When there are struggles within a program, changes have to be made — whether warranted or not. For Rutgers, this change was Sean Gleeson.
The offensive coordinator was relieved of his duties on Sunday after the Scarlet Knights lost their third consecutive game to open Big Ten play. Nunzio Campanile was named the interim OC for the remainder of the season.
Campanile was named the interim head coach and OC in 2019 before Greg Schiano was brought back. During a media call on Sunday night, Schiano explained this decision.
“We love Sean,” Schiano said. “He’s a tireless worker. Very loyal. Just felt like it was this time best thing for me to make a change. Nunzio is going to be the interim offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, and we’re going to move forward. We’re going to get better and I chose at this time to do it. Certainly with the bye week, it gives us an opportunity to do some things and make some changes and experiment with a few things. We needed to do this.”
There is plenty to unpack about this decision but Schiano got the quick answer out of the way early. Above all, this was the best time to make a chance because the Scarlet Knights are preparing for their bye week. This gives the offense two weeks to adjust and make changes.
Other than that, Rutgers is coming off a 14-13 loss to Nebraska in a game where it did not score in the second half. Evan Simon finished with three interceptions and the playcalling continued to be head-scratching.
“Several things that have occurred that we don’t have enough hours in the day to go through all the small errors to all the structural issues that you can get into with the question,” Schiano said. “A lot of times you question things and after the question, we realize, you know what, this is the best way. At the end of the day in college football, you need to score points and we just don’t score enough points.”
There is no doubt that the defense for Rutgers has been its strong suit. On the other side of the ball, the Scarlet Knights are scoring 22.8 points per game. If you take away 66 points against Wagner, that brings the Scarlet Knights down to 14.6 per game.
Rutgers is currently 13th in the Big Ten in total offense (334.0) and passing yards per game (173.2).
“I want our offense to be as much of a weapon as our defense,” Schiano said. “I believe we can win if we can get that side of the ball cleaned up a little bit. It’s hard to do. Really hard.”
When an offense is struggling, the offensive coordinator seems like the best area to improve upon. Here, it is not as black and white.
Gleeson was held to a high standard because of the creativity that he brought to the offense. This season, the Scarlet Knights did not show any of that. Yes, it could be a product of not having the weapons under center but what about the rest of the offense?
Aron Cruickshank and Joshua Youngblood are wide receivers with great speed that can do many things within an offense. Rashad Rochelle is another young option that showed versatility early on. This does not even include the backfield, which consists of Al-Shadee Salaam and Kyle Monangai. Samuel Brown V has also emerged as a strong option.
The offensive weapons were not being used for Rutgers. At the same time, the quarterback play has been injured and inconsistent.
Gavin Wimsatt brings athleticism to the position and could have made an impact. He struggled throwing the ball, which made his game one dimensional. This has been another problem with the personnel. Johnny Langan is described as a football player but over the years, defenses knew that if he was in the game, it was going to be a QB run.
Simon is the team’s passing option, despite his inconsistencies and turnover struggles. The offense has been stagnant and Schiano highlighted a unit that uses tempo and can score in different ways.
“There will be some uncertainty offensively, but I want to have a multifaceted offense that uses tempo as a tool and as a weapon, but not as a constant,” Schiano said. “That’s kind of where we are headed. But it’s an execution-based offense and we need to improve on that.”
Was Gleeson the “scapegoat”? You could say that when looking at the situation but he was not innocent either. At this point, it seems like Schiano was interested in shaking things up a bit and the offense was the perfect place to begin.