Rutgers' spring QB competition ends where it started - close

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) The spring game went pretty much like the rest of spring practice in Rutgers' quarterback competition.

Chris Laviano was ahead of Hayden Rettig, but there was not nearly enough separation between the two for coach Kyle Flood to name a winner. Laviano went 8 for 10 for 140 yards and a couple of touchdown passes in the intra-squad game Friday night. Rettig, the LSU transfer, went 4 for 7 for 37 yards.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a surprising 8-5 season in their first year in the Big Ten. Flood returns the makings a solid defense, but needs to find a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Gary Nova and offensive linemen to replace three lost starters.

The quarterbacks have gotten the most attention this spring.

Laviano was backup to Nova last season and limited to mostly mop-up duty. The junior completed 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards and an interception. Rettig is a former four-star recruit who sat out last season.

Essentially, it's a competition that comes down to experience against talent.

Laviano has been 1A to Rettig's 1B throughout the spring.

''I think Chris is a little ahead right now, but that doesn't surprise me because he's had the advantage pf playing in the games,'' Flood said.

Laviano started the Friday Night Lights game and lead the Scarlet on a 68-yard touchdown drive. He was 5 for 6 on the drive for 48 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Carlton Aguidosi that slipped through traffic.

Laviano also overthrew a wide-open receiver for what would have been a long gain on his second series.

''I'll evaluate my performance today and throughout the entire spring. I'll watch a lot of film in the summer and I'll just try and get better and keep upping my game,'' Laviano said.

Rettig redshirted in his one season at LSU. Friday was the closest he has been to playing in a game in two years.

''There's things I need to correct,'' Rettig said. ''I'll go to the film for that, but I just have to keep working.''

Flood said he'd like to pick a starter for the opener against Norfolk State on Sept. 5 by the second week of preseason practice in August.

Other takeaways from the end of Rutgers' spring practice.

THIN LINE

Limited depth and injuries left Flood with only eight available offensive linemen, so the big guys played for both teams.

Starting guard Chris Muller (lower body) was held out. His absence has opened the door for redshirt freshman Tariq Cole and sophomore Dorian Miller. One of them will likely earn the other guard spot in September. Junior Derrick Nelson has looked good at center.

''I'm really excited about those young players and what they've been able to do,'' Flood said. ''And now they'll have the opportunity to study themselves on film.''

MISSING STARS

Rutgers' two best players, receiver Leonte Caroo and defensive tackle Darius Hamilton, took the night off. Caroo has been in non-contact mode all spring as Flood tries to save his dynamic playmaker for the regular season. Hamilton, a junior, has been nursing a lower body injury, but also was taking it easy as more of a precaution.

Linebacker Steve Longa, the team's leading tackler last season, went down in the second quarter Friday night and athletic trainers appeared to work on his shoulder. He jogged off without assistance and did not play again.

Flood said did not have an update.

RAY RICE

Former Baltimore Ravens and Rutgers running back Ray Rice attended the Scarlet Knights' spring game and spoke to the team at the request of coach Kyle Flood.

Rice was back at Rutgers for the first time since he was suspended by the NFL for punching his then-financee and now wife last year. He was on the sideline for the intra-squad game at HighPoint Solutions Stadium, hanging out with other former Rutgers stars such as Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu and 49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis.

''It's very nice. It feels like home,'' Rice told NJ.com. ''It feels good to come back to a place where I had so many good memories. I only want to remember the good, but I want to reflect on the things I've been through and give it to the guys.''

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