“Chris (Laviano) is our starting quarterback,” Flood said on Sunday after his team lost its fourth straight game, 31-14, to Nebraska on Saturday.
Laviano has completed 38-of-87 passes (43.7 percent) for 410 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions during the team’s four-game losing skid. The first-team offense ended a three-game streak without a touchdown on Saturday, thanks to a pair of interception returns that put the ball in Nebraska territory.
Those struggles have not shaken Flood’s belief that Laviano is the best option.
“Every position, we make the decision the same way,” Flood said. “It’s the player that gives us the best chance to be 1-0 this week. I feel like Chris is that guy.”
Rutgers has significant problems in pass protection and its receivers — aside from Leonte Carroo — have struggled to get open. While the offense’s woes certainly aren’t solely Laviano’s fault, many fans are frustrated by Flood’s refusal to give backup quarterback Hayden Rettig a chance to start.
Rettig started the season opener against Norfolk State while Laviano served a one-half suspension for violating curfew and getting caught with a fake ID during training camp. Rettig completed 9-of-11 passes for 110 yards, two total touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half before he was replaced by Chris Laviano after halftime.
Flood didn’t name a starter until after the opener because he said the competition between Laviano and Rettig was too close to call. Since that point, Rettig has only appeared in mop-up duty at the end of three blowouts.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of one player over another,” Flood said. “I’m not going to do that in public. That’s not in the best interest of the program. I understand why there is interest in it. The quarterback position is the most important position in all of sports. The guy who goes out there as the starting quarterback is going to be the one who we feel like gives us the best chance to be 1-0 this week. This week is the only week we’re thinking about.”
Rettig transferred to Rutgers before the 2014 season after one year at LSU.He admitted recently that “it’s been hard” not to play while the offense sputters. Rettig declined comment on Oct. 31 when he was asked if he felt he should have played earlier than the fourth quarter of a 48-10 loss to Wisconsin.
Flood said Sunday that he isn’t concerned that Rettig will check out mentally or emotionally as he continues to sit on the bench.
“Hayden is a good teammate. He’s been a good teammate the whole year,” Flood said. “I don’t have any concerns about that. But I know he is a competitor. I know he wants to get his opportunity to get out there. I know he is working really hard to make sure he is ready when he is called upon.”
Laviano and Rettig are both redshirt sophomores. With Flood investing so heavily in developing Laviano this season, it’s natural to wonder if Rettig would consider transferring again to try to find an opportunity to play.
But when he was asked if he had any concern about Rettig potentially transferring, Flood simply responded, “No.”