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Friday, August 30, 2013

Rutgers' Gary Nova's season opener revolves around quick-twitch decisions

Ten of Gary Nova's 41 pass attempts Thursday night left his hand in less than two seconds. Coordinator Ron Prince's offense has been based around quick reads, Nova said. (Tyler Barto)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Gary Nova recorded 41 pass attempts against Fresno State, the fourth most of his career. I timed how long each throw took from the snap to release.

Nova averaged 2.56 seconds between the center exchange and finding a receiver. It's a solid number considering 61 percent of his throws came from under center and not the shotgun. 

For reference, the Eagles' Chip Kelly — in an offense run largely from the shotgun — wants the ball out of his quarterback's hands in 1.5 seconds.

"I've always felt like Gary does a good job of trying to get the ball out on time, make sure he doesn't sit there and hold it longer than he should be holding it," head coach Kyle Flood said in Friday's teleconference, an hour after landing from Fresno, Calif. "I think he continued to do a good job with it, (and) I thought he did a good job with it last year. 

Nova found a receiver Thursday in less than two seconds on 10 different plays. While it points to Nova's improved ability to make quick decisions, he was often only responsible for one or two reads.

It is by design. Nova said in late June that Ron Prince's new scheme would call for quicker decision-making in the pocket. That means less reads, seven-step drops and other factors that lead to holding the ball too long.

See for yourself from Thursday's highlights (compiled by Rutgers athletics):

RELATED: Gary Nova on Ron Prince's offense

His final line for a first outing — 63-percent completion percentage, finding eight different receivers — impressed.

When I see that, I don't think it's a conscious effort on Gary's part," Flood said, "I think it's just Gary going through the reads on this play."

MORE: Tracking Rutgers' formations against Fresno State

An outlier in Prince's quick-read offense was a third-quarter connection to Quron Pratt, who was likely Nova's third read as he scanned downfield. One of Nova's few one-read mistakes occurred when he stared down Leonte Carroo against cover 2, allowing a safety to converge and intercept a tipped pass.

The game's final play, a rollout from the far hash intended for a cutting Brandon Coleman, was also an obvious one-read situation. 

Flood said the two-point conversion call was a similar concept to Coleman's first touchdown but not the same play call. 

"I thought we had the defender out-leveraged," Flood said. "That's really what you're looking for on that play."

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