QB Nova Knows He Must Stop Turnovers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova threw seven interceptions in the last three games and also lost a few fumbles. The freshman said this week he must stop committing turnovers or he wouldn't blame the staff of making a change. But how does he change his game? He gave that answer and many more during his weekly meeting with the media.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Gary Nova's confidence is never a question, not even in the face of nine turnovers in three games, but he knows his mental approach inside of games must be changed.

However, harnessing the confidence inside of games is what is creating the turnover problems, and it is something the Rutgers freshman must still figure out.

Many of his interceptions – he has seven in his last three starts – are a result of forcing passes he thinks he can make, and several have come with defenders bracketing a receiver.

"You have to learn that in college it's a long game, and it's ok to punt," Nova said. "It's ok to let the defense get you a stop and get the ball back. In high school, you think you can make every play. Now, you just have to know to throw it away and live for the next series."

It is not an easy philosophy to accept.

In two years as a starter at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), Nova didn't lose a game. He also threw 41 touchdowns and five interceptions.

So, how does Nova learn to pull back, and not try to make every pass?

"Experience," he said. "I think I've done a better job from the beginning of the year, and I'm going to continue to get better at it.

"Nobody wants to lose, but my confidence isn't down at all. I still believe in the things we can do."

Nova is 91 of 178 for 1,125 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. But beyond the interceptions, there are also a handful of fumbles, including dropping the ball while in the pocket against West Virginia and snap problems with center Caleb Ruch.

And while Rutgers coach Greg Schiano plans to start Nova for a fourth straight game, a continuation of the turnovers Saturday against South Florida could lead to backup Chas Dodd returning to action.

"I wouldn't blame him if I keep turning the ball over …if he has nothing to but take me out," Nova said.

Nova is starting ahead of Dodd for a number of reasons, including his pocket presence, his ability to feel pressure and move, and his ability to throw on the run and make plays after protection breaks down.

He said his command of the huddle and leadership are two of the intangibles he brings to the offense, but there is also plenty he must do better, and it doesn't always involve throwing the ball.

"Just run game (execution), and understanding defenses, and getting us out of a bad play," Nova said. "Footwork, carrying out (play-action) fakes, all that stuff."

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