When the 15th ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights went into the half against Temple, down 10-0, many a Rutgers fan had to have hung their head and thought, “Well, it was fun while it lasted.” For Rutgers fans have been here before, just when the team looks like it’s taken a step forward, they take two steps back before completely falling flat on their faces. However, when the course of the game looked irreversible, the Scarlet Knights buckled down and completely took control, scoring 35 unanswered second half points, thus affording fans another week of bliss and BCS dreams.
The key reason for that comeback was the play of Big East Offensive Player of the Week, Gary Nova and his 17-of-27, 232 yard, 4 touchdown performance.
Nova, the sophomore out of Don Bosco, is maturing at a pace that is as alarming for other Big East members as it is exciting for Rutgers fans. Nova’s beginning to carry the Rutgers offense on his back. His cool demeanor under pressure makes him look more like a fifth year senior than the player that looked way out of his league as a Freshman.
It’s a welcome sight at High Points Solutions Stadium, the solid play coming from the QB position. Game changing play under center has been lacking over the last couple of years ever since the departure of the school’s most prolific passer, Mike Teel. There have been a few false starts with highly touted Tom Savage and unheralded Chas Dodd, but nothing of particular note. Nova, may finally be the steady hand at QB, he may also be something much, much more.
When Mike Teel was a sophomore, it was during the 11-2 2006 dream season, but what few may remember is that the team rode Ray Rice’s legs more than Teel’s arm. Teel didn’t do a whole lot until the final few weeks. His 2006 numbers were nothing to write home about, 2135 yards, 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions.
Nova in only 7 games has surpassed 2006 Teel’s touchdown total with 15. He’s only just a tad over 600 yards shy of Teel’s final yardage total, and he’s only thrown a mere 3 interceptions. Projected over 13 games that put’s Nova’s final numbers at 2791 Yards and 28 touchdowns. Both numbers put him in the Rutgers history books, his yardage good for fourth, and his touchdown total would comfortably put him in first. All in only Nova’s second season.
It’s easy to see why everyone is so excited about the chances of this team. Every year the Scarlet Knights seemed to be on the cusp of greatness, some missing piece would bite the team in the backside and scuttle their conference championship hopes. This year, they have the stout defense, the consistent running game, and most importantly in the air it out era of football, the quarterback.
With Gary Nova continuing to play big and progressing at the rate he is, a BCS bowl should no longer be a dream around Rutgers. It should be a reality.
SNY Broadcast of the Rutgers-Temple game 10-20-12