It’s not often a decision on a starting quarterback comes before a team’s second game of the season, but it’s been an unusual set of circumstances at Rutgers.
Head coach Kyle Flood named Chris Laviano the Scarlet Knights’ starting quarterback on Monday, potentially bringing a conclusion to a position battle that has stretched more than a week into the regular season.
Laviano was suspended for the first half of the team’s season-opening win against Norfolk State on Saturday after missing curfew and using a fake I.D. That meant Hayden Rettig got the nod in the opener, but Laviano replaced Rettig after halftime and pitched a trio of second-half touchdown passes to star wideout Leonte Carroo.
Heading into a Week 2 showdown with Washington State, it will be Laviano for Rutgers, as Flood finalized a quarterback competition that bled over from the preseason into the season.
“This process went longer than I expected it to. As I said Saturday after the game, I didn't anticipate it going this long,” Flood said Monday. “But what it did for us was provide a large body of work — two scrimmages, an actual game where we could watch them play in the stadium — and all those things factored into it.”
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Rettig played well in the first half Saturday, completing nine of his 11 passing attempts for 110 yards and a touchdown, adding 17 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. But Flood tabbed Laviano after halftime, and Laviano needed just four passes — all completions — to throw for 138 yards and a trio of touchdowns.
The halftime switch raised plenty of speculation that perhaps Laviano had won the job prior to the opener and that the only reason Rettig started the opener was Laviano’s suspension.
But Flood didn’t really commit to either quarterback for the long term Monday.
“The only thing that I'm focused on right now is being 1-0 this week,” Flood said.
“Chris is the starting quarterback right now. And I don't want any player in our program looking over their shoulder worried that they would be pulled out of a game because they made a mistake. Right now Chris is the starting quarterback.”
Behind both quarterbacks, Rutgers crushed Norfolk State, 63-13.
The Knights host Washington State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.