Joel Rodriguez Q&A

Joel Rodriguez is a senior center from Pace who is rebounding from a broken ankle he suffered in the Pittsburgh game causing him to miss the Orange Bowl. Rodriguez and his teammates would like to play in the Orange Bowl again this year for the National Championship. To get there, it all starts with spring ball.

How are workouts coming along with the team?

This week we are doing morning stations and that's where the whole team is out there and we rotate through stations. It is part strength and part agility. Then there are some stations that are more football related. We are just trying to get back into football shape. On top of that we are doing are regular workouts in terms of running.

How are you recovering from your ankle injury?

I feel good. I was lucky enough that the offensive line was playing well and I wasn't really needed for the bowl game. I wasn't ready yet though either. I was able to take all of that time off and really work on my rehab. I just did therapy a lot over break and had to learn how to run again. All of that rehab paid off because I have not missed any workouts with the team. It is going good. The ultimate test is when you play against someone to see if it can withstand the constant pushing.

Do you expect to be ready to go when practices start?

Yeah. As of right now I will be. I have to try and hold down my job obviously. I am going into practices as the starting center and hopefully I can get better every day. I'm sure the leg will be sore the first couple of days and it will be weird getting into the swing of things. But once that goes away I'm pretty sure I'll be okay. I am full go once spring practices start.

What is your height/weight at right now and where do you want to be in the fall?

Well I haven't got any taller so I am still 6-3. I have put on about 15 pounds since the end of the season so I am about 295 now. I would like to stay there for the fall, but I will probably lose 5-10 pounds once we are start fall practices and two-a-days. I'd be happy if I started the season at 290.

What are some things that you want to improve upon during spring practices?

First of all I need to get my leg and ankle back into football shape. Its one thing to be in shape running drills and running. It is a little different when you are out there in pads and you have to make cuts with guys pushing you. Number two, I think the way I played last year has it set up for me that it's my job to lose this year. Last year I came in and I was fighting for a job. So I want to take more of a leadership role so the younger guys have someone to look at. Most likely, we are going to have Rashad Butler in there as a first time starter. Tony Tella will play a lot and we pretty much have an open audition at left guard with Derrick Morse, Andrew Bain, Alex Pou, and Tyler McMeans. All of those guys will be getting reps and they will be right next to me. I want to take a leadership role, not necessarily yelling and screaming, but helping guys making sure they know who they are blocking and how they are going to block. It's easy for one receiver to play well or one corner to play well and the other is playing bad. With an offensive line, if one guy messes up its screws up the whole line. We can't afford a weak link. I am only going to be as good as my left guard is and Eric is only going to be as good as his left guard.

How would you evaluate the performance of the offensive line in 2003?

I think we did good considering the kind of year we had. We started off in fall ball and we lost Joe for 10 weeks or whatever it was. Then Vernon went down and it was a tough year for Vernon this year because he played hurt the majority of the season. Carlos got hurt a couple games and then I was hurt at the end of the year. We got to the point at the end of the year and Eric Winston was playing guard, Chris Myers was playing center, and we had Rashad Butler in there. The whole year we had guys in and out of the lineup and rotating positions. Considering all of that, it was a pretty good year for us. If we had the same five guys all year long I think we would have better. Hopefully this year we can stay healthy.

What are your thoughts on the running game for the 2004?

I think it's going to be exciting. If you look at what we have on campus right now, we have Tyrone Moss who really did a good job at the end of the season last year. He was giving Jarrett a good break and it got to the point where he was almost getting in more than Jarrett was. He is a guy that you have to give routinely and with him you will vary rarely get a loss because he is hard to tackle. When Frank gets healthy, well we know what he can do. He has a lot of fight in him. Quadtrine Hill is really, really working hard right now and he will be moved to tailback in the spring. He has put some weight on and he is faster. Kyle Cobia is a fifth year senior and Talib Humphrey brings some flash to the fullback position. At least one of the freshman running backs will probably get some carries next year. I personally want to walk out with one 1,000 yard back and it is very possible to have two guys get it or at least close to it.

Has it hit you yet that this is your senior year?

Yeah it has. I remember when I visited Miami as a recruit and I was on the field talking with Matt Sweeney, a defensive tackle, on senior day. He was telling me to make sure I enjoy it because it goes by so fast. I'm sure this season and this year will go by real fast. We have only 10-12 seniors and only five or six from my recruiting class.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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