The senior quarterback went down with an apparent knee injury just before halftime, and his status is uncertain moving forward, said coach Kyle Flood. Nova tried to return but the job fell on backup Chris Laviano t o finish the fight.
“I don’t even know if we’ll have [an update] tomorrow,” Flood said. “I think we’re going to have to wait this one out a couple of days.”
Nova was not made available to the media after the game. The injury took place as halftime approached. Nova took a hard hit to his shoulder on the previous drive, but Flood and offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen stayed aggressive in the final 60 seconds.
Nova attempted four straight passes out of shotgun, starting from his 2-yard line, with the fourth being his final snap. As his protection broke down, Nova bootlegged to his right and threw as defensive tackle Maliek Collins dragged him down.
Nova’s right ankle and knee twisted up during the hit, and trainers helped him off the field after working on the knee for three minutes.
“They were getting the ball in the second half,” Flood said on the play-calling. “I felt like we needed to be aggressive. I felt like we needed to give ourselves an opportunity to see if we can get some points there at the end of the first half. I said that to Ralph right before the drive started, and he called the plays accordingly.”
Laviano became the next-man up, and led three scoring drives.
“I was getting ready,” Laviano said. “I was prepared all week. My number was called, so I just tried to contribute my part to the best of my ability. … I think I could have done more with some of the drives, but I just tried to execute every play as best as possible.”
The Rutgers (5-3, 1-3) defense allowed Abdullah to exceed already high expectations with a poor effort. The Husker senior made big play after big play, and finished with 341 total yards, three touchdowns and the return of Heisman Trophy buzz.
“We play great players week in and week out,” said senior Lorenzo Waters. “They did an exceptional job today on us. Much respect to [Abdullah]. He did a great job.”
Flood spoke after the loss about the defensive struggles and an injury to his starting quarterback.