Knights back Nova after turnover-prone game against Penn State
It appears to be the same old story for the Rutgers football team’s fan base after a close loss to a good team, while in the spotlight during the nationally televised game.
When it comes down to a tight margin, the fans jump to think what could have been done better and what plays, if they never happened, could have swung the result in their favor.
Much of the burden of Saturday night’s loss to Penn State falls on the shoulders of senior quarterback Gary Nova.
And, according to Nova, rightfully so.
“I don’t really want to revisit the game, but bottom line, they’re all on me,” Nova said of his five interceptions against Penn State. “I would say probably 95 percent of the time, yeah [I’m comfortable with my decision-making]. The other five percent ended up being tragic turnovers, but I can’t change that now — just got to move forward.”
But head coach Kyle Flood was quick to recognize that not all of the interceptions Nova threw were his fault.
Before Flood said Nova will remain the starter in a teleconference Sunday, he came to the quarterback’s defense postgame Saturday to explain some of the costly interceptions Nova threw.
“The first one is a tip. One of them is a shot to a guy who makes a lot of plays for us, No. 4. I know one of them was a good decision, bad location, so it’s a physical error,” Flood said. “Is it a concern? Yeah, absolutely it’s a concern. You don’t win a lot of games if you turn it over five times.”
The Scarlet Knights still have full confidence in Nova and his ability to play quarterback effectively moving forward.
Senior fullback Michael Burton is one of those who believe in Nova’s poise.
“I’m very confident in Gary. He had a great practice last night, and I know he’s looked at the film and made the corrections just like everyone else has,” Burton said. “He’s ready to move forward, just like the rest of the team, and get ready to play Navy.”
Junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo has known Nova longer than anyone else on the team, dating back to playing high school football at Don Bosco (New Jersey) Prep.
When Nova performs poorly in a game, Carroo said it is best to give the quarterback a pat on the back, some words of encouragement and then they can move on.
But since Carroo has known Nova, the senior has matured in the way he handles coming off a poor game.
“Now that Gary is a senior and he is our captain, [he is] mature about the situation. He knows we have a game next week, and that is all he can focus on,” Carroo said. “He doesn’t focus on what the media is saying or what people think of him. He’s just focused on us right now as a team and what he can do to get better to help us.”
Although much of the student body is hard on Nova, still calling him Gary ‘Turn’ Nova, and the media is still hounding him about his decision-making, perhaps no one is harder on Nova than himself.
After holding himself accountable for the errant throws, he acknowledged he has to do better.
“I’m not one for sympathy nor do I try to reach out to anyone to help me because I know, at the end of the day, it’s all on me,” Nova said. “I have to be the one to turn it around. People have been great supporting me. Guys on the team, Coach Flood and Coach Friedgen have all been supportive. But, I just have to keep moving forward.”
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