The Rutgers football team defeated Liberty 44-34 on Saturday afternoon for a much needed morale boost for both the program and the fan base. Quarterback Johnny Langan led the way with over 300 yards combined in the air and on the ground, as well as producing three touchdowns.
Interim head coach Nunzio Campanile spoke to the media after the game about his first win since taking over the team a month ago. He spoke on how proud he was of the team, how the offense was able to execute in a way they had hoped since changing the system and much more. Also, at the end of the press conference, Campanile was asked about his postgame comment on the radio stating that former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano texts him before every game. You can watch that in the video below, as well as all of his comments. I included a tweet on his answer at the end of this post.
Interim Head Coach Nunzio Campanile: I’m just really proud of our kids. I thought it was a great team win. They played really hard for each other. They believed in each other. They made plays. I think they came out and built off a lot of the work. It’s been a tough few weeks and they have gotten a lot of criticism and they have heard a lot of really negative things from people outside the program and they stayed together. They believed in each other. They went out and played really hard for each other. You know, tie game at halftime and the defense really stepped up and played a great second half. I thought we got great plays from our backs, our quarterback, tight ends, wide receivers, the O-line and the entire offensive unit, really competed and played well. They executed well. They did a great job on special teams. Justin (Davidovicz) made big kicks, and a turnover on kickoff and things we have been talking about with these guys for the last four weeks and it’s really great to see it come to fruition. Really proud of our guys. It’s a heck of a game and it’s a great opportunity to compete against a really good football team and I thought our guys, they had a great day and I think they are having some fun right now and they really deserve it. So I’m proud of them.
Q. How is the locker room?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It’s great. That’s what you want to see them feel. They are having fun. They are dancing around. They are being kids and they should be able to do that. It’s just really great to see them having fun.
Q. How gratifying is this, just based on what’s gone on here for the last month?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It’s great. I told the kids on offense last night, we’ve pretty much been in training camp the last four weeks, learning how to do some of the things we do and it’s going to get better every week. I think the things that we have been working on started to happen this week and you know, we weren’t overwhelmed physically. I think that they got a little confidence and were able to go out and play, so I was really proud. From that standpoint, that’s what you want. You want to see guys go out and play with confidence and execute and have fun. From that standpoint, I’m really proud.
Q. First 100-yard rushing game for a Rutgers quarterback since 1961. What can you say about Johnny’s (Langan) performance?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: That’s the guy I know he is and he actually said to me Sunday, came into my office, pretty --you know, pretty animatedly -- and told me, “I apologize because I’ve been trying to make everybody happy rather than just be who I am.” And he went out today and cut it loose and played like the competitor that I know he is. He’s one of the toughest human beings I’ve ever met and he’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever met. I’ve been saying this all along, you go out as a freshman and play against really good competition; if the game is going fast -- and today it slowed down for him a little bit and he played with confidence and he played like he was having fun. It was great to see him do that and I’m really happy for him and really proud of him.
Q. Tied at the half, what changed in the second half? Seems like you guys took control?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I don’t know that we did anything different. You know, we just kind of executed a little better. I think getting the ball, coming out and taking the lead probably flipped the script a little bit. We were playing behind by a touchdown. I think once we got the lead, we did a great job on defense and we got a huge stop down there on the one-yard line, Avery Young makes an unbelievable play and just changed the momentum. Once we got up two scores, they got out of the RPO stuff and more traditional throwing, and allowed us to get more pressure on the quarterback and things like that. I don’t think we made many changes. What I’m really proud of is we were struggling a little bit defensively early, and then in the second half, they just kept fighting and that’s really what you want to see. We eliminated some of the big plays. Kind of make them lineup and run another snap all the time, good things happen and that’s really what happened down in the goal line.
Q. How proud are you that they were able to brush all that aside and get a win today?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It’s huge. Every day, you know, I’m sure, if you have a phone, which everyone does, all you hear is how bad we are and worst team and this and that. It’s not true. It’s a young team with really good kids that are fighting really hard for each other. What I think you saw there today, in a couple years, you’ll see guys playing offense like that every week. There’s like seven or eight freshmen and sophomores out there playing, and when those guys are juniors and seniors they are going to be really good players. I’m really proud of them. They believed in themselves when other people didn’t believe in them. I’m not saying we are going to go out and put up 500 yards every week, but they showed themselves that they are capable of performing at the level they came here expecting. I think that at least they know that there’s a bright future there where those guys can come out and do it every week.
Q. Seemed like Johnny (Langan) liked to target him a lot -- do you see him emerging and growing into his own --
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Absolutely. If you want to building a winning football team, you need guys like that on your team. He’s a phenomenal competitor. He’s a great student of football. He loves football. He goes out and he makes plays. For a freshman in college, he is not scared. He’s not timid and he loves to compete and he loves football. No matter what the situation or the score is, he comes to work every day, he comes to practice every day. That kid has a really bright future.
Q. Is this the offense that you envisioned, and how much confidence can a game like this give?
NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It is what imagined -- I thought it would come a little quicker than that. In all honesty I think I learned pretty quickly there are some matchups and stuff that weren’t exactly easy for us, and some of the stuff we dealt with the first week probably set us back a little. That is what I would envision us being, and hopefully it is something that we can build off. Obviously we’re going back into league play. We’re going to play some really good teams. Hopefully there’s something there that we can build off. I was really proud of what the guys did in the third and fourth quarter against Minnesota there and hopefully there’s something there where we can put maybe five quarters together. If we keep doing that, there will be a lot of growth.”
The Rutgers transcript didn't include it, but @richiesrivals, citing the postgame radio broadcast, asked Nunzio Campanile about the fact Greg Schiano texts him before every game. Here is Campanile's answer. Keep in mind, they know each other for years. pic.twitter.com/2NmdSFkZmU— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) October 26, 2019