Rutgers coach Kyle Flood left the quarterback battle open in spring after the graduation of Chas Dodd, and the result was a spring battle between everyone else. Senior Gary Nova, yet again, emerged as the best option available for Rutgers and is likely headed toward his fourth season of starting experience.
Nova won the starting job this spring in everything but an official capacity. Flood decided against naming a starter out of spring camp, but Nova was far ahead of the pack and should expect it to become official early in training camp.
The question is, which Nova shows up when Rutgers begins the season? There is first-half Nova – responsible for some of the best quarterback performances in school history (Fresno State, Temple, Arkansas). Then there is second-half Nova – responsible for some of the ugliest (Kent State, Virginia Tech).
Nova is now a senior with three years of starting experience. The time to develop consistency is now, and adding the tools of offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen and graduate Mike Teel will help. The concern this year comes because Nova is the only quarterback on the roster with college experience. Without Dodd as a backup, Nova’s replacements are entirely unproven and inexperienced.
The starting battle is technically ongoing, but the true competition will be the backup battle between junior Mike Bimonte and redshirt freshman Chris Laviano. Bimonte showed drastic improvement in the spring from what he offered as an underclassman. Laviano took advantage of bowl practices to see the game start to slow down by the end of spring camp. Look for the two to push each other for the backup spot, and the chance to finally see the field.
Flood hit a ninth inning home run in recruiting with the transfer addition of former four-star quarterback Hayden Rettig. Rettig is ineligible this season via transfer regulations, but will spend the next six months preparing to compete for the starting job in 2015. Rettig needs to beat out Bimonte, Laviano and true freshman Giovanni Rescigno to play, but is the early favorite to succeed Nova as the starting quarterback.
Rescigno represents another late success for Flood, who convinced him to visit and commit in January. Rescigno is a mobile quarterback. He suffered from lack of exposure in high school after backing up a five star recruit for three seasons. Rutgers also has a commitment from Elmwood Park (N.J.) quarterback Mike Dare. Dare recently impressed at Rutgers camp and was the first New Jersey commitment in the 2015 class.
Nova has to step up his game, and step up his consistency, for Rutgers to make noise in its first Big Ten season. He will start his 30th career game this season, and has the appropriate tools around him to take the next step. Nova has an elite receiver (Leonte Carroo), dangerous tight end (Tyler Kroft) and five returning starters on the offensive line. It’s time to play the game.