By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – As Rutgers gets set to kickoff spring practice tomorrow, head coach Kyle Flood reiterated what he said after the Scarlet Knights’ loss in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
He’s sticking with Gary Nova at quarterback.
“Gary is our starter,” Flood said today.
The second-year head coach is excited to embark on the spring with a signal caller who started all 13 games last year.
“That’s the first time we’ve had a situation like that in a long time,” Flood said. “So it’s going to be interesting to see where he can take his game throughout the spring and he’s certainly been working on it throughout the offseason.”
While he’s spent the offseason knowing he is the incumbent starter, Flood feels backup Chas Dodd and the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster will push Nova.
“We have a guy in Chas Dodd who has started and won games here at Rutgers,” Flood said. “We also have players behind him that are going to have an opportunity behind him to play Rutgers football full-time. A guy like Blake Rankin, a guy like Chris Laviano, a guy like Mike Bimonte, so there is going to be an excellent competition competitiveness in that room and I think that’s going to make everyone in the room better.”
No one needs that more so than Nova.
He had an up and down season as a sophomore, completing 57% of his passes for 2,695 yards, 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. However, the difference between the first half of the season to the second half were drastic.
Nova had 15 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio through Rutgers’ 7-0 start. In the final six games where Rutgers went 2-4 he had a touchdown to interception ratio of 7 to 13.
“I think consistency of plays is the most important thing at that position,” Flood said. “And you could say that about every position, but I think at the quarterback position especially, the biggest jump I’d like to see Gary make from last year to this year is to still have the highs that we had, but maybe some of the other games where he wasn’t pleased with his performance, if we could move them up, then you have a more consistent higher level of play and then you play a better brand of winning football on offense.
And I think no matter what the offense is, there’s always going to be more of an emphasis placed on that position and quality of play at the quarterback position is crucial to play good offense and if we could avoid the lows and keep the highs, we have a chance to be better.”