Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Nova practices, status TBD
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova(10) talks to fellow quarterback Mike Bimonte (16) on the sidelines before an NCAA college football game against Norfolk State in Piscataway,N.J., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Rutgers won 38-0. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
FAYETTEVILLE Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova practiced in a limited role Tuesday after suffering a concussion over the weekend.
Nova has not been cleared to play in Saturday's game against Arkansas, though Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said it was encouraging to see the starter on the practice field. Nova was knocked out in the first quarter of Rutgers' win over Eastern Michigan last weekend.
"I think it means you've got a chance," Flood said of whether Nova practicing meant he might play against the Razorbacks. "I don't know if there's any certainty at all. Those are decisions that I don't make. The medical staff makes them, so they give me an idea of what they think he can do and then they try to do it, and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Nova has completed 42 of 66 passes this season for 542 yards and 6 touchdowns. The junior has also thrown two interceptions.
In Rutgers' 35-26 win over Arkansas last season, Nova passed for career-high yards (397) and touchdowns (5). If he is unable to play, the Scarlet Knights will start senior Chas Dodd. Both Nova and Dodd have 16 career starts.
Like Rutgers, Arkansas' quarterback situation is uncertain entering the nonconference showdown. Razorbacks starter Brandon Allen was knocked out in the first quarter of Saturday's win over Southern Miss after rushing for a touchdown. Allen is said to have a bruised shoulder but no breaks.
AJ Derby played the final three-plus quarters for Arkansas on Saturday, completing 4 of 6 passes for 36 yards. The junior college transfer has never started a game on the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
"The reality is this: Bret Bielema has a football team that wants to run the football," Flood said. "That's where it begins. Their backup quarterback is more than capable of throwing the passes they want to throw, so they will threaten us down the field and in any way they need to from a passing game standpoint. This game, I believe, will be decided very early by running the ball and stopping the run on both sides."
The game at Rutgers will be the first away from home this season for Arkansas (3-0). The Scarlet Knights are 2-1 following back-to-back wins over Norfolk State and Eastern Michigan.