Nova displays poise in 2-minute drill situation
In 47 seconds, junior quarterback Gary Nova drove the Rutgers football team 33 yards to give the Scarlet Knights a chance last Saturday against Temple.
A 33-yard game-winning touchdown toss to sophomore wide receiver Leonte Carroo capped the comeback win.
While the culmination of Carroo’s play will be the one fans remember, Nova’s performance in the 2-minute drill was the effort that cemented Nova as the starter under center.
“I think it’s just a time to step up and a time to win the game,” Nova said. “You’re a quarterback, and you want the ball in those moments, and everybody is looking at you to make those plays and drive down the field and score.”
Nova’s supporting cast made four crucial plays that allowed Carroo to break free for his score. A 10-yard reception by sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft was sandwiched between running back Savon Huggins’ two catches out of the backfield.
But it was Nova’s sideline pass to senior wideout Quron Pratt that might have been the most important of all.
After looking to his right, Nova turned left and fired a pass toward the Rutgers sideline. Pratt broke free from linebacker Blaze Caponegro to catch the pass and run out of bounds.
Not only did the reception stop the clock to set up the pass to Carroo, but according to Pratt, it showcased what Nova was able to replicate the week prior in practice.
“He just went out there the calmest person on the field, and he just listened to his coaches and made the right reads he had to make in the 2-minute drill so we could execute and play at a high level,” Pratt said.
Nova said the offense practices that situation regularly, allowing him to get in sync with his receivers in situations such as the one against Temple.
Nova admitted he feels comfortable in 2-minute situations, but credits the players around him for performing what he described as the “hard part.”
“I have the easy part. I just have to put it on them and let those guys make plays,” Nova said.
Flood said redshirt freshman Ruhann Peele will remain at cornerback at least through the Knights’ game Nov. 21 against Central Florida.
Peele moved from wideout to corner during the practice week for Temple. The Linden, N.J., native collected one sack against the Owls and forced a crucial fumble he recovered at the end of the game to seal a 23-20 victory.
“Ruhann played a significant role in the game Saturday,” Flood said. “And with more practice time through the bye week and more time in the classroom with [secondary] coach [Darrell] Wilson and [defensive coordinator Dave] Cohen, I think we can increase what he can do for us.”
With the extent of junior center Betim Bujari’s injury still in question, Flood said it is important to build depth at the position during the bye week.
“We’ll get a read on Betim a little bit later [in the week], but Dallas has played for us and has done a nice job,” Flood said. “But beyond that we don’t have anyone who’s done it and that’s something we need to address.”
Senior Dallas Hendrickson replaced Bujari in the third quarter Saturday against Temple after Bujari suffered an ankle injury and did not return.
Senior offensive lineman Antwan Lowery also worked with the first-team offense at center, though it remains undecided if he will appear there next Saturday against Cincinnati.
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