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Positions that need improvement: Rutgers

1/30/2015

Our Big Ten-wide look at positions that need improvement winds to a close with an examination of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Problem position: Quarterback

Why quarterback is a problem: Gary Nova is gone. Nova was the perfect security blanket for Rutgers in its transition season to the Big Ten, with his three years of starting experience before 2014. He guided the Scarlet Knights admirably, ranking in QBR among Big Ten quarterbacks behind only J.T. Barrett and Connor Cook. When Nova was hurt at Nebraska, Rutgers’ offense suffered badly. Moving forward, Chris Laviano is the only quarterback on the roster to take a collegiate snap. In fact, of six Rutgers quarterbacks to participate in practice last spring, only Laviano remains in Piscataway. And with the departure of three starting linemen and talented tight end Tyler Kroft, now is not the best time for uncertainty at quarterback.

How it can be fixed: Laviano looks set to battle LSU transfer Hayden Rettig in the spring. Both will be third-year sophomores. And while Laviano has the edge in experience, Rettig is an exciting prospect and likely offers a higher ceiling. He ranked 17th among pocket passers in the 2013 recruiting class out of Los Angeles and signed early with the Tigers. Rettig sat out at Rutgers last fall as Laviano got into five games and completed 11 of 28 passes. Meaningful competition in the spring is important.

Early 2015 outlook: Rutgers would be wise to rely on its deep and diverse stable of running backs as the new quarterback gets settled in the fall. While Laviano and Rettig have the edge, redshirt freshman Giovanni Rescigno will compete for time in the spring, and New Jersey prep prospect Michael Dare is set to sign next week. Offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen did a nice job with Nova and is noted for his solid work with quarterbacks, so whomever wins the job will benefit from a solid teacher.