There may be nothing that can be done to make this season end on a positive note for Rutgers. Losers of four straight games by a minimum of 17 points, and in a season that has seen a share of suspensions, off-field concerns and the head coach suspended for three games, it has been a rough season for Rutgers that cannot end soon enough. In the little time that remains though, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood has a job to do and his decision-making will continue to be questioned along the way.
In a post published on NJ.com today by Dan Duggan, Flood’s decision to stand pat with starting quarterback Chris Laviano is labeled as “inexplicable.”
“But college football is a bottom-line business. And the bottom line has been abysmal recently for Laviano, who has completed 38-of-87 passes (43.7 percent) for 410 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions during the losing streak.
Despite those struggles, Flood steadfastly has stood behind his first-year starter. Meanwhile, the calls for a quarterback change grow louder each week from the segment of the fan base that hasn’t completely checked out on this season.”
As mentioned, Laviano’s line in the weekly box scores has not been pretty. Four games, four losses, zero touchdown passes and five interceptions. Laviano has thrown 12 touchdown passes this season, with 11 interceptions as well. Changing quarterbacks and going with Hayden Rettig will not instantly turn things around to the point where Rutgers fans can look at this season as a success, but it might be worth the opportunity to allow him some mroe playing time in these final two weeks of the season to see what he can do if only because Laviano has struggled over the past month.
Rutgers plays on the road against Army this week and wraps up the 2015 season at home against Maryland. Last weekend’s loss to Nebraska officially eliminated the Scarlet Knights from postseason eligibility after making the postseason in their first year as a Big Ten member.
By default we already know who the starting quarterback will be for Rutgers in the season opener against Norfolk State. Hayden Rettig has already been reported to be the starting quarterback for the Scarlet Knights in the first game of the season while Chris Laviano sits out the first half of the game. Laviano was suspended by the program for a violation of team rules in late August, but he — along with wide receiver Leonte Carroo — will be eligible to return to the game in the second half.
This is when Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is expected to announce his quarterback decision for the 2015 season.
“Hayden Rettig is the starting quarterback,” Flood said, according to NJ.com. “We’re going to evaluate the first half and we’ll make a decision at halftime as to how we’re going to proceed.”
Rettig and Laviano had been competing for the starting job as Rutgers looks to replace Gary Nova. There had been no real separation in the competition out of the spring and over the course of the summer, and it would seem the first-half suspension has not put much jeopardy in Laviano’s chances to claim the starting job. Opening against an FCS program is always a good opportunity to play multiple quarterbacks if there is still a question to be answered at the position, and Rutgers has some time to work through the situation before entering Big Ten play.
It might be good for Flood if he can get it figured out a little bit earlier though as Washington State is scheduled to pay a visit in Week 2. The Cougars are known to move the ball through the air with Mike Leach at the helm, and Washington State is looking to avenge last season’s wild season-opening loss at home to Rutgers. Rutgers visits Penn State in Week 3 to open the Big Ten schedule.
You have to love half-game suspensions against FCS opponents. That is what Rutgers has handed to quarterback Chris Laviano and star wide receiver Leonte Carroo. Laviano and Carroo will each serve a half-game suspension when Rutgers takes the field next week in the season opener against Norfolk State. Both will be eligible to return in the second half, and Rutgers hopes to avoid needing either to have an impact in the second half when they do. A curfew violation reportedly is what led to the mild suspensions.
In addition to the suspensions of Laviano and Carroo, linebacker Kevin Marquez, punter Tim Gleeson and cornerback Ruhann Peele will also serve half-game suspensions.
The loss of Carroo is the most notable, as he is one of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten. He believes he is the best. Fortunately, the half-game suspension will be served against the weakest opponent on the schedule for Rutgers, so the impact of his loss will be minimal given the circumstances.
With Laviano now out of the quarterback mix at Rutgers, for a half at least, Joe Schad of EPSN.com reports Hayden Rettig will assume command of the offense. The two had been competing for the right to replace Gary Nova. Rettig is a transfer from LSU who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
In the meantime, Rutgers could have other problems on its hands with head coach Kyle Flood reportedly under investigation for allegedly contacting an academic instructor directly using his personal email account.
After a turbulent domestic situation off the field and being cut by the Baltimore Ravens and essentially locked out of the NFL for a year, Ray Rice was welcomed back at Rutgers, where he was a key player in the rise of the Scarlet Knights program under Greg Schiano. Rice was invited back for the Friday night spring scrimmage by current Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood, who felt the time was right to help a member of the Rutgers family.
“I reached out to Ray. I thought we had an opportunity here for Ray to give a very important message to our football players and he did that today,” Flood explained after the Friday night scrimmage.
“The message was really simple; you can do a lot of great things in your life. You can do charitable works at home and in the cities you are working in, but if you make the wrong decision, you’re going to have to be accountable for it,” Flood explained. “Ray made a wrong decision and he’s held himself accountable for it. He’s paid the price for it and I thought today was an opportunity for him to deliver a message to prevent one of our young people from doing that in the future.”
On the field, Rutgers saw some good development from the running game and the offensive line, which should be the strength of the offense in the fall. The quarterback competition, as it so often does this time of year at most programs, should continue over the summer with Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig each looking to replace Gary Nova under center.
“I think both guys have done a good job,” Flood replied when asked about the quarterback performance Friday night. “I think Chris [Laviano] is a little ahead right now, but that doesn’t surprise me because he’s had the advantage of playing in the games.”
Rutgers had a spring game crowd of 15,782 come out to watch the Friday Knight Lights event. The 2015 season begins at home on September 5 against Norfolk State.
Rutgers has a bit of a need for some quarterback depth heading into the 2014 season. Perhaps one option to fill a spot on the roster could be a transfer from the SEC.
According to Greg Biggins of Scout.com, LSU transfer quarterback Hayden Rettig will make a visit to Rutgers this week (Tuesday). It was reported earlier this month Rettig informed LSU of his intention to transfer. He is the second quarterback to transfer out of LSU this offseason, joining Stephen Rivers. Rivers transferred to Vanderbilt. There has been no confirmed reason for Rettig’s decision to transfer, but as previously noted, the depth chart issue could have been a significant influence.
Which is why Rutgers would make some sense for Rettig. Rutgers recently dismissed quarterback Phillip Nelson, who had transferred from Minnesota. Nelson was booted from the program after being charged for assault in Minnesota in a disturbing incident.
Rutgers returns Gary Nova after starting at quarterback last season, but the Scarlet Knights are in need of stability under center. Of course, if Rettig does transfer to Rutgers he would have to sit out one year due to standard NCAA transfer rules. That would make him eligible in 2015.
Boston College was also considered to be a potential option for Rettig’s services.