Nova's Status Uncertain After Concussion

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood discussed the latest on injured quarterback Gary Nova and outside linebacker Jamal Merrell in his day-after teleconference. Rutgers defeated Eastern Michigan 28-10 and is set to face Arkansas Saturday on primetime television.

Rutgers could be without half of its team captains for what projects as the most hyped home game in the Kyle Flood era. Quarterback Gary Nova suffered a concussion in the victory over Eastern Michigan and outside linebacker Jamal Merrell was unable to be at the game because of injury.

Nova received a concussion diagnosis yesterday, which Flood confirmed during his Sunday morning conference call.

"Gary has a concussion," Flood said. "I have not spoken to the doctors today. They're going to see Gary when he comes in [to the Hale Center] in a little bit. They're going to re-evaluate it. These things can span a wide spectrum from a day or two and be back to playing again to missing weeks. I'm not sure exactly what part of the spectrum we're on."

Nova took two hard hits in the first quarter against Eastern Michigan, including a roughing the passer penalty where the opponent drove his helmet into Nova's chin and facemask. Nova left the game a perfect 4-for-4 passing and did not return to the sidelines.

Flood will have an update on Nova's condition Monday morning at his weekly press conference.

"I'm not sure exactly which one [the concussion] could have happened on," Flood said. "They both involve helmet-to-helmet contact. I think the game is played so fast that it's hard at times for the officials to see everything. I think [Eastern Michigan] coach [Ron] English runs a good program. I don't think they have players who intentionally do those kinds of things."

Senior Chas Dodd becomes the starting quarterback during Nova's absence, moving sophomore Mike Bimonte into the second-team role.

"I think Chas will shake the rust off a little bit this week if he's called upon," Flood said. "Now if Gary is in a situation where he can't go, Chas will get the bulk of the reps as the starting quarterback and that will help. He's somebody that has certainly performed better in games than he did on Saturday and I think he will."

Merrell was one of a handful of players unavailable for Saturday. His undisclosed injury kept him from being at the game.

"Jamal was not at the game yesterday," Flood said. "I think what we missed about it is him on the field and he's an exceptional player. He's one of the better open-field tacklers on our team. … When you get a guy like Jamil Merrell back, I don't think there's any emotional issues with our defense. I think we just have some guys that need to do a little bit better job tackling."

Redshirt freshman Davon Jacobs and sophomore Quentin Gause filled in for Merrell against Eastern Michigan with junior Kevin Snyder playing more of a coverage role.

"I think some of those guys performed well at times," Flood said. "I think what we saw on defense, and we've got to continue to work on it and we are working on it, is some of the lesser experienced players that are on the field for us need to tackle better."

News and Notes Running back Paul James leads the NCAA with 493 rushing yards through three games. He finished with 192 and three touchdowns against Eastern Michigan.

"I thought he was excellent," Flood said. "The most impressive thing he's doing right now is continuing to make explosive plays in the run game. It's an extremely valuable commodity."

Also on the injury front, Flood expects center Betim Bujari and tight end Paul Carrezola to be available for Arkansas. Safety Jeremy Deering left the EMU game with a foot injury. Guard Andre Civil is expected back after the bye week.

Kickers Kyle Federico and Nick Borgese will battle for the right to start against Arkansas after struggles in the first three games.

Rutgers and Arkansas kick off at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.


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