Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano became widely known for playing musical quarterbacks throughout his tenure with the Scarlet Knights.
But when Kyle Flood took over in January, he vowed to do things differently. He proved that last week in a loss to Kent State.
Gary Nova struggled throughout the game and ultimately threw an unsightly six interceptions in a 35-23 loss. Had Schiano still been around, you can all but bet Nova would have been yanked. He pulled quarterbacks in the middle of games for much less. Remember last season when he benched Chas Dodd in the second half against Syracuse after he threw an interception and Rutgers trailed 13-3?
Nova came in and led the victory, then started five straight games before being pulled himself for too many interceptions.
But last week, Flood never wavered on Nova.
"It gets more press when it’s the quarterback, but it’s not just the quarterback position that I feel that way about," Flood said. "It’s important when [players] establish themselves as a starter they have a chance to learn. You would love for all of the learning opportunities to come with success. But that’s not the reality of competitive Division I football. Sometimes those learning experiences come with losses."
Perhaps some believe that Flood should have gone with Dodd, who opened last season as the starter but lost a tough competition with Nova in August. But I think it is refreshing to see Flood stick behind one player. He has made a statement that Nova is the leader of this team and he is not backing down from that after one bad performance.
That should help boost Nova's confidence and the entire team's confidence. Nobody has to go around thinking, 'Here we go again.' Nova played a bad game. It happens. But he was not the only one who struggled against the Flashes. Up until last Saturday, Nova had three interceptions in seven games and was widely praised for being an effective game manager, something Rutgers wants out of him this year.
Has he been flashy? No. But that is not his job this year. Kent State was the exception to the way things have gone for him. So he deserves every right to come back and prove that was just a fluke of a game.
"Gary had an opportunity to bring us back in that game," Flood said. "I think all of those experiences, some more painful to go through than others, are going to be the reason why Gary ultimately becomes the quarterback we believe he will be."