Rutgers spring game puts quarterbacks under microscope
Coach Kyle Flood has said the competition to replace Gary Nova will stretch into training camp this summer.
''As coaches we always want more,'' said Flood, whose team is coming off an 8-5 record in its first Big Ten Conference season and a win over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl. ''We try to keep the expectations high. What I'm pleased with is how hard they're working at it. I see them making progress. We're certainly operating at a different level now than we were at the beginning of the spring.''
Laviano has more game experience. As a redshirt freshman he played in five games in mop-up duty for Nova, the starter for much of the last four years. Laviano completed 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Rettig ran the scout team last season after transferring from LSU, where he redshirted in 2013 as a freshman.
For the annual spring game, Flood said he had not yet decided whether the two quarterbacks would be on opposing teams or if they would face the same defense.
They will both play with the same offensive line. Because of attrition, the Scarlet Knights are down to eight linemen. That means redshirt senior Keith Lumpkin, redshirt juniors Ryan Brodie, J.J. Denman and Derrick Nelson, redshirt sophomore Dorian Miller, and redshirt freshmen Tariq Cole, Marcus Applefield and Jacquis Webb will rotate throughout the scrimmage, playing for both teams. Long snapper Bryan Stonkus could be the ninth offensive lineman.
The linemen see the positives in getting the extra reps.
''Without a doubt. That's the only way you can look at it,'' Miller said. ''You really got to take advantage of being out there and get as many reps as you can. Right now it's making all of us better players.''
The defense will have a significant change in the secondary with Anthony Cioffi moving from cornerback to safety. Despite being limited by injury to start spring practice, Cioffi is comfortable at his new position along with the eight pounds he added in the offseason to bulk up to 203.
''It's good,'' Cioffi said. ''It's just the plays - I just have to get everything, the reads and all that stuff down.''
Cioffi, who played 24 games in his first two seasons, moves to the position he played in high school after Rutgers had the two worst statistical seasons in passing yardage in school history, giving up 4,056 in 2013 and 2,996 in 2014.
Flood believes Cioffi, who had two interceptions last season, will be around the ball more.
"One of the exciting things about having him back there is he's got tremendous ball skills,'' Flood said. ''He was a really fine offensive player in high school. We've seen him block kicks here. We've seen him with interceptions, so he's a guy that when the ball is in his area he generally comes down with it, so with his range there and his ability to come off the hash, I think he's going to be able to make some plays.''
Flood has ruled out eight players for the game, including WR Janarion Grant, DL Darius Hamilton and OL Chris Muller, all with lower body injuries. CB Nadir Barnwell (upper body) and WRs Leonte Carroo and John Tsimis (lower body injures) will be limited.