Big Ten Bound: The Quarterbacks

Rutgers football ended 2013 with the disappointment of a bowl loss at Yankee Stadium and a losing record, but has every reason to be excited for 2014. Arguably the national champion of conference realignment, the Scarlet Knights are set to join the Big Ten, and ScarletReport.com is here to look ahead position by position.

Today ScarletReport.com looks in-depth at the quarterback position. The battle between Chas Dodd and Gary Nova waged for the majority of three years, and is now over. Dodd leaves Rutgers with a losing record as a starter, and three interceptions in the Pinstripe Bowl loss, but will be remembered as an extreme competitor and someone that did all the right things.

In 2013

What Went Right -- Make no mistake about it, Nova's play in the first half of the season is one of the top reasons Rutgers went to a bowl game. Nova was spectacular against Fresno State, Arkansas, Temple and SMU for four key games early. Nova went through camp as a confident leader, but severely trailed off mid-season.

In the four key games above, Nova threw game-winning touchdowns in three of them and had 15 touchdowns to three interceptions in those games.

What Went Wrong -- Nova's leash was yet again too long despite clear struggles with ball security. Head coach Kyle Flood eventually made the move to go with Chas Dodd after poor Nova showings against Cincinnati and UCF. The move did not lead to major improvement, and lack of consistency at quarterback hurt Rutgers in its bowl loss to Notre Dame.

Dodd was the ultimate worker, and a good locker room presence, but he finished with a 9-10 record as a starter, 24 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.

Heading to the Big Ten

Reason for Excitement -- Ron Prince plans on returning for a second season at offensive coordinator. Rutgers will not have a major scheme change offensively for the first time in five years. That will be critical for quarterbacks looking to take the next step, and bodes for a bounce-back year from Nova.

Prince and Flood have made it clear that every quarterback will get a chance to win the job this spring, which will push Nova harder and give young guns like Chris Laviano, Mike Bimonte and Blake Rankin a shot.

Nova has the talent, and it took fellow Don Bosco product Mike Teel about this long to take the next step. Regardless of inconsistencies, Rutgers has an experienced senior quarterback available for the Big Ten.

Cause for Concern -- Nova is the clear favorite to win a starting job. Every year as a starter began with big numbers and ended with a turnover slump. This is Nova's final year of eligibility, and he will look to make it count, but has not shown the development expected after good showings early. Nova was a team captain. He will need to be a face of improved senior leadership in 2014 and the Big Ten.

As of Jan. 2, Rutgers has no new incoming quarterbacks after losing Tyler Wiegers to Iowa. Daniel Fitzwater remains a hot target, but the Scarlet Knights have just three weeks to add another body to the quarterback competition.

New Year's Resolution -- When it comes to the approach at quarterback, Rutgers has to do a better job preparing multiple options. Part of the reason Nova stayed the starter so long came because there were no other options behind him. Nova is the only quarterback on the roster to ever take a snap in a college game. Part of that comes in recruiting.


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