"We’re a little banged up," Rodriguez said. "I think there are 25 guys on the injury report this morning. I’m not going to go through the whole list, but it is going to be an important week to get guys healthy.
"We have to get some young guys ready to play at a high level against a very talented Washington team that may have three or four guys on defense alone that will be very high NFL draft picks, I’m talking first or second rounders. They might be the biggest team we play all year. They have running backs as big as our nose guard."
"I haven’t looked to compare it to where we were at in the ninth game last year," Rodriguez said. "Fortunately for us, some of them, or a lot of them, are guys that are day to day, so even the trainers can’t say, ‘Well maybe tomorrow they can make a great recovery.’
"They have today off and then tomorrow is their only physical practice. They have to get a little work in. If they can’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday, it is hard for them to be effective on Saturday. Hopefully by Wednesday we will have a lot of those guys taking a few reps and again by Saturday we will get a few more."
"As we thought all year, it is a team that is just going to have to keep competing," Rodriguez said. "We gave up the big play the first play of the game and our guys just played. They just keep competing. We’re not getting a lot of three and outs, which I wish we could get more.
"Even with that being said, when a team is driving the ball on us, our guys are playing until the end and making them truly earn when they get touchdowns. I think our defensive staff is doing a really good job of preparing each week because it is difficult.
"In our league you see so many different systems with so many talented skill players that it’s hard week to week to get them ready and they have done a really nice job."
"Back at one of my other previous stops is when we were in the top ten in the country in both offense and defense," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes the offense, because it is offense and it’s flashy, gets all the credit and that’s where the headlines go.
"We will be really good when we are in the top 10, top 15 in both. It’s hard to be in the top 15 defensively because of the quality of players we play against in our league. The days of having a dominant defense where you hold people to seven points or three points or something like that, it’s hard to do that on a week to week basis."
"We haven’t gotten a lot of push," Rodriguez said. "Some of the short yardage runs were some of them we weren’t getting push and some of them were we could have had a better play call and they just outnumbered us. Sometimes you point to the O-line as being at fault, but it wasn’t all them.
"I thought we did okay up front, we got better in the second half when we really had to. We’re still not getting the push that we really need and you have to give credit to some of the defenses, especially this front that we’re playing this week.
"You’re talking about six or seven are seniors and a couple of those guys are NFL guys, so it’s going to be a challenge and we better play with great leverage. One thing about our players is I think they know that when they watch it on film and if they want to compare themselves against the best and guys that will be playing on Sundays, they will get a chance to do it this weekend."
"He can be the best player on either side," Rodriguez said. "He’s 6’1, 6’2, 230 and one of the fastest guys on the field. Just extremely athletic and he needs to go ahead and declare this week for the draft before Saturday before they charter the plane. I think he should really take care of himself and get ready for next April or May. He is a great player and they use him in all the right ways."
"When you are on the outside you just look at wins and losses, so I think when you are on the inside you look at more things," Rodriguez said. "We thought we had it going in the right direction from the very first spring practice we had, but inevitably you are judged on your results.
"We could be better and not win as many games because our competition is getting that much better. I think winning helps and certainly it has helped from a perception standpoint, but I can tell and I think anybody in the program can tell, things are going the way we want it to from year one.
"Winning is the ultimate judgment that everybody bases it on and we have three big games left. As I told the team, we’re at the point now we’re in a bowl game, but every win you make puts you higher on the bowl ladder and there’s a whole lot at stake if you can win out. In November you want to play meaningful games and we’re playing meaningful games in November."