Rugters’ QB Nova poised to lead Scarlet Knights

Story posted September 11, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

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Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova launches his first pass of the game against Washington State, a 78-yard touchdown to Leonte Carroo in the first half of Rutgers' week one win over the Cougars in Seattle. The Scarlet Knights look to make it 3-0 behind the arm of its senior gunslinger. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When the Nittany Lions head into High Point Solutions Stadium to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, one of their main focuses will be stopping the Scarlet Knights offense, led by quarterback Gary Nova.

The senior leader has been a focal point of the offense since his freshman season. While he has experienced growing pains and dealt with an up-and-down career, Nova seems to have figured things out in his final season commanding Rutgers’ attack.

Tabbed the 11th best pocket passer by Rivals.com out of high school, Nova chose Rutgers over Boston College, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

After a career at Don Bosco Prep in which he didn’t lose a game as a starter (24-0), Nova found immediate success with the Scarlet Knights. Heading into this season, Nova had started 28 career games for Rutgers throwing for 6,407 yards and tossing 51 touchdowns.

Nova has struggled with accuracy and interceptions, completing over 55 percent of his passes for a season just once in his career and throwing 39 picks in 33 games played. However, Nova has yet to turn the ball over this season and continues to mature the way head coach Kyle Flood would hope. 

“Gary Nova, their senior quarterback, I think is playing really well right now,” Coach James Franklin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. 

While Rutgers’ first two games have come against Washington State and Howard University, Nova has shown poise and confidence in the pocket.

“(Nova) is completing 67 percent of his passes and is playing with real confidence,” Franklin said. 

Some of Nova’s improvements and confidence can be attributed to new offensive coordinator, Ralph Friedgen. The former head coach at Maryland that hired Franklin as his offensive coordinator, Friedgen is in his first season at Rutgers and his impact is already visible.

“He's made a noticeable difference in their offense and their confidence and consistency,” Franklin said of Friedgen.

Nova has flourished to this point in Friedgen’s pro-style offense, and with the help of stud running back Paul James, has elevated the Rutgers offense to number two in the Big Ten in scoring. 

Through their first two wins, Nova is third nationally in passing efficiency percentage (208.9) and first in the Big Ten conference. The matchup with Penn State will certainly be an interesting one. While it will be no easy task, if the Nittany Lions are able to contain the run game like they did against UCF and Akron, it will be up to Nova to provide the offensive spark.

This will be only the fourth time that the Nittany Lions will play on Rutgers’ campus, and 25th time overall. The last time these two teams met was in 1995, but the hostility between these teams and fan bases has sprung the possibility of a potential rivalry.

While the fans and coaching staffs have provided a spark off the field, it will be up to Nova to provide the fireworks on the field for the Rutgers offense. The Scarlet Knights will take on the Nittany Lions at 8 p.m. Saturday Night. Tune into ComRadio for complete coverage beginning at 6 p.m. with The Opening Drive.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Jeff Jezewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jeffjez13@gmail.com.