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New Offensive Coordinator, Ralph Friedgen, Looks to Provide New Teaching Mechanisms to Rutgers and Specifically Gary Nova

by Diane Quail | Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2014

Ralph Friedgen was hired by Rutgers head football coach, Kyle Flood, to help his struggling offense.  The 67-year-old former offensive coordinator comes into Piscataway with not only college experience, but NFL coaching experience as well.

“I thought he would be a perfect fit for us because he was a pro-style coordinator that had a lot of flexibility in his run and pass,” said Flood during the annual Rutgers media day.  “For Ralph to decide to come back to football and to come back to Rutgers to do it, I couldn’t be more excited.  We’ve got one of the premier offensive minds of the past 20-25 years working in our program,” he continued.

Friedgen comes from the University of Maryland where he was head coach for ten seasons.  He is also the fourth offensive coordinator that Rutgers has had in four years,  something no offense, let alone quarterback, wants.  However, Friedgen seems to be exactly what senior quarterback Gary Nova needed.

Inconsistency describes Nova’s past three seasons at quarterback.  Here is a quarterback who ranks fifth in school history in career completions (502) and yards (6,407).  Nova, marched his offense down the field to defeat Arkansas during both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.   Nova also has 39 career interceptions.

After some tweaks to his approach, Gary Nova has impressed new offensive coordinator, Ralph Friedgen. (Jim O'Connor | USA TODAY Sports Images)

After some tweaks to his approach, Gary Nova has impressed new offensive coordinator, Ralph Friedgen. (Jim O’Connor | USA TODAY Sports Images)

Many have said that Nova cannot lead this team into the Big Ten because of his inconsistency, but if you look at what he has had to deal with going through so many offensive coordinators, he’s lacked consistent guidance.

Known for his teaching methods, Friedgen has already been a positive influence on Nova, who was officially named the  teams’ starting quarterback for the 2014 season.

“Gary needed someone who was a great teacher,” said Flood.  “What makes anyone a great teacher is the ability to take an idea and make it understandable in a very short amount of time.  You have to coach in sound bits, you can’t coach in paragraphs,” he continued.

Friedgen coaches his offense in a way that makes sense to the players.  He does not bore them to death with lectures, but simply making quick adjustments and teaching in ways that are simple to understand.

It is only day 11 in training camp, and coach Friedgen has already made two gigantic changes in Nova’s game.

First, Friedgen noticed a major mechanical error in Nova’s game.  When watching films, Friedgen noticed that Nova throws up on his toe.

“When I was in the NFL the big thing that everybody stressed was to sink your whole heel into the ground very much like a pitcher and push off your back foot,” said Friedgen.

By coming up on his toe, Nova was not able to follow threw with his lower body; something that many forget is vital for a quarterback.  By using his lower body, Nova is now able to gain more momentum and come out throwing harder without putting additional stress on his shoulder.

“The older you get you try to save your arm as much as possible so any little tweak to save your arm and make it feel as good as it can really helps,” said Nova.  “I have no soreness, I feel really good right now,” he continued.

The second adjustment that Friedgen has made to Nova is his mindset.

“From what people have told me, Gary can lose focus from time to time.  I see that a little bit, but he’s usually pretty focused,” said Friedgen.  “What gets Gary into trouble sometimes is that he’s so confident in what he can do he lets his confidence override his decisions and he’ll force the ball in there,” he continued.

With that in mind, Friedgen looks to make Nova a better decision maker. Being a quarterback is part physical, but it is also mental and with teaching Nova in a way that has held his focus, his game has already improved.

“I’ve been very impressed with the kid.  I think he has a chance to be a very good quarterback,” Friedgen stated.

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