Ash has been there.
Next up is a real test at No. 20 Iowa on Saturday. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz thinks Carter Rutgers a new dimension.
"I'm sure that's why he won the job, with all due respect to everybody else there," Ferentz said. "He threw it well, threw it down the field and played really well for them."
As did others. Halfback Isaih Pacheco scored four touchdowns and Bo Melton had 127 yards receiving and a touchdown. Pacheco, who was recruited by Iowa, also ran for 156 yards. Raheem Blackshear had a game-high 165 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Iowa gave up only 59 rushing yards in its 38-14 opening win against Miami (Ohio).
Pacheco, Melton and Blackshear have shown flashes in their careers, but this time they were clicking together. That didn't happen last season when Rutgers won one game and went winless in the conference.
"Last year, really, it's behind us. We were thinking of this year and keep our heads up," Melton said. "We had our ups downs last year, but this year is a different year. You got to come out here and grind all for every unit and show you mesh pretty good."
Of course, that was at home against UMass. Now it will be a ranked Big Ten opponent on the road.
While Carter is new to the Big Ten, he's knows what it's like to play in the Big 12 at TCU and Kansas State.
"You just have to focus up a little bit more, just tighten up everything just a little bit more," he said. "And just know it's going to be a hectic atmosphere. And you just have to play."
Last season, Art Sitkowski struggled as a true freshman. Carter is clearly more experienced.
"He's not going to let anything get to him," Melton said. "He came back to the sideline after that first inception and recognized that 'hey, we got the next drive and we were scoring' and kept on scoring."
Carter had three interceptions against UMass He knows that's unacceptable.
"Take check-down (receivers) and take care of the football. That's the number one thing, ball security," Carter said. "Other than that, just everybody go out and have fun, play to win and go out and compete with everybody."
Carter needs to adjust to the Big Ten. In the Big 12, the spread offenses created a more open game.
"That was his first start in a while, first significant playing time in a while," Ash said. "I think he was really trying to do a little too much on a couple of the throws and probably put the ball in harm's way. ... But he just can't press and try to make the big play all the time."