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Rutgers Football: The OTB Staff ponders Laviano versus Rettig

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Chris Laviano or Hayden Rettig? That is the question. Our staff at OTB gives their opinion.

John Munson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Bob Cancro

Back in the late '70's/80's (that's the 1970's for those picturing me at the first Princeton game), the late Yankee player and manager Billy Martin did a bunch of commercials for a certain light beer that rhymed with tiller.  In one of these classic ads, Martin avoids his usual confrontational style and says, "I feel strongly both ways."  We're channeling Billy today.

First off, I don't care who QB1 is as long as he gets the job done.  As has been said by others, this is a great luxury/problem to have, and it isn't one we've had before at Rutgers.  Two quarterbacks who are really good, and could verge on being really great.  Our guy Griffin has put together stats and even went to an online calculator to figure their QB rating from the scrimmage.  By the way, can anybody explain why those ratings aren't based on 100% instead of 158.3?  158.3...really?  And college passing efficiency apparently can run from -731.6 to 1261.6.  Seriously.

Anyway, Rettig and Laviano are both quality athletes.  What we don't know - and what the coaches are seeing every day - is how they run the team.  Who is winning the locker room?  And we don't know that.  I was never a Geno Smith fan, but it seems pretty clear to me that he not only hadn't won the Jets locker room, he didn't even belong in it.  Who can command this Rutgers team in the huddle, in the locker room, under pressure -- that's who will be the starter.

Blind guess: unless the next scrimmage puts someone way ahead, I think Flood goes with the guy who has taken snaps in a D1 game: Laviano. But I expect both to play against Norfolk State and probably Wazzoo, too.  And probably in Happy Valley as well. I think that's when we find the true starter.

Aaron Breitman

I want to start by saying I like Chris Laviano.  He performed admirably at Nebraska last season when he came into the game for an injured Gary Nova.  I think Flood made a mistake not starting him at home against Wisconsin the following game.  Laviano took first team reps the entire week, only to find out before kickoff he wasn't starting.  Nova played hurt and not well in a downpour.  Laviano seemed deflated and did not perform well either.  He has played well in the spring and has continued through training camp.  It seems to be forgotten that Laviano was a 4-star recruit and top 300 player by ESPN coming out of high school.  He would be a solid choice.

All that being said, I think Hayden Rettig should be the starter.  As Bob said above, we don't have any idea what the coaches are seeing in practice everyday, nor who the players are behind.  However, from everything I have read, seen, and heard, it seems that Rettig has shown more ability to read the field and hit his second and third options.  It's no secret he has a stronger arm.  I think he is the better fit for the pro-style offense Ben McDaniels will run.

I think experience is important, but in this battle I think Laviano's experience being thought of as an advantage is overrated.  He has never started a game.  It was a factor for Rettig that he didn't have a lot of experience running the system in spring camp.  He worked this summer and has by all accounts had a strong training camp, proving he is learning.  The term game manager has been used as a positive in the case for Laviano.  We need a playmaker and it seems that Rettig has the ability to be that more so.    With the opportunity to take the majority of first team reps and gain game experience, I expect Rettig to continue to grow and get better.  Our season may depend on it.

Griffin Whitmer

I really like Laviano's attitude; he is confident in himself and seems like a total bad-ass. That being said, Rettig is also confident in himself and gives off a "big-time" vibe. If you watch Rettig's high school highlights, it is evident that he was playing and playing well in some big games under the lights. I am not too sure if Laviano ever experienced that in New York. Yes, high school is incredibly different from college but Rettig just has something about him that makes me feel more comfortable with him under center.

To be fair, the only thing Laviano had on Rettig was game experience. Sure, Laviano played some B1G games but they never seemed meaningful. Laviano is a great athlete and had some nice runs, which Rutgers fans are not used to. However, it has been noted that he hasn't been going all the way through his progressions and dumping it off. Rettig seems more comfortable in the pocket and has the arm to spray the ball all over the field.

