Campanile: Michigan linebackers haven't played to their capabilities

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
An ankle sprain might keep Michigan linebacker Josh Ross on the sidelines for Saturday's game against Rutgers.

Ann Arbor — Across the board, Michigan’s coaches and players know their play in last weekend's Big Ten opener at Wisconsin was substandard.

That goes for every position group in the Wolverines’ 35-14 loss to the Badgers.

The Wolverines (2-1) are hopeful facing Rutgers on Saturday at Michigan Stadium will give them a jolt, not only on the offensive side, which has been picked apart all week by media and coaches, but also the defense, which allowed the Badgers to rush for 359 yards.

“I don’t think we’ve played as well as we’re capable of playing yet, let me say that,” Michigan first-year linebackers coach Anthony Campanile said this week. “We’re very capable of playing at an elite level.

“We’re hopefully scratching the surface of how good we can possibly be. I’m excited to get them out there on Saturday, play the best to their abilities.”

It’s unclear whether linebacker Josh Ross will be available. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said on his radio show this week that Ross suffered a high ankle sprain in the Wisconsin game.

Campanile said what prevented the linebackers from better play against Wisconsin can be easily fixed.

“I would say this, I think the other day we had a couple eye violations,” Campanile said. “That’s something that you come right back and address. The eyes control the function of your body. As your eyes are right, your feet will be right, your hands will be right, your finish will be right, and that’s where every play starts. That’s something we’re making sure we’re 100 percent on.”

The linebackers were eager to get back to practice and sort through the mistakes.

“Everybody was ready, shoot, by the time we got off the plane. Everybody was ready to get back to work,” Campanile said. “Any time you’re coming off a loss, you get back and like Coach Harbaugh says, practicing and playing football is good for you. It’s the best thing to get rolling on.”

This will be a sort of family reunion for Campanile. He is a Rutgers alumnus and his brother, Nunzio, is tight ends coach. The New Jersey bloodlines run deep.

They coached together and then against each other in high school when Anthony was at Don Bosco Prep and Nunzio was at Bergen Catholic. Their teams faced each other four times, including twice in the state championship.

“We competed against each other pretty much in everything growing up,” Campanile said of preparing to face his brother again on Saturday. “He’s on that side, and I’m on this side and both of our programs are trying to get a win. That’s the No. 1 thing on my mind.”

So what was his record against his brother in those high school grudge matches?

“I was 4-0,” he said, smiling.

But he never reminds Nunzio, right?

“Just about every time we get together,” Campanile said, drawing laughs.

He just wants to have the last laugh on Saturday.

Rutgers at Michigan

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: BTN/950

Records: Rutgers 1-2, 0-1 Big Ten; No. 20 Michigan 2-1, 0-1

Line: Michigan by 28

Twitter: @chengelis