Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro has had an outstanding season, and just tied the ACC single-game receptions record last week against Boston College with 16. Campanaro played the game with a sprained ankle and a banged-up hand, making his performance all the more impressive.
Campanaro goes into Saturday's game against NC State leading the ACC in receptions per game (8.6) while ranking third in receiving yards per game (86.3). I had a chance to catch up with him this week and here is a little of what he had to say.
What has worked so well for you this season?
Michael Campanaro: I think the offensive coaching staff does such a great job each week with our game plan and scheming against the team we’re going against. It helps out a lot. Tanner Price has been playing well. When he’s back there throwing the ball well, it makes our jobs as receivers easier. Breaking my hand earlier, it was tough missing those games. Being back out here helping the team get the W's is what’s most important.
When you got hurt against Duke, did you know how bad it was?
MC: I didn’t. I finished the drive, and my hand was real numb. I came off, and I was working with the trainers and I told them I couldn’t squeeze anything. They looked at it, and I went back out and I caught a little bubble screen and that’s when I knew. My hand went completely numb and it hurt. We went in the back, and I was about to shoot it up but before we could do that, the X-rays came back broken, so it was pretty rough.
What was it like having to sit out?
MC: It was tough. It was especially tough because we played Maryland the next week, and I live 10-15 minutes away from Maryland growing up. A lot of family and friends were going to come to the game, so that was a tough game to sit out and Virginia that’s close to home, and I have friends on that team, so those were especially tough.
The offense struggled when you were out. What did you make of its inconsistency?
MC: The position I play in our offense touches the ball a lot, so we were getting into a rhythm and groove. So when something like that happens, we had to readjust. Any time you’re throwing in some new stuff, some new wrinkles, there’s going to be some errors. But those guys the way they responded, fighting back against Virginia and getting that W, that was a big victory for us. We feel like we’re getting back on track now. The defense has been playing great. As an offense, we’re slowly starting to get back into our rhythm.
How did you feel when you came back against Clemson, and what kind of protection did you have on your hand?
MC: It was a very hectic few days leading up to that game. I wasn’t expecting to play in that game, and then some things went right with my hand. I didn’t catch a ball until Tuesday night. It was a lot of fun being out there, just trying to give the guys a spark. Clemson is such a great team, they put a whipping on us but it was good to be out there. I have a metal splint that goes on top of my hand, and goes all the way around and into my palm that was made by our team trainers, and then I had to tape up my pinkie and ring finger because I broke my fourth metacarpal in my hand. So it was tough because I hate having anything on my hand, but I get my fingers back this week against NC State. I don’t have to tape them anymore, but I still have to wear that split inside my glove.
So last week against Boston College, you had a splint and your fingers taped up?
MC: Yes. I’ve practiced with it all week, but I think having your fingers taped is more aggravating than the actual splint. The team trainer, Chris Ina, we worked with these splints for four, five hours just figuring out which is the most comfortable, and he was customizing them. He did a really good job with making one that I felt real comfortable with catching the ball.
So you had a bad wheel, a bad hand, and tied the ACC record last week. Simple question: How did you do that?
MC: Going into the game, I knew we were going to be throwing the ball a lot. Tanner got a lot of time back there, and the offensive line did a great job protecting him Saturday. We knew playing against BC they do a lot of things with their zone, and they give you a lot of dump-offs and underneath things, and they make you work it down the field. I catch a lot of those under routes. Tanner found me a lot Saturday. I was thankful for him looking my way. I was just happy we got the W. It was a must-win for us, and I was happy to contribute to the W.
Did you know you were on record pace?
MC: I had no idea until after the game, someone told me.
If you had known would you have lobbied for one more catch?
MC: If I knew I would have told Tanner to throw me a bubble or a little screen.
How is your ankle feeling now?
MC: It’s feeling good. I’m real happy with how it's feeling. After that game, usually Sunday morning or Monday you get a feeling whether you hurt it more in the game or if it’s headed in the right direction. So it’s definitely headed in the right direction.
You guys need one more win to become bowl eligible. How are you feeling about your chances?
MC: We’re feeling good. It’s a big-time game for us, a lot on the line. We need one more to win a bowl and also it’s an in-state rivalry game, and any time you play any team on Tobacco Road, there’s a sense around the team, that everything’s amped up a little bit, so we’re anxious to go down to NC State to try and get a W. They’re 5-4 just like us so they’re going to be fired up as well. This past win was big for us, and it’s given us a little momentum going into this week.