Beginning his fourth week on the job, interim head coach Nunzio Campanile conducted the normal weekly press conference in advance of this weekend’s game with Liberty. He addressed a number of topics beginning with the freshmen running backs and quarterbacks. Kay’Ron Adams is getting more on his plate and could enter games earlier moving forward. Johnny Langan will start, but Cole Snyder will get more reps and needs to be ready to play, “I would say that by the time you finish practice on Wednesday you’d probably have to have a pretty good idea of where he would fit in the game plan.” Snyder’s redshirt will be preserved barring something crazy and that makes things difficult with only two scholarship quarterbacks in the event of injury. Also speaking of skill position players, Campanile has been frustrated that Bo Melton only got two touches the last two weeks, but it has been a unit wide failure.
The final question about the offensive line was basically that it’s breaking down across the board, there’s no single fix.
You can watch the presser here and full transcript follows below.
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I had the opportunity to get into the tape on Minnesota, and I thought that our -- while there’s a lot of things that were frustrating or maybe disappointing, there were also some things that were positives. I thought we had a bunch of positives on defense. We played pretty hard. We had a couple big stops there in the first half that gave us an opportunity to go into halftime in a really competitive game, kind of let it get away from us a little bit late third quarter. I thought that Christian Izien and Deion Jennings stepped up and did a nice job. For young guys getting a lot of work, they played well, they played really physical, and they played with a lot of energy. I thought that definitely added some things for us, and I was really proud of the way that we kind of finished the game.
On offense we at least put some things out there. That’s one of the big things I’ve been trying to push our guys on is that we have to just keep playing no matter what the score is, so we have an opportunity to grow and get better and have something to build off for the next week, and I think we did that a little bit in the third and fourth quarter.
And then obviously we’ve got a really great opportunity, should be a good game on Saturday, and I think the players are really excited to go forward and get back to work.
Q. How do you approach a game like this where there’s going to be -- it’s obviously out of the Big Ten play and this is a team that’s coming in here looking to make their kind of statement? How do you discuss that with your players, an independent school that’s coming in probably thinking this is their shot to make a wave nationally?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yeah, they’re on a pretty good roll. I don’t think anybody is in a position to ever approach any game differently. So no matter what, for us it’s a huge game because it’s an opportunity to go out and compete and an opportunity to go out and win a game. But we can’t treat it any different than any other game, regardless of the opponent. I think we have to go out and play really well, and I’ve been saying this for a couple weeks, but we really have to take care of our own business and make sure our house is in order, and if we do that, we should be a really good game. I think they’re a pretty impressive team. They get better every week, and they’ve found ways to win on offense and defense; they make some plays on special teams. I enjoy watching them. You look at the tape and they do a bunch of good things.
Q. After a solid performance last week from Kay’Ron Adams, is the plan to redshirt him or get him more carries?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I don’t know that the plan has ever been to redshirt him. I think we’ll play it by ear and just see what happens, but I think he’s a heck of a football player. I think he’s kind of ready to go, and we’ve got to kind a way to way to get him in the game earlier. I think he’s a physical runner, he’s tough. Obviously there’s always a learning curve for freshmen in the things like pass protection and stuff like that, which Isaiah went through and probably around mid-season last year Isaiah started to get more opportunities, and I think he did a good job with that. Hopefully there’s opportunity for him to grow and really prepare himself.
Q. How do you plan to divvy up the quarterback reps this week? Kind of an open competition?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I don’t know if it’ll be an open competition. Cole will get more reps. He needs to be more prepared. I’ve talked to him, we are going to preserve his redshirt. I don’t think that would be fair to him or for the future of the program to not do that. But if there’s opportunities where we think he gives us the best chance to do something, we’ll use him. We’ll see how practice goes throughout the week, but he will get more reps, and we’ll try to get him as many reps in the competitive situations as we can to prepare him in the event that we decide to go that route. But right now, Johnny is going to start the game, and we’ll keep building on what we’re doing.
Q. Just to follow up, at least in your own head, is there some sort of timetable where you have to decide if Cole could enter the game or is ready to enter the game Wednesday, Thursday, whatever?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yeah, I would say that by the time you finish practice on Wednesday you’d probably have to have a pretty good idea of where he would fit in the game plan. You know, I have no plans of starting him, but if there’s an opportunity to get him in the game where it would be good for the team and good for him and his development, then we would definitely do that. But it is also important that we have five games left and we need to make sure that we’re in the right position, God forbid something happens, we need him and we don’t want to burn his redshirt, either. There’s a number of factors at work there.
Q. Through the whole past few weeks when you’ve been interim head coach, what has Pat Hobbs been telling you, advice, message? What are some of those conversations like?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: He’s just been really positive. You know, I mean, he understands the situation that we’re in, and I think that one of the things that we’re looking for, we’re looking for growth, we’re looking for improvement, we’re looking for effort. Some of it is individual growth. It doesn’t really necessarily all show up on game day, but I think like even the way the game ended and the way the guys competed in the fourth quarter and a couple good things happened on offense, he recognizes that. I think we’re all well aware of the situation that we’ve been in for the last few months. We’re just looking to try and keep getting better, and obviously there’s some really tough games coming down the road. This has to be an opportunity for us to show some legitimate growth this coming week.
