Annual Spring Football Game Shows Off Rutgers’ 2015 Squad
by Scott Logan
Rutgers Football will host its annual spring intra-squad scrimmage on Friday at High Point Solutions Stadium, giving fans an opportunity to get a look at the 2015 team.
The exhibition, being dubbed “Friday Knight Lights”, is the culmination of 15 spring football practices, and it is the first organized game the Scarlet Knights will have played since December’s Quick Lane Bowl victory over North Carolina. The game is the team’s last chance to develop before heading home for the summer.
“Spring practice is very important for any college football team,” said former Rutgers fullback Michael Burton. “It’s a huge opportunity to get better because it allows young players to work within the Rutgers offense, defense and kicking system as opposed to just doing what scout cards say. It’s also a time for the older guys to work on fine-tuning their craft.”
One of the most pressing questions about the team is the battle for the starting quarterback job. Four-year starter Gary Nova graduates this year, leaving redshirt sophomores Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano to compete to be Nova’s successor.
Rettig, a former four-star recruit out of California, sat out last year after transferring from Louisiana State University. Laviano served as the backup last season, and completed just 11-of-28 passes for no touchdowns and one interception.
The competition seems to be even. As seen on a video posted by Rutgers Athletics head coach Kyle Flood gave the media no clues as to which quarterback is in the lead.
“I haven’t made a decision either way,” Flood said when asked which quarterback would start Friday’s exhibition.
Another position battle worth keeping an eye on is at tight end. The depth chart at the position took a huge hit when Tyler Kroft declared for the NFL Draft, likely leaving players like junior Nick Arcidiacono and redshirt sophomore Matt Flanagan to pick up the slack.
However, Flood admits in another press conference video that fans could see a committee at the position, which would see a combination of players get snaps at tight end.
“I look at them as a group of guys that are all going to play for us,” Flood said when speaking to the media. “[Arcidiacono] would be the starter right now, if we played today. I don’t know if that will be the case when we get to the fall, but he’d be the guy at the front of the depth chart, at least for now.”
The Scarlet Knights return to play in front of the fans in Piscataway for the first time since last season’s senior day victory over Indiana. Burton spoke of the feeling of returning to the home field during the spring game.
“Being able to get back on the Rutgers game field in front of a huge crowd is awesome,” he said. “To be able to play and demonstrate all of your hard work over the course of the spring in front of your home crowd is a great feeling.”
The game is a rare change of pace when it comes to Rutgers spring games. Usually, the game takes place on Saturday afternoons as part of Rutgers’ annual, campus-wide “Rutgers Day” event. This year, however, the game will serve as the kickoff to the university’s annual Alumni Weekend. This is the first time the scrimmage will be held on a Friday night since 2003.
The game kicks off at 7:30pm, and is free and open to the public. Fans can stick around after the game for post-game autographs with the team, and watch a fireworks show on the field.