Interim head coach Nunzio Campanile met with the media after Saturday’s 48-7 loss to Maryland. He spoke about the last minute decision of Raheem Blackshear to sit out the game intending to redshirt, the effort of the team, what went wrong on both sides of the ball and more. Watch his press conference in video below, followed by a transcript of his comments and answers to questions from the media.
INTERIM HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: How we doing, everybody.
Obviously not the result we were looking for but I think our kids had a really tough week, a couple of events popped up as the week went on that were pretty difficult to deal with, and I think our kids did a really good job of staying focused and doing the best they could under, you know, really, you know, really tough circumstances.
So I’m really proud of the way they played. I thought they competed really hard. We did some good things. You know, obviously not enough, not even close to enough, but I think we have a lot to build on.
The biggest thing is we kind of tried to rebuild an offense in four days. That’s not really going to get all the results you want but there were some good plays out there.
On defense, I think we’re playing well at times and giving up big plays. We struggled a little bit tackling, but I thought they continued playing all the way through the game. I thought there was a lot to say about holding them out at the end of the game, blocking a field goal, just showing that guys are playing hard right to the end of the game and that’s about all you can ask.
Obviously you always have to watch the film and make corrections and fix some things, but I think we have a lot to build on, and you know, I’m really proud of the way our kids handled themselves this week, as I said, under pretty rough circumstances.
So, any questions.
Q. Raheem’s decision, our understanding is he’s asked for a redshirt?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: At this time, yeah, that’s what he’s looking to do.
Q. Is he in an emergency role like Art?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: No. I mean, you know, I don’t know that that’s totally been decided but I’m going to worry about the guys that are on our team that play really hard out there for our team and that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Q. Is there a turning point that you saw early on?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yeah, we make a big play, get down there and score, and then obviously we gave up basically two huge plays there in the pass game and then we turned around and went for it on fourth down and didn’t get. It that was a pretty bad turn of events. But I don’t regret it at all.
I told these kids, we’re going to play to win, believe in them, take some chances at times. Fourth and ones we have to convert them. That was the play we wanted all week and you know, kids played really hard on the play. Just we didn’t execute it.\
Q. Was the offensive overhaul maybe more than you expected on Monday or Tuesday with Johnny coming in?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Well, it’s not just, you know, Johnny came in theoretically on Thursday. So yeah, it definitely was.
But you know, I think you’re going to make the most of the situation and build off it every week, and you know, I told our guys, I didn’t think that we were going to go out and score 50 points today. That wouldn’t really have been realistic. We haven’t been doing that, anyway. It’s not going to change overnight.
But hopefully there’s some things that we have to build on and then we don’t have all the answers yet. I mean, I think as we build the offense more to the way I would envision it, hopefully there are more answers. They did some stuff to us there at the beginning of the first quarter that normally we’d have built-in answers for that we just really -- it would have been unfair to ask a freshman quarterback in his first game to handle three straight zero blitz plays. That’s part of the process but we’ll get there.
Q. Speaking of Johnny, what did you think of his performance today?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I thought for a kid as a freshman in college playing in his first game in a Big Ten, I thought he handled himself really well.
Obviously a couple turnovers and stuff like that, but the first one he got hit in on. The second one, probably just trying to make a play. But I think he plays really hard and he’ll give you everything he has and I’m really proud of him.
Q. We saw a lot of it today but what is your -- how do you envision the offense? You have to start from scratch this summer what would this offense look like?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I think that we have to be able to -- we’re not a team that’s going to line up and just mash you.
So I think we have to get some elements where the quarterback can be an extra blocker for us in the run game and in the pass game and we have to get a little more comfortable in some of the RPO stuff and the quick-game stuff. We have to improve our screen game. But they are all things that I envision us having the ability to do over time. I think it will take a couple weeks.
Q. Is “over time” before the end of the season?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It has to be. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, so we’re going to do our best. We’re going to make sure that we’re out there doing everything we can to get these guys better.
But I do know this: Those guys are really bought into doing it. They are really excited about it. So you know, I’m really appreciative of their effort and their attitude.
Q. What would you say to Rutgers fans who are upset that two of your key players were dressed and on the sidelines today even though they decided to sit out the rest of the season?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Well, that’s not exactly the case for one of them; that is the case -- seems to be the case for Blackshear. That’s not necessarily the case for Art. I think they are separate issues, and you know, I can’t tell you that I had the best answer to deal with that on short notice.
So it’s something that we will address obviously over the course of this week and you know, we’ll address it in a way that our team feels comfortable with it.
Q. Do you understand the decision? Are you disappointed by the decision? Overall?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly. Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that’s the way the world is now.
I think that this is a game about your team, you know and it’s about sacrificing personal accomplishment for the success of the team.
But that’s the world they live in and they have got a lot of people telling them, you know, worry about you, worry about you. I get it.
But I’m raising two boys. I’m trying to raise them about being willing to sacrifice some of the things they want for what’s good for the people around them. I get it. That’s the world that we are living in, and he’s a great kid and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.
Q. Right now, no one else has indicated to you they want to do this?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: No, we have a couple guys that were already planning to do that, but they are young -- five games.
Q. Four delay of game penalties?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: We took one.
Q. Does that concern you?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: Yes and no. I mean, you know, some of it is just the element of being a freshman quarterback and getting stuck in, oh, hey, wait, there’s a check here and did we get to it and two of them were one second -- one of them, the guy didn’t get the personnel call. That’s stuff that can’t happen. That’s stuff that has plagued us and cannot happen.
Q. The emotions of the week, getting the job, dealing with the issues -- how did you get through it? And was it good to just coach a football game?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: It was a really stressful week, but the kids, being around a team, to me, is probably the most comforting thing.
So I think that it was a stressful week, but playing the game obviously is hopefully the payoff for all the work everybody does during the week. Was it stressful? Yes. But I kind of enjoy that, you know, part of the job. I think that in the end, a lot of that is fun.
Obviously the passing of Jack McGovern, a good friend of mine and somebody that I had a lot of respect for him and his family. That’s tough. He was a really good man. But obviously we’ll deal with that in the coming days.
Q. After this, how do you keep them up going into next week?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I just told them, obviously we don’t like feeling this way, but the only answer is to stick together and keep playing hard. You know, there’s no way it gets fixed the other way.
To me, the way that we conduct ourselves is we just make sure that we stay together. We have some really good leaders on this team, and guys that care a lot about each other, and they have to keep doing that. I mean, they are all sick of this result, I mean, for sure.
It’s not going to be easy, but you know, nothing worth doing in life is easy, so I’m really -- like I said, I’m excited to see what we do in the coming weeks. We have some games that we have an opportunity to improve on and that’s what we have to do.
Q. Did you sleep in your office this week? A couple people have said that.
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: A couple times, yeah (smiling).
Q. Is that normal?
HEAD COACH NUNZIO CAMPANILE: I mean, you know, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I live kind of far from here. I live about an hour from here. I’m not going to drive home at 1:30 in the morning to be back here at 5:00.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports via Rutgers Athletics