I am much more comfortable with a 100% pro-style passer who has a cannon when it comes to this offense. After seeing how Laviano played as a passing QB last year, I don't think I can accept him as a full time QB of a pro-style offense. For those reasons, I have to go with Hayden Rettig.

Andy Egan

Can we all just be glad we are no longer talking about Jabu Lovelace, who was seemingly a Scarlet Knight for eleven years? I think he actually sells foam fingers and programs at the stadium now (just kidding - Jabu is actually doing very well for himself in the financial industry). But I digress.

I think Kyle Flood was ready to crown Chris Laviano his starter, until Hayden Rettig REALLY came on in camp and in the last scrimmage in particular. Both QBs put on strong aerial performances, but Rettig's 8/10, 116 yds and 3 TDs was eye-catching, and highlighted that this race is no formality - it is a real, close fight, and there is no advantage to naming a winner prematurely.

The advantage Laviano had on Rettig (and continues to have) is this is his third year in the program, and the second running the Scarlet Knights actual offense. He has also played in live games as a Scarlet Knight, where Rettig hasn't played a meaningful game minute since high school. Rettig was here last year, but as the scout team QB, he was more often charged with replicating the opponents' offenses, and perhaps reading plays off a card to create specific situations.

If Rettig has closed the decision-making/experience with our system gap to a point where the two athletes are competing on talent, athletic ability, and performance only, not knowledge of the playbook, watch out. I think Hayden Rettig is the guy on day 1, based on his more traditional pro-style orientation, with liberal doses of Laviano in some of the gimme games (Norfolk, Kansas etc - Wazzu is NOT a gimme).

Dave White

I don't even know why we're discussing this.  It's clear who's going to quarterback the team.  The point guard quarterback's an offense and that is going to be Corey Sanders from day 1.  Bishop Daniels and Mike Williams will be taught how to back up, but Jordan is going to hand the keys to Corey.  He has to.  Now the key will be if Sanders can keep himself under control and become more than just a highlight reel.  I think he can, but there's honestly no debate here.

*gets tapped on the shoulder*

What's that?

*gets information whispered into his ear*

Wait, this is about foot--huh?

*more whispering*

Oh, um, yeah.  *does a quick Internet search* Um... I guess Hayden Rettig will get the job.  Sounds good to me.

Garrett Stepien

Covering the Rutgers football team for The Daily Targum since February, I've been around both Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig for every single practice they've had from the spring until now. And to my surprise, it's been a lot closer than I initially imagined.

Rettig came here with such an enigma as the four-star Army All-American who was just a square peg in a round hole at LSU. Let me be absolutely clear: none of that matters anymore. He had a poor spring, highlighted by a Scarlet-White game where Laviano completely blew him out of the water on a televised Friday night at High Point Solutions Stadium. And while head coach Kyle Flood clearly wasn't ready to name a starter at the end of the spring, if he had to, there's no doubt in my mind he's handing the keys over to Laviano. He would've rightfully earned it.

But he didn't, leaving the two sophomores to duke it out all training camp long. At first, Rettig still hadn't stood out like I thought he would. There were glimpses of the rocket arm everyone kept talking about, but I didn't see it enough to take him over Laviano — who showed the consistency and collectiveness of a starting quarterback throughout week one.

That all changed for me in the first scrimmage on Aug. 17. Laviano, by all means, had a good showing. But I saw what Rettig could do the more he continues to get acclimated to this offense. I won't get caught up in the stats from one scrimmage, but I saw Rettig completely take the reigns and thread the needle on a pair of back-to-back touchdown strikes in situations designed for the red zone while Laviano went cold. When you have two quarterbacks who are this evenly matched at the same age with similar physical frames, you give it to the kid who has the greater upside to be the guy for years to come. To me, there's no doubt in my mind that Hayden Rettig is that guy. Flood has shown before that he isn't afraid to commit to his starting quarterback and build with him (Re: Gary Nova) which is exactly how I can see his approach with Rettig. The more exposure he gets working as the clear-cut starter, the better he can become.