Rutgers Football Postgame Conference vs. Liberty
COURTESY OF RUTGERS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
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.
Rutgers Player Quotes Rutgers Defensive End Mike Tverdov On the team win: "Guys on this team have worked really hard to get a win like this. It's just a matter of building on it. We have to look at what we did wrong, what we did right and just fix those things and hopefully improve onto the next game. I think we did a great job in all three phases of the football team today."
On team's mentality: "There's always a chip on our shoulders. We have our backs against the wall, that's no secret. It's just a matter of going out every Saturday and just fighting -- competing to the best of our abilities."
Rutgers Linebacker Tyshon Fogg On the win: "The win felt good. We got time to enjoy it. We still have room to improve. At the end of the day, wins don't come easy so we're going to enjoy this one, keep getting forward and get ready for the next game."
On defense's adjustments: "It was a great team effort (by) the defense and just the guys on the sideline motivating us and pushing us through so it definitely felt good."
Rutgers Quarterback Johnny Langan On Minnesota's defense: "It's a great feeling. Not many better feelings than winning a football game so I'm really happy right now."
On offense's performance: "We just really attacked this (past) week on offense. We had our best week of practice all year. We just translated that onto the field and I'm really happy about it."
On Isaiah Washington: "He's a heck of a player. He's gonna keep making plays. He's gonna be a great player for us down the road. (I'm) just really happy for him to get that first touchdown. It was a great day."
Rutgers Wide Receiver Isaiah Washington On individual and team improvement: "A lot of hard work in the weight room, a lot of hard work on the field. We go out every day with a certain mindset where we have to get better, we can't stay normal."
On team's offensive breakthrough: "(We had) a great week of practice. We had to turn it on somehow."
Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze
Opening Statement: "Obviously not the result that we had hoped for coming here. Got to give credit to Rutgers and their coaching staff. They dominated the line of scrimmage offensively and the time of possession. It was very difficult for us to get off the field on third down and that resulted in us not having many possessions offensively. So it's very frustrating. We knew we were coming against a very physical offensive line. They looked it, they looked the part. They controlled the entire game, winning first downs and then they put themselves in second and shorts and third downs. The quarterback threw the ball well enough to convert third downs when they needed to. We didn't guard particularly well or tackle particularly well at times, and that's really the story of the game. We would have had to score on every possession we got and I still don't know if we had enough possessions to do that. That's a tough task. So we will regroup and go back to work and have a chance to win next week against UMass."
On the performance: "It's hard to swallow when you lose a game that you feel like you had a chance to win. Certainly they had a chance to win it too, it wasn't like we were much better or talented team. But I told our kids all week it was a toss-up game. We can win it or they can win it. It'll take a 60-minute fanatical effort. We made some mistakes. The fumbled kickoff really hurt us. That kind of got it to wear it was a two score game, so that that that was difficult. At that point in the game we really needed possession of the ball. So that mistake hurt. Still, it came down to them controlling the line of scrimmage. We hadn't had a false start all year before today. Our kids said they were getting some cadence things from the other side of the ball. I asked the officials and they said they hadn't seen any of that. But that's on the coaching staff. That can't happen. We have to communicate faster and more efficient."
On the team's drive to the goal line that came up short: "It's frustrating for sure. You have to score in this kind of game, you don't have enough possessions to kick field goals. Still at that point it didn't feel like it was devastating. We were going to go for the fourth and goal inside the one but then we got the false start again. That really hadn't happened to us all year. That backed it up. The field goal at that point still kept it in touch. I don't like the result of not getting the touchdown, but it really came back to you kick it off to them and they control the line of scrimmage again. If we could have gotten a stop there somewhere and got the ball, we'd proven that we can move the ball, so that could have been different."
On being called offsides on the onside kick: "I did not think he was offsides. The official on the other side of the field threw the flag on Jesse, who was on our side. I'd have to see the film but it didn't appear to me that we had anyone offsides." Liberty Quarterback Stephen Calvert
On what Rutgers did differently in the second half to prevent Liberty from moving the ball down the field like they did in the first half: "Honestly they stuck with the same game plan throughout the whole game."
On this game being similar to the first two weeks: "We moved the ball pretty well, we just couldn't execute. It was nowhere near like the first two games."
On trying to reach the ball out to cross the goal line: "I was in the motion of doing that, but he wrapped me up so I couldn't really extend my arms."
On Rutgers taking away the run game: "They did a good job when we did run the ball to clog it up."
Liberty Wide Receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden
On adjustments from Rutgers: "Personally, I don't feel like they changed up too much. We did what we could."
On the goal line play, not being able to get into the end zone and settling for the field goal: "I wouldn't say it was deflating. We wanted to score and we always want to score when were that close to the goal line, but I just feel like it made us go to the sideline and say to ourselves we have to regroup and figure it out. We can't be that close to the goal line and not score."
On offenses exchanging touchdowns, similar to games from last year: "We had a lot of games like that last year. The defense has stepped up a lot this year. They carried us through a lot of games this season, so honestly I feel like this one was to return the favor."
On the field goal to cut it a 13-point game: "Stuff like that happens, it shifts everything. It wasn't the best, we held them to a field goal. They didn't score, but they shouldn't have gotten anything."
Liberty Defensive Lineman Jessie Lemonier
On being worn down: "Personally, I played every snap except one play, it wasn't wearing us down it was just like different fitting wise, the whole speed of it. Preparation, there was a little more we could do on our end."
On prepping for Rutgers QB Johnny Langan to run as much as he did: "Yes we did plan for him to run a lot, but we didn't expect him to be bigger and hard to tackle."
On things Rutgers did that Liberty didn't prepare for: No, we covered everything and there were actually a few things we were expecting to see that they didn't run."