Commentary: Quarterbacks Take the Spotlight

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Mixed messages came out of Rutgers football's media availability with coach Kyle Flood and quarterbacks Gary Nova and Chas Dodd. Nova and Dodd check in as co-starters on the released depth chart, and is here to look at what it means and what comes next.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Ask Gary Nova, and the quarterback battle is already decided. Speaking Monday morning, Nova stated that he saw his normal Sunday workload with the ones and will prepare as the starter.

Being in a competition, or listing senior Chas Dodd as a co-starter, was news to him when the questions started.

"[Coach Kyle Flood] never told me that [he was opening it up]," Nova said. "I'm just going in, getting ready for the game like I'm the starter and getting ready to play. … I got all of the reps with the ones [on Sunday], so I don't know what's going on there. Like I said, I'm just going to prepare as hard as I can. If Chas gets the nod, I'll be there to help him as much as I can."

Ask Flood, or Dodd, and that was not the case. Flood said in his press conference that the pair split work Sunday.

Dodd took snaps with the first team offense during 11-on-11 drills, and ran the two-minute offense as a starter.

Confidence has never been a concern for Nova, but his comments about the state of the quarterbacks remain strange.

Did he misunderstand the question? Unlikely given that he gave the answer multiple times to multiple reporters. So what does it mean? Nova expects to start, and more importantly, expects to play well against Temple.

"As far as leading this offense, I feel like the guys have confidence in me to get the job done," Nova said. "I just have to go out there and do it."

The Rutgers offense was quick to stand in support of Nova after the loss, and that did not change Monday morning.

After the loss Saturday, true freshman John Tsimis said, "he'll definitely bounce back. He'll be ready."

Sophomore receiver Leonte Carroo echoed his confidence in the quarterback position.

"We've already moved on," he said. "It's no different than any other week. Both quarterbacks have won a lot of games here. Whichever one goes out there is going to get the job done. Gary has bounced back before, and I am just as confident in Chas."

Looking at the Temple game, Nova brings a wider option of play-calls, more experience and a better skill set within the pro-style offense. But is that what really matters this week?

Rutgers is a heavy favorite to 1-7 Temple, and has superior athletes at most position groups. Yes, the Scarlet Knights are in an ugly slump, but a heavy passing effort, or big plays, is not what gets them out of it.

Rutgers, as Flood said, needs someone to be accurate and smart. Rutgers needs a game manager against Temple. This is the kind of game where a quarterback does not need to win you the game, just not lose it.

Dodd fits that mindset in many ways, and remains a legitimate option for Rutgers to bounce back, and come within a game of bowl eligibility.

"This is my last year, and I'm wanting to make the most of it," Dodd said. "That's what I'm planning on doing. It's just a matter of going out and practicing and proving to the coaches that I want the position."

The decision at starting quarterback is unlikely to be made public until about 11:30 a.m. Saturday during warmups, but Nova appears to have a lead based on his attitude and commentary Monday.

Nova is in a slump similar to the end of last season, but regardless of what happens this week, Temple has slump-busting potential. The Owls come to Rutgers looking to make a statement, but Nova made one of his own last year with four touchdowns and 232 yards last year at Lincoln Financial Field.

"No disrespect to Houston or anything like that, but it was all on us," Nova said. "We got in our own way. A big part was how I played and decisions I made. You can't look back on it. You have to move forward."

Go with Dodd, and Rutgers will get an intelligent backup that showed he is not as bad as he looked against Eastern Michigan. Dodd struggled with operating the running game the last time he lost his job, but has more talent around him this time.

"I feel good," Dodd said. "I feel better than I have. I know I've been putting a lot of time into [preparation], and knowing where I need to go with the ball depending on what the defense does. Obviously this week has got to be good for us."

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