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Rutgers Potluck Part 2: The Great Jersey Debate

It's Taylor Ham, but which quarterback?

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Today's potluck brings mini Taylor Pork Roll sandwiches to the table.

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t at least slightly heard of the ongoing violent war amongst New Jerseyans over the proper name for a greasy, no better than spam, circular piece of processed pork product (Taylor Ham vs. Pork Roll). My personal take on the matter is that Taylor Ham is like saying Band-Aid or Crock Pot and pork roll is like saying bandage and slow cooker, but I digress…

With regards to disagreeing factions of Rutgers fans’ opinions, a big one that usually emerges is in our quarterbacks. You have rising fourth year Chris Laviano with 11 starts at QB in 2015 leading the team with 2,247 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 187 completions. In his last game he completed 21 passes with four touchdowns against Maryland. Then you have Hayden Rettig, a 4 star, U.S. Army All-American LSU transfer who played in 5 games with 1 start in 2015, and threw for 72 yards with a long pass of 58 against No. 1 Ohio State. Who do you pick?

LPW: I’d go with Laviano. I've never heard of the Taylor Ham vs Pork Roll debate.

AK: Got to go with Pete Mote here. For srs, the answer depends on whether Ash wants to play it safe and go with a known but limited quantity, or gamble a bit with an unproven guy like Rettig or any of the other Rootjarnian QBs. First year expectations are generally low anyway, so I'd play with that house money a bit and give Rettig or even one of the other guys like Rescigno a try.

C4B: Unless Rettig does something fantastic leading up to the season, I feel like you have to give Laviano the chance to keep playing until or unless something goes wrong.

GF: Laviano has the obvious advantage of playing time in the offense. But he doesn’t have the arm of Rettig. I take a look at how Rettig is doing in the system, because his ceiling is definitely higher.

WSR: Upperclass leadership is huge when there’s not continuity.  When there’s a coaching change you need some people to be good soldiers and help the transition, knowing full well that there are other (potentially better) options ready to go at the first sign of trouble.  So go with Laviano and get Rettig some reps if you can get into a blowout (PREFERABLY ON THE GOOD END OF A BLOWOUT!) knowing full well that he could be tossed into a game the first time the defense or the OL or the RB let the team down.

Jesse: So uh, no offense, but this isn’t super ideal for you all. Laviano is far from a terrible quarterback, but what you failed to point out is that he also threw 12 INTs. Oh, and his five game stretch before Maryland - since you decided to point out his one game stats where he threw four TDs against a Terp team that quit long before that week - he had zero touchdowns and 5 INTs. I realize that there were some other issues in the receiving corp, but Laviano is a low ceiling, potentially low floor QB. I’m a fan of Rettig’s potential, so maybe go ahead and get after it early if you can. It’ll be ugly at times with a guy who doesn’t have a ton of game experience, but maybe his athleticism can get you somewhere.

MNW: Greasy ham on a roll: The Great New Jersey Culinary Debate!

Otherwise I second Jesse’s answer. Holy shit, has anyone from Rutgers done anything negative ever?

babaoreally: I must be living under a rock, because I have never heard of whatever food item that is being discussed here. As a Purdue fan, we like to switch QBs midseason after the first guy (and the entire team) implodes. Then the new guy has one or two decent games, followed by a sharp decline. Then he starts the next season, gets replaced, and then transfers to an SEC school. Say I say start the guy who started most of last season and then change horses in midstream.

Townie: I’m a big fan of competition, so whichever quarterback emerges after the offseason. If they are a tie, then you have to go with the incumbent, Laviano. You have to admit, after Gary "the interception" Nova, either of these guys is a good option.

Stew: With coaching changes often comes personel changes in key positions, based mostly on whoever buys into the new staff.  My honest guess is that both get a shot.  Rutgers is not going to be very good, and a new coaching staff will likely look to shake things up at some point by switching out the QBs.  So I would go with Laviano to start the year, moving to Rettig later in the season.

Ray: Laviano is not only the better QB, but he should have a good 2016 and a great 2017. Rettig isn’t far behind and can do good things in the offense, but he’s a clear step back.

I think Laviano is a pretty underrated QB, largely by his own doing. He’s quiet, he doesn’t do a good interview and he’s not naturally charismatic to the media or fans. He also made a pretty bad mistake in firing back at fans in the debacle against Maryland last year. No, the fans shouldn’t have been booing, but he’s the starting QB. It’s his job to absorb the best and worst that being the leader of the team entails, whether its directed at the coach, the team, or him. I don’t mean to unduly criticize Laviano, I only mean to explain one perspective on why he’s so underrated.

All that said, Laviano is perfect for this offense. Smart football mind. Strong in the short passing game. Quick release. Quick decision maker. Accurate thrower. Underrated athleticism. Physically tough as they come. He needs to get mentally tough and get comfortable enough in the offense to play more aggressively, but he has all the tools to get it done in the power spread and his weaknesses (deep ball accuracy, conservative play, lack of elite arm strength) are mitigated by the scheme.

The bottom line though is that with all of the quarterback running in this offense, we’re going to need Laviano and Rettig to be ready to play this year…

...just like Taylor Ham and Pork Roll. Yeah, I’m that one weird Jersey guy who doesn’t care what you call this delicious slice of heaven. Just give it to me with a coke or a beer and I’m a happy camper.

Aaron Yorke: I know nothing of this pork debate. I also don’t see any reason for Laviano to lose his grip on the starting quarterback position. He completed over 60 percent of his throws in 2015, threw more touchdowns than interceptions, and finished the campaign with his strongest performance. Now let’s see how he does in his second year at the helm.