Gary Nova hopes to turn the page

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
9:00
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Gary Nova has learned to let go. And the approach has the Rutgers quarterback more comfortable than ever this spring despite all of the new faces around him.

Three of his top four targets from 2012 are gone. So, too, is his offensive coordinator. And his top returning receiver, Brandon Coleman, has been sidelined all spring while recovering from a minor knee procedure.

But Nova has put the three-game slide that closed his last campaign to rest. He introduced a slimmer, quicker version of himself to Scarlet Knights teammates and coaches this spring, one that is ready to push ahead and build off a season that showed so much promise during a 7-0 start.

"Pretty much start from the bottom, start with all the fundamentals. My throwing mechanics, my feet and pretty much get my body in the best shape it can be going into spring practice," Nova told ESPN.com. "Now going into spring practice with a new offensive coordinator, just learning the system, getting a feel for Coach [Ron] Prince. And we have a lot of young receivers, try to get on the same page with this receiving corps and just try to lead this offense every day."

Prince was brought in this offseason to run Rutgers' attack after Dave Brock left to become the head coach at Delaware. Nova and the unit dealt with plenty of scrutiny late last season after it put up just 33 total points over its final three games in 2012, when a win in either of the first two would have clinched the school's first Big East title outright.

Nova completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in each of those games, throwing four interceptions during that stretch.

The junior admits to having been his own harshest critic, and he knows that he will need to be even more assertive this fall when dealing with green pass-catchers.

Coleman is expected to be fine come fall camp, but outside of his 718 yards and 10 scores from a year ago, the Scarlet Knights return just two wideouts (Quron Pratt, Miles Shuler) with any significant game action under their belts.

"It's been great," Nova said of the group he's worked with this spring. "They've all got great personalities, so it's fun. I think the three young guys have really stepped up: Ruhan Peele, Carlton [Agudosi] and Leonte Carroo. They've all stepped up. They're doing well. They're down here. They're all learning. They're asking questions and they want to learn, so that's great."

The real test will come this fall, during the school's final Big East campaign. And while last year's outfit did accomplish a program first in notching a share of the conference crown, Nova -- who said he dropped 15 pounds this offseason — knows there were several missed opportunities.

The key to capitalizing on those chances, he said, will be to forget about the blown ones.

"We just learn everything from situations that happen and not get too down on ourselves, just kind of moving on to the next play, doing things like that," Nova said. "And you learn that it's a long season, the games are long. When you go up early in the game you can't kind of tone it down; you've got to keep pressing and just learn a lot, and I'm looking forward to next season."

Matt Fortuna | email

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