Nova, Dodd to compete for starting


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Photo by Shirley Yu |

Several anti-Gary Nova signs appeared at the Rutgers Student Center bus stop after his three-interception performance.


Senior quarterback Chas Dodd might just start Saturday for the Rutgers football team against Temple.

After head coach Kyle Flood reviewed the film yesterday of Saturday’s 49-14 loss to Houston, he decided to open a starting quarterback competition between Dodd and junior Gary Nova.

“I think going through this week, Gary and Chas will take reps with the ones and the twos, and then we’ll make a decision on who’s going to start a little bit later in the week — probably on Thursday,” Flood said yesterday via teleconference.

Flood substituted Nova for Dodd once Nova threw his third interception of the game — his seventh in two games. Nova flicked it more than usual to the end zone, where cornerback Adrian McDonald stole it in the third quarter.

Offensive coordinator Ron Prince’s play calling showed more trust in Dodd than when he entered Sept. 14 against Eastern Michigan for a concussed Nova.

Rutgers rushed 25 times, and Dodd only passed nine times against Eastern Michigan, completing four. The Knights only rushed five times after Dodd entered Saturday, and he threw 11-for-15.

Part of those decisions possibly stemmed from the need to pass while trailing against Houston, but Prince at least did not blatantly avoid passing with Dodd against Houston.

“I try to prepare every week as if something like [Saturday] were to happen or if there was an injury,” Dodd said postgame. “So I’m going to keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing every week, and if my number’s called I plan to be ready.”

Flood said he did not consider inserting anyone but Dodd into the game when he substituted Nova out.

Possible candidates would have been sophomore Mike Bimonte — who Flood has said would have at least previously been the first off his bench behind Dodd — redshirt freshman Blake Rankin and freshman Chris Laviano.

“I really wanted to see Chas operate, and I wanted to see him operate the offense and operate at a little bit of a faster tempo,” Flood said. “And I was pleased with what I saw in both cases and if I wasn’t, then I think maybe my mind would have moved in that direction.”

No Rutgers quarterback has shown substantially greater talent than Nova, so this might not be the year he stops starting.

That might be next year, assuming Country Day (Mich.) School product Tyler Wiegers — a four-star recruit according to Rivals — follows through with his commitment on National Signing Day.

With Dodd gone next year, the starting quarterback job would likely be Nova’s to lose at least in training camp. But if Wiegers displays quick adjustment to college in practice, he could enter the starting competition.

Rutgers must adjust its practices to two different-styled quarterbacks this week. Nova played a pro style at Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep, and Dodd ran a spread offense at Byrnes (S.C.) High School.

Rutgers threw out the spread offense after Dodd’s freshman year in 2010, but Flood said implementing two different-styled quarterbacks is not enviable.

“I think in a perfect world, you have your starter, he takes 75 percent of the reps usually — that’s about what it would be — and you get ready for the game,” Flood said. “But with the situation we’re in right now, we have to make sure that everything we do going forward is in the best interest of being 1-0 this week.”

Flood kept Nova in the entire Kent State game last year, when he threw six interceptions on Homecoming.

Although Flood wants to open up a quarterback competition a year later for some poor performances, Nova said these games have helped him.

But he is well aware he might lose his job.

“That’s Coach Flood’s decision. I’m going to go out there and work my hardest throughout the week,” Nova said postgame. “I’m going to meet with my guys and go over the film and try to get better. And if he makes that decision, that’s him and I’ll support Chas. But if not, I’ll be the guy to win the games.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Josh Bakan on Twitter @JoshBakan. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

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