The Rutgers Scarlet Knights had a great opportunity to make a splash in the AAC race on Thursday night against the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals. They contained Heisman Trophy favorite Teddy Bridgewater for most of the night and played the favored Cardinals extremely tough on the road. In the end, they couldn’t keep up with Louisville thanks to the rough night of Gary Nova under center. Will he be able to bounce back to lead this offense the rest of the season?
There are rough nights and then there’s what happened to Nova on Thursday. The junior signal caller completed just 19 of 36 passes for 202 yards, averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt, with one touchdown and four interceptions. He turned the ball over twice late in the game that allowed Louisville to ultimately pull away. The turnovers squandered the monster effort of the Rutgers defense and spoiled a night when Nova was spreading the ball around pretty nicely.
Going forward, Nova is still expected to be the leader of this offense. The loss at Louisville snapped a nice four-game winning streak and dropped the Knights to 1-1 in conference play. Nova can’t get bogged down with his poor performance, however, as the AAC race is still far from over. They’re trailing Louisville, obviously, but still have very important games ahead of them, including next week against the Houston Cougars. Houston has played well early this season and will be a tough challenge for Rutgers.
If Nova allows the funk from his poor performance this week to linger, Rutgers is going to watch this one conference loss spiral into two (and possibly more). Nova has to step up as a leader of this team, put the interceptions behind him and get Rutgers back on the winning path next week.