GEICO SportsNite: Rutgers’ 1st Big Ten win

SNY’s Chris Carlin talks with Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood about the Scarlet Knights’ 26-24 win over Michigan Saturday night.

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Flood: Nova not vindicated

Gary Nova’s 404 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Michigan were far from vindication for the much-maligned Rutgers quarterback.

Nova, who threw five interceptions in a loss to Penn State in the Scarlet Knights’ Big Ten opener in September, was nearly flawless against Michigan on Saturday night. His career-high in passing couldn’t have come at a better time.

Head coach Kyle Flood, who has stood behind Nova for three years, likes his senior quarterbacks toughness.

“I don’t believe in vindication,” Flood said. “I’ve talked to the team about that. You know, after our first loss of the season, I said to them, I said, you know, winning the next week doesn’t make up for it. You have to turn the page. You have to put your eyes forward. I think the team in general has done a good job of that. I think Gary has done an excellent job of that. I think he’s gotten better each week since that performance.

“What I do think that speaks to is how mentally tough he is, because there’s a lot of positions on a football team, but none of them are like being the starting quarterback, and I think he’s handled that position very well. He’s gotten better at it in his career, and I think this year, he’s done an excellent job. And again, coming off a couple weeks ago, what wasn’t a great performance, he’s put together three in a row where he’s gotten better and I’m proud of him for that.”

Nova, who has had his share of criticism for his play, had perhaps his finest moment on Saturday night.

“It’s great. It’s something you remember forever,” Nova said. “That’s the reason you play college football – for moments like that. It feels good because I played well and everybody played well around me. To get this done for Coach Flood and for my team is great. ”

The Scarlet Knights are now 5-1 and will play a gauntlet of games against the best the Big Ten with a game at Ohio State in two weeks.

NCAA Football: Utah at Michigan

Michigan stumbles into Rutgers

Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Brady Hoke and struggling Michigan are in trouble heading into Saturday and they have to hope that surprising Rutgers doesn’t add to their problems when they meet at 7:00 p.m. at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Hoke and the Wolverines football program spent the past week under the microscope after the coach left sophomore quarterback Shane Morris on the field for two plays following a hit to the head last weekend in a loss to Minnesota.

Hoke has taken responsibility for the program’s breakdown in communication and plans to start Devin Gardner against Rutgers (4-1, 0-1).

The problems for Hoke and Michigan (2-3, 0-1) are compounded by their play on the field. They have lost two straight games and the three losses by the end of September are the most in the program’s storied history.

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GEICO SportsNite: Kyle Flood

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood talks to SNY’s Chris Carlin about QB Gary Nova improving over the last 2 games, and also about the upcoming matchup with Michigan.

Flood concerned about James

Paul James left Saturday’s 31-24 win over Navy with an apparent knee injury (NJ.com, Sept. 20) and for the second straight year could miss time with an injury.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood is concerned about the right knee (Sargeant, Sept. 20)  that was hit with a helmet. James was in crutches after the game.

“I don’t know if we’ll really know until tomorrow when he gets looked at,” Flood said. “I am (concerned). P.J. has been one of our better players over the last two years.”

Last year, James rushed for 881 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing four games with a broken fibula.

 

Game recap: Penn State 13 — Rutgers 10

Result: The Scarlet Knights lost to the Nittany Lions Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Rutgers’ Big Ten Conference debut.



Need to Know: Rutgers (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) couldn’t overcome QB Gary Nova’s five interceptions. Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg led an 80-yard TD drive late in the fourth quarter. Bill Belton’s 5-yard run with 1:13 left capped the drive for the Nittany Lions (3-0, 1-0). The key play was a 53-yard pass from Hackenberg to Geno Lewis. Nova threw his final interception on Rutgers’ next possession. .. Defense and special teams nearly saved the Knights. Rutgers held Penn State to 100 yards in the first half and blocked a punt and a field goal. The Knights have blocked 39 kicks since 2009, tops in the nation. . . Jason McCourty replaced Ray Rice in the montage of former Rutgers players in the NFL shown between the first and second quarters. . . .The crowd of 53,774 set a stadium record.


Game ball: Hackenberg (24-for-43, 287 yards, 1 interception, 0 TD)


Links: AP recap | Box score


What’s Next: The Scarlet Knights visit Navy Sept. 20 (3:30 p.m.)

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Rutgers’ Big Ten day finally arrives

For two years,  the big question about Rutgers football has been how competitive the Scarlet Knights will be in the Big Ten.

Saturday night at 8,  they’ll start providing answers when they host Penn State at High Point Solutions Stadium in their first game in their new, prestigious conference (AP, Sept. 12).

Both teams are 2-0. Bur in terms of tradition and on-field success, Penn State is far ahead of the Knights, whose invitation had more to do with New Jersey’s population and demographics. The game is on the Big Ten Network, an already profitable channel expected to benefit greatly by expanding into the Garden State.

“I think we just need to come out and play our game and show the world what we can do because a lot of people were writing us off at the beginning of the year,” said Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft from Downingtown, Pa. “I guess we’re starting to get a little more attention now being 2-0 and heading into the Big Ten, but I think we need to come out and play how we can play: fast and physical. Show the world that we belong here and we’re going to be a staple in the Big Ten.”

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