Q. I think Bo has two touches the last two weeks. Is there anything you can do to get him more involved? He might be your fastest guy now that Raheem is not playing?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yeah, we have to. It’s been frustrating, and honestly they have been non-productive plays, not because of him, but just because of things that we’ve done. We tried to dial up a couple shots for him, and we kind of ran into some protection issues, had to get out of the pocket. There were a few different things that have hurt us, so we have to get the ball in his hands, whether it’s quick game, whatever it is, handoffs, but he is a dynamic player, and every week you want to get it up to say get the ball in the hands of the players that can win the game for you, and he is certainly one of them. He’s actually been phenomenal, the way he’s practiced and his attitude, I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the way he’s acted. Even in the game the other day, at the end of the game when we were starting to get some of the other guys, he wanted to keep playing and stay in there and use it as an opportunity to just keep growing, and we actually tried a couple plays there. Just the way it read out, it didn’t go to him.
Q. Back to the quarterbacks, I know you take it one week at a time, but with the redshirt stuff and the game count, do you have to map out the next five games and figure out where you can put Cole here or there or maybe kind of --NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Well, that’s what makes it interesting is that you really want to da what’s best for him and you want to do what’s best for the future of the program. It’s not like we’re going to the Rose Bowl, so we have to make sure we put him in a position -- I would love to get him in three more games. At the same time, I don’t know what the health of everyone will be coming down the road. Would I love to say, yeah, we would map it out and say, hey, you’re going to play in this game and the next one, I don’t know that we have the luxury of doing that. Right now for the most part we have two viable scholarship quarterbacks to play in the game. So to risk throwing him in there for a drive may not be in the best interest of the team, and that is something that we have to weigh the whole way.
Q. Art and Blackshear were both comfortable coming to you saying they wanted to sit and survey their options. Has Cole come to either way saying he’s comfortable playing or he doesn’t want to play? Has he expressed anything like that to you?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Not really. I mean, I think he wants to play if the opportunity comes, but he also wants to redshirt. Just because that’s been the plan all along, and it would not -- that probably wouldn’t be fair for him. I think he’s having a lot of fun having the opportunity to get a lot more reps, and he’s in there, he’s getting reps in practice, he’s getting some real live bullets a little bit. So I think he’s enjoying that. But at the same time I do believe he knows it’s in his best interest to redshirt.
Q. We get asked by fans a lot, I know you can’t give away game planning or strategy, but Pacheco, wildcat, is that still on the table? Are you guys working on that?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yeah, it’s always possible. It’s not a real offense. Some of the fans, you hear people say that. Yeah, it’s somewhat of a gimmick, and Johnny is a pretty good runner, and so that’s not necessarily -- we’re not trying to run him a whole lot because we don’t have a lot of depth at quarterback. But there’s a lot that goes into that. It disrupts practice because it takes reps away from things that you need to do. So I understand that people think we can just jump into wildcat and if you think we’re seeing a lot of guys in the box now, what would that look like. If there’s an opportunity where we think it would be an advantage for us, obviously we’ll use it, but it’s also -- he has to be prepared to play the game at running back, handle all the runs, the pass protections, the blocking, and then to ask him to go in and play quarterback, it’s not as easy as people might think.
Q. Have you dug into past offenses maybe you haven’t run or kind of looked for things that might work the past few weeks, kind of going outside the box?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Well, you study a lot of things, but a lot of that is more like off-season stuff and research. I mean, but at the same time, you can only teach your guys so much, so to ask them to change a great deal, I don’t know that that’s in their best interest. Actually I’m fairly certain it’s not in their best interest. It’s not like we’re going to come out and run the triple option on Saturday. I mean, that takes tremendous work, and that’s not really what we are and that wouldn’t really develop our players for the future. We’re not trying to mortgage the future for the present. That doesn’t really make sense. I don’t think that that’s my responsibility here. I think my responsibility is to try and get us to continue to move forward so that those guys can develop the skills it takes to compete at this level. I understand that the results are not there yet, but that doesn’t mean that we should do things that they’re not going to do with next year.
Q. What seems to be the issue with the offensive line? Is it experience or strength or so on?NUNZIO CAMPANILE: You know, it’s a variety of things. At times we’re doing a really good job. We seem to kind of -- as an offensive unit, we seem to break down at many different spots. It’s not like, oh, hey, this is the problem. We’re just getting killed at this one position. Across the board, we’ll protect it well, we’ll miss the throw. We’ll protect it well, we’ll throw a good ball and we might drop it, or maybe we run the route two yards too deep or we’ll go out there and we have everything wired up and we just miss the block. It seems like across the board that’s been an issue. Hopefully we’re getting a little more healthy. Reggie Sutton is getting healthy, Raiqwon O’Neal is getting healthy. Hopefully we have eight viable players to go through the game that will maybe help us out a little bit. I think it will. I think those guys are talented young players. They’re only freshmen, but they are good players.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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