By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Gary Nova entered uncharted territory on Saturday, and not in a good way. The sophomore’s six interceptions against Kent State were the most thrown by a quarterback in school history. It’s twice as many as his previous career-high thrown last year at Louisville and one more then he threw in two years as the starter at Don Bosco Prep.
Nova insisted after the game his confidence wasn’t shaken, and after practicing for the first time since the game, he feels the same way. However after watching the film a couple of times, Nova wished he had a few plays back. Five to be exact. All but the first interception thrown – where defensive end Mark Fackler was dropping into coverage – Nova felt were mistakes that he shouldn’t have made and fall squarely on his shoulders.
“Like you flush everything else,” Nova said of moving on from the game. “I wasn’t flustered at all. After the game I was upset, but I knew that our season was far from over. Obviously you want an undefeated season, but you got to take the punches and keep rolling.”
Which starts with practice. And his head coach was pleased with his quarterback’s demeanor.
“At that position, it’s as much about attitude, body language, all those things that go into being a great quarterback is more than just throwing the football,” Kyle Flood said. “And I thought he had a good day throwing the football today, but I thought as he walked out onto the practice field and started the individual periods you didn’t see any affects of the negative plays you had on Saturday.”
Which is just part of the character that Nova brings to the position.
“That just speaks to Gary’s make up,” Flood said. “Gary’s a winner and everybody would like to win all the time and nobody is able to, but I think the real winners are the one’s that are able to say, ‘ok, I know what happened and I’ve been able to digest it, able to analyze it and do everything I can not to make those mistakes again, but at the same time I’m the starting quarterback for a reason and am able to take the team to where it wants to go. ‘”
Which is to South Beach for the Orange Bowl. And it’ll be one quarterback getting them there. Flood said long before he picked Nova as his quarterback over Chas Dodd that he was a one quarterback coach. A sentiment that was put to the test on Saturday. But one Nova knew his first-year head coach would stick too.
“When coach Flood told me at the beginning of the year that I was his guy I don’t think he would tell me that and pull me out of a game like that,” Nova said, adding. “This is my team and we’re going to ride or die by how I play.”
Which needs to be better then it was Saturday. Or mainly, just more mistake free. Something Nova knows, and has learned from. But now, it’s time to look ahead.
“You never want to lose a game. Especially when we were doing so well, playing so hot and kind of setting ourselves up for the dream,” Nova said. “But our dream is still there. Win the Big East Championship and eventually go to the Orange Bowl and stuff like that, so we just got to do what we have to do.”