By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Unflappable is a term not often applied to a redshirt freshman, but it seems to fit Concord Uni-versity’s new starting quarterback Brian Novak.
All he did in his first collegiate game was to complete 11 of 19 passes for 145 yards and rush seven times for 36 yards to help the Mountain Lions beat nationally-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne 18-10 last Saturday night in front of 7,257 fans at the Bears’ home field — where they had not lost since 2010.
Novak said Tuesday, “Honestly, we had such a great of preparation that no one was nervous. We just went out there and we executed, and we came out with a win.”
“It was my first start. I felt good. I was confident out there, and just happy we got it done.”
He wasn’t the only one, he said.
“If you asked any one on this team, we felt very, very confident going in,” he said. “No one had any doubt, because we were so prepared for the game ... .”
He owned up to a first-quarter interception and a fumble that he lost, but managed to find a silver lining.
“I had the two turnovers, which we need to eliminate, but no one got down on me and everybody had my back, which was good. It made me more confident going in there,” he said.
Novak competed throughout the spring and summer for the starting quarterback job with sophomore Albert Rose, who started a few games last season.
Novak said Tuesday, “No matter what competition at any position, it brings out the best in both players ... . Whoever’s in at whatever position, I think we can get it done.”
After being an all-state signal-caller at Bishop Sullivan Catholic in College Park, Md., Novak was held out of games as a true freshman last year, which he spent watching, practicing and learning from veteran quarterback Zack Grossi, which Novak said “was great.”
He said the experience helped him in “just getting acclimated to the speed of the game, coming from high school to the next level ... the speed was completely different. That year really, really helped me.”
Concord head coach Garin Justice commented on Novak’s skills late last week before the team’s road trip.
“As far as arm strength (goes), I wouldn’t call him a guy who has a rocket arm, but he has a strong arm,” Justice said. “Probably the most impressive things about Brian are, he’s highly accurate and he’s got a very quick release.”
“He’s not a runner, but he’s very good in the pocket, as far as his awareness and his feel for where the rush is coming.”
“He just hasn’t played a college football game yet, and we understand there are going to be some ups and downs with that. ... We understand there are going to be some mistakes. We also understand there are going to be some high rewards, because he is a very talented football player.”
Justice said, “Probably one of the greatest things about Brian is he wants to be great. He wants to be a great football player. Now, he’s not a great football player today, but I think the finished product, before it’s all said and done — you’re going to look back and say Brian Novak was one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever went to this school.”
“But we know, and Brian knows, that there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of mistakes, there’s a lot of good plays that go along with that. He’s nowhere near that finished product, but we’ve got to keep polishing it more and more each day.”
Novak made the recipe for collegiate success sound simple on Tuesday.
“We put a lot of time into watching film during the week to get prepared for these games,” he said. “We meet every day. We just try to execute what these coaches tell us to do, and usually we come out on top.”
During practice, we’re very high-tempo, and when things aren’t executed, we have to re-do them until we get it right, multiple times. So when it’s game time, we’re ready.”
Asked about the unit around him in the huddle, he said, “If I had to use one word, we’re explosive. We’re also young, but we’re very, very explosive on offense.”
He is pleased that the running game is shared by Calvinaugh Jones, Sam Wright and Ben Nester. Concord gained a net of 113 yards on the ground.
“To have a rotation at running back is unbelievable,” Novak said. “That way, you’re not beating up one guy. And we have multiple backs who can get it done. That always helps, no matter what.”
He added, “We feel that we have one of the best defenses in the nation. The whole team feels exactly like that. They created so many turnovers. Jake Lilly had four forced fumbles.
“As an offense, we can’t ask any more from them than to just keep getting the ball back for us, and give us more opportunity.”
Lenoir-Rhyne was plagued by two interceptions and eight fumbles, five of which they lost.
This Saturday, the Mountain Lions host West Virginia State in their home opener.
Novak said, “It’s a brand new week. What happened last week, it’s over. It was a great win for us, but we’re on to the next game. We’ve got to get focused, and concentrate for our game against State.”
Novak said about playing in Concord’s home stadium on Saturday, “We couldn’t ask for anything more. We’ll be ready. We’ve got to come out here and execute, and we’ll be ready.”
— Contact Tom Bone at