Heading into last Thursday night's season opener against NC Central, it was inevitable that true freshman quarterback Gary Nova would play for the first time as a Scarlet Knight. But it wasn't a given that Rutgers' No. 2 quarterback would hook up with Brandon Coleman for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Yet that is exactly how Nova's first touchdown went down.
And coming from such a poised and confident young quarterback, the play did not come as a surprise.
"Brandon just outran the guy and I just let it fly," said Nova, who finished 6-of-17 for 97 yards. "When you have receivers like Brandon and those guys, they can just go get it. It felt good."
Nova found himself taking naps under center before that series. His college debut came earlier in the game on a short-lived drive late in the second quarter.
"Coach told me I was going to get in, but I didn't know when," Nova explained. "Actually, we just broke a quarterback meeting and they said 'Gary, get ready to go.' It was shocking a little bit but I had to get in."
That drive only lasted a total of three plays, which included two incompletions from Nova.
"It was more excitement than anything with all kinds of stuff running through my head," Nova said of that first dose of playing time. "I think I settled down after a few snaps. I made a few mistakes, I just have to get on the film and correct it."
Nova settled in and in addition to the touchdown pass to Coleman, he also led the RU offense to a pair of drives that resulted in field goals.
As the game wore on, Nova played with more and more poise, something that has been a constant not only through training camp but throughout his career.
"I don't know, people say I looked poised all the time," said Nova. "I've been playing football since I was seven years old so going out there and playing is nothing new to me. I try not to get caught up in the whole freshman thing, I just go out there play my game and try to get the win for the team."
Nova has quickly gone from a new arrival on the banks to being one hit away from commanding the entire Rutgers offense. He made noticeable strides over the summer and possesses a moxie not typically seen in a true freshman.
"I definitely progressed a lot over the summer," Nova acknowledged. "Coach Cignetti, Chas Dodd, Andrew Janocko, Steve Shimko, those guys and the rest of the quarterbacks do a great job helping each other out. They do such a great job of preparing you that when you are in the game you have to be confident."
With some college game experience now to his credit and an ever-growing dose of confidence, it looks as though Rutgers has found quite a formidable quarterback from right up the road at perennial national power Don Bosco.
"It felt real good to be out there, especially being in my home state with all the stuff I went through with recruiting. It felt good to get out there in my first college game."