Just about everything that can go wrong is going wrong for Rutgers heading into the season-opener against Norfolk State.
In addition to already-announced first-half suspensions for wide receiver and Leonte Carroo and quarterback Chris Laviano, defensive lineman Darius Hamilton — the Scarlet Knights’ best defensive player — will miss the opener due to injury.
And by the sound of head coach Kyle Flood’s comments during his Tuesday press conference, it sounds like Hamilton might miss some significant time.
“He's week-to-week right now,” Flood said. “I'm confident that we are going to see Darius Hamilton on the field on game day this year but it will be really hard for me to put a timetable on it.”
Losing Hamilton is obviously a big blow, and a first half without Carroo, Laviano and three other players will also be detrimental at first. Thankfully for Rutgers, Norfolk State isn’t the kind of opponent where these losses make a huge difference, but it’s still not a positive thing.
There’s plenty more uncertainty surrounding the Knights, too.
Flood is in the middle of being investigated by the school after he sent an email to a university faculty member regarding the academic status of a player. There’s a rule against that sort of communication between coaches and faculty at Rutgers, and reports indicate that Flood could face significant punishment.
There was a question asked Tuesday as to whether he’d coach the team Saturday.
“I have no reason to believe I wouldn't be the person leading the football team on Saturday,” Flood answered. “My portion of the university process ended yesterday, and now until there's a resolution, I really need to be respectful of that process and I won't have further comment on that.”
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And while that remains unresolved, so does the team’s quarterback situation. Hayden Rettig will get the start Saturday with Laviano suspended. The two were locked in a competition this preseason. Flood said it will be a halftime decision as to which QB leads the team once Laviano’s suspension ends, which isn’t the most ringing endorsement for Rettig and makes you wonder if Laviano would have started had he not been suspended.
Still, Rettig is the starting QB for Saturday’s game.
“Hayden Rettig is the starting quarterback,” Flood said. “We're going to evaluate the first half, and we'll make a decision at halftime as to how we're going to proceed.
“I really haven't looked past the first half of this game. We are going to evaluate the first half of this game and then make our decisions going forward based on that. To look beyond that I think would be very difficult.”