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Recipe for Success

Why head coach Kyle Flood believes the football team will go places during the 2013 season.

Quarterback Gary Nova
Starting quarterback Gary Nova is coming off a season during which he threw for close to 2,700 yards and 22 touchdowns. His starting role marks the first time in five years that a Scarlet Knights quarterback returns after playing the entire previous season. Photography courtesy of Rutgers Athletics

Kyle Flood compiled a 9-4 record in 2012, his rookie season as the head coach of the Scarlet Knights football team. But with a school-record seven players chosen in the National Football League (NFL) draft, Flood had plenty of decisions to make in piecing together the personnel for this year’s team. If key players do what they are capable of doing, Flood believes, the team is in a good position to go places during the 2013 season.

 

#1 Quarterback Gary Nova
Nova showed signs of brilliance in 2012, throwing 22 touchdowns and racking up 2,695 yards through the air. Now a junior, he’s the first Rutgers quarterback in five years to have started every game the previous season. “As Gary goes into this year, there’s really nothing he hasn’t seen and nothing he hasn’t experienced,” Flood says. “I couldn’t be happier than where he is right now.”

#2 The Secondary
The secondary lost three members of the 2012 unit to the NFL draft, but their replacements come with experience of their own. Fifth-year senior Lew Toler transferred to Rutgers after starting three seasons at Western Michigan, and senior Jeremy Deering moved from wide receiver. “How quickly we can get that unit to play together is going to be one of the keys to what we’re doing as a football team,” Flood says.

#3 The Running Game
Flood wants to return the Knights’ ground game to its heyday of 2005–07, when Ray Rice shredded defenses for nearly 5,000 yards and 49 touchdowns, both Rutgers records. The early departure of Jawan Jamison to the NFL gives junior tailback Savon Huggins (410 yards/two touchdowns) an opportunity to become what Flood calls “the featured back.”

#4 Special Teams
Flood is counting on fifth-year senior Nick Marsh, a transfer from Utah, to improve the punting game from a year ago. “If he can get that done during the games,” Flood says, “we’ve got a chance to significantly help ourselves with the special teams.”

#5 Staying Healthy
“I don’t know any college football coach that feels great about their depth,” Flood says. “The last piece of the puzzle is going to be staying healthy so that we can continue to play at a high level throughout the year.” •

                                                                                                                                             — Christopher Hann