It's not often when playing a true freshman quarterback leads to victories. However, this has been the case for the Rutgers University football program, which has won three straight games and on Monday announced, through its head coach Greg Schiano, that true freshman quarterback Gary Nova will start his second straight game Saturday against visiting Navy (2 p.m. on ESPN3). Currently, Rutgers (4-1, 2-0 Big East Conference) is atop of the league standings.
Nova, who played sparingly during the first three weeks of the season, made his first collegiate start last week and helped lead the Scarlet Knights to a decisive, 34-10, upset victory over Big East Conference foe the University of Pittsburgh. Nova finished the game 11-of-24 with 174-passing yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, Nova didn't throw an interception.
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In Week 5 at Syracuse University, Nova didn't start, but entered the game midway through the third quarter after starting quarterback, sophomore Chas Dodd, struggled to get the offense moving. With the game 13-3 in favor of the Orange, Nova went 13-of-21 with 118 yards and tossed a game-tying touchdown to junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu with 2:09 remaining in regulation. Rutgers completed its come-from-behind victory, 19-16, in double overtime.
A day later, Schiano was uncertain about who would start against Pittsburgh saying that he was going decided later in the week. In the end, Nova got the starting nod.
"We see potential all the time,' said Schiano on Monday. "The reality is we had one quarterback in our program that had ever taken a college snap. So we thought it was critical that Gary gets snaps just in case he needs to go in."
"As things began to evolve, those snaps served him well Saturday and served him well in the second half at Syracuse."
It seems as if Nova is the best option for this young but talented Rutgers squad, which is also slowly developing true freshman running back Savon Huggins. Being a personal witness of Nova's performance against Syracuse, it was clear the Scarlet Knights offense had a lot more potential with Nova than Dodd. Moving forward, Nova is the answer for Rutgers not Dodd, who will make a very nice serviceable backup.
However, Rutgers fans know how back-and-forth Schiano came be about his quarterbacks. Earlier last year, Schiano couldn't decided on starting either Dodd or sophomore quarterback Tom Savage. Like Dodd, Savage began the year as stater, but in the end lost out to Dodd. Savage transferred after the season.
Scarlet Knights faithful can only hope Schiano sticks to his guns on this one and makes it clear to everyone that the quarterback will be Nova. Of course, everyone needs to hope that Nova continues to play well and progress as the season goes along.