The Facts – Sophomore Chris Laviano threw for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his first year as a starter. After sophomore Hayden Rettig started the opener, he barely saw the field and finished with 233 yards and two touchdown passes.
What Went Right – Laviano’s mental toughness eventually cracked on Instagram but give him credit for the way he muscled through a painful season. Game after game, Laviano took crushing hits with limited protection. Rutgers would have been worse than 4-8 without Laviano, and the designed mobility was a welcome twist after a decade of statues in the pocket.
For everyone that criticized Laviano, do not discount his heart or his ability to win over teammates. It wasn’t Laviano’s decision to play himself with extreme loyalty. What is he supposed to do? Bench himself?
What Went Wrong – The problems started with a suspension. If the battle was actually as close as Kyle Flood said in training camp (it clearly wasn’t), then why does the player that broke curfew instantly become the starter after his suspension ends? A 100 percent Lavaiano attack was the best option to win a game but not the best option to win future games and build depth.
Something to Fix – Rutgers cannot take the hard line at quarterback. Greg Schiano (Chas Dodd vs. Gary Nova) and Flood (loyalty to Nova, Laviano) showed both extremes to the situation and neither created stars at the position. Mike Teel was an exception, and here is why. Teel was clearly the best option because of his personal work ethic and the way Schiano held him accountable. Quarterbacks like Jabu Lovelace and Dom Natale held Teel in check when they were clearly lesser options. The same needs to happen with whomever starts in 2016.
The Ash Era – A clean slate at quarterback is good for competition. Chris Ash has zero loyalties to any quarterback until he signs his first one in February. Start fresh and may the best man win for Ash and new offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.