By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – The stat is as impressive as it is surprising. No matter how you put it – four straight games, 153 straight passes, 19 consecutive quarters – Gary Nova’s last interception is a distant memory.
Since the opening drive of the Howard game, Gary Nova hasn’t thrown it to the opposing team. While his numbers aren’t dazzling through six games – 1,271 yards and 11 touchdowns – the fact that he hasn’t turned the ball over his last four outings is an unexpected and notable accomplishment.
“It’s something I’m aware of,” Nova said of the streak. “I’m not thinking about it too much, but I’m just going out there and trying to do my job.”
Which is to manage the game.
With a strong running game and a ferocious defense who stops the run and causes turnovers, Nova understands his role. More times than not, he’s the engineer of a conservative offense that’s not going to throw the ball all over the place.
With that in mind, Nova prepared for the season by getting used to throwing the ball out of harms way rather than into tight windows.
“Lots of times during the summer I was practicing throwing the ball away and throwing it into the ground, running,” Nova said. “And just understand certain situations in the game.”
After throwing nine interceptions as a true freshman last season while splitting time at quarterback with Chas Dodd, Nova knew the turnovers were his Achilles heel. If he wanted to win the job over Dodd, he had to take better care of the football.
Every time he would see his high school head coach Greg Toal, he’d be reminded of just that. And the Don Bosco Prep product could look to his high school days as a learning point.
The powerhouse high school had it’s fair share of playmakers for Nova to get the ball too, just like he has at Rutgers.
“At Bosco I played with a lot of great players. I didn’t have to do too much. Just get those guys the ball and let them run around,” Nova said. “ And I feel like I’m doing the same thing here. Just get these guys the ball – Brandon Coleman, Mark [Harrison] – and let them run around and have fun.”
All while managing the game, and of course, not turning the ball over.
“I knew if I didn’t turn the ball over that I could get the job done at the quarterback position,” Nova said. “And I feel like I’m doing that.”