Philadelphia, PA – Naming new starting quarterbacks isn't just for the NFL these days. In a week that has seen a number of professional squads name new starting signal callers, a few college teams have done the same and settled their own quarterback quandaries.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are a team poised to contend for the Big East title this season. With arguably the best defense in the conference, the Scarlet Knights will be able to remain competitive. However going into training camp Rutgers was hampered by uncertainty at quarterback.
That changed Monday when first-year head coach Kyle Flood announced that sophomore Gary Nova would get the nod in the team's season opener at Tulane. Nova won what was a two-horse race with incumbent starter Chas Dodd.
Both Dodd and Nova split time last season with Dodd making eight starts and Nova having five. Dodd, a junior, has the edge in experience and has led the team in attempts (468), completions (262), passing yards (3,211) and touchdowns (21) over the last two seasons.
However, Nova impressed during his freshmen campaign, especially during a four-game stretch during October and the season finale against Connecticut. In the matchup with the Huskies Nova completed 11-of-18 passes for 298 yards and a pair of touchdowns despite only playing the fourth quarter.
After the season, Nova and Dodd's numbers looked very similar with Nova throwing for 1,553 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions to 1,574 yards, 10 scores and seven picks from Dodd. Nova accomplished all that in three fewer starts, but in one more game played.
"We are fortunate to have two talented quarterbacks who have won big games for us," Flood said. "This has been an excellent competition but Gary���s body of work ultimately earned him the job."
Nova will be the starting quarterback for new offensive coordinator Dave Brock, who is the third different offensive coordinator in the last three seasons for Rutgers. Flood will want both Brock's offensive system and the quarterback he has chosen to stick in hopes of getting the Scarlet Knights offense up to speed with their stellar defense.
"I think if you had three coordinators, three different systems, three years, I would agree, that���s hard on the players. When I got the head coaching job here, that���s something I didn't want to be the case," Flood said.
In the Pac-12 two new quarterbacks have been selected to replace signal callers that moved on to the professional ranks after last season.
The most high profile of those vacancies was the spot left open by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck at Stanford. Luck was a two-time Heisman runner-up and a major reason for the Cardinal's rise into the national spotlight over the past two seasons. His replacement will be senior Josh Nunes as announced on Tuesday by head coach David Shaw. The pick came just in time as this is the third and final week of training camp.
"If I had to make this decision the first week, that would have meant we wouldn't have had competition," Shaw said, "The fact that it took this long was a good thing because it was a battle."
Nunes beat out Brett Nottingham, Luck's backup from last season, to claim the starting gig. Luck had been the full-time starter since 2008 giving neither quarterback much opportunity to impress with past performances. Combined the two have six career completions. Such inexperience will not lower expectations on Nunes who will need to carve out his own identity from his predecessor.
"The great thing is that the path has been laid how to be a successful quarterback here at Stanford," Nunes said, "I have to realize, too, that I'm not Andrew Luck. By no means am I trying to be exactly him."
In his first year on the sidelines for Arizona State, Todd Graham will rely on redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly to run his high-octane offense. Kelly won the job over two other players vying for the position, including redshirt freshman Michael Eubanks and sophomore Mike Bercovici. All three were competing to replace Brock Osweiler, who threw for over 4,000 yards last season and was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft.
All signs pointed to Bercovici after the spring, but Kelly impressed in training camp and ultimately got the nod.
"He came in the first four days of camp and jumped out there," Graham said, "He was playing at a different level and then moved up in a hurry. He has just stayed there."
However, it is unlikely that Kelly will be the only quarterback to see action all season. Graham will likely use the more athletic Eubanks in running situations and Bercovici will certainly still push for time from the third spot.
"I will be honest with you, I have confidence in each of them but we have to move forward and going into week one we have to have somebody taking the one snaps," Graham said, "We will use two quarterbacks. How much and all that, we will have to see."
Meanwhile at Wisconsin a less surprising decision was made in starting Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien. Head coach Bret Bielema is hoping to strike gold again with an ACC transfer after Russell Wilson, who came over from NC State, exploded for the Badgers last season.
O'Brien will need to improve on his 2011 performance when he threw for 1,648 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 2-10 Maryland team.
In 2012 he will be given the reins to an offense on a team with national championship aspirations.