Rutgers tabs QB Gary Nova as starter

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Once Rutgers coach Kyle Flood ended months of speculation about who would be his starting quarterback, the winner of the competition took the news in stride.

"It was a nice moment to hear that I'm the starter, but now the real hard work starts for the season," Gary Nova said.

Flood announced the decision Monday, giving Nova the nod over Chas Dodd, who had started eight games as a sophomore last fall.

"I just felt like if you took the span of time from spring practice until now, Gary's body of work was a little bit better," said Flood, who will begin his first season when the Scarlet Knights travel to New Orleans to face Tulane on Sept. 1. "That's not to say that we've lost any confidence in Chas, because we haven't. We're extremely confident in Chas. If something would happen to Gary we would have no problem with Chas in the game. We know we could win every game on our schedule with him."

Unlike former coach Greg Schiano, who flip-flopped Nova and Dodd often last season, Flood has said he would prefer to avoid that weekly distraction by sticking with one quarterback this season.

"It was a great competition to watch, and ultimately we had to make a decision," Flood said. "I thought the program would be best served to have one voice going forward, and then have one quarterback who would have a chance to grow in that spot. And certainly Gary's body of work, he deserved that."

A sophomore out of New Jersey high school power Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, Nova has enjoyed a strong training camp, completing 22 of 32 passes for 334 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in two scrimmages.

"I had no idea," Nova said, recalling how he was told of Flood's long-awaited decision. "I was actually walking up to breakfast and I got grabbed to go see Coach. I didn't know what the decision was but I knew obviously that's what it was for. And I was just really excited for this opportunity."

Nova played in 10 games as a freshman, throwing for 1,553 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 116-for-227 passing. He started five times during the middle portion of Rutgers' 9-4 campaign, recording a 3-2 mark one year after concluding a prep career that included a 24-0 record and two New Jersey parochial championships at Don Bosco.

"Last year, I felt I was tentative, and obviously it showed," Nova said. "I made some freshman mistakes and stuff like that. This year, I felt I had a good understanding of it, and I was out there just playing loose. I think guys kind of fed off of that. Coach obviously believed in me, and I'm glad he made the decision he made."

In nine games last season, Dodd threw for 1,574 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Dodd has completed 55.7 percent and thrown for 3,211 yards in 20 games over the past two seasons. The South Carolina native earned the starting job in 2010 after an early-season competition with Tom Savage, who has since transferred to Pittsburgh.

"I was disappointed," Dodd said. "I mean, who wouldn't be? But I'm just going to embrace my role and wait until my number is called, and then just make sure I'm ready when it is."