Full Transcript: Coach Rod

Who'll replace the newly injured guys, the kicking and punting game, the running backs, wear and tear on Denard ... more.

QUESTION: Were there any injuries of significance in the game?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yes, Mike Jones suffered a broken leg, so tough luck again. So he will probably be having surgery and his status is obviously doubtful for the rest of the year. Brandon Herron sprained an ankle. He will be day-to-day.

QUESTION: On who will replace Jones…

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, Mike was a backup but JB (Fitzgerald) can play both positions and so can... I think Mark Moundros can play a couple different positions. We'll probably get Kenny did he means on ready, as well. Kevin Leach is another guy that can play, he can play will linebacker and he'll play the outside hybrid safety, too. So Kevin's got some experience, as well.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how the defense played minus the big plays? Were there some pretty good moments?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it's hard, you have to count the big plays in there. If you did take them away, there were... I think they did get six three-and-outs, which is one of our goals that we look out defensively, how many three-and-outs did they get, and they got six, which is normally a pretty good game. But it was a different one from the first one in that I believe each team had 17 possessions compared to eight in the first game. So it was almost like we played twice as many possessions. They got some plays on us. So, we can play better. I don't think we tackled... we missed a lot more tackles in the second game. Some of it was their players and some of it was technique by our guys. But there's a lot of cleaning up to do.

QUESTION: You've been saying for the past couple of years that the team is not good enough to play poorly and win; still getting a win, is that a sign that you are moving in that direction?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Somewhat. But still, I think we played well enough, it wasn't all poorly. I mean, some of the penalties were really some of them I still question, but nonetheless, we had them and you have to overcome them. A couple of the coverages, I don't think it was a coverage bust as much as it was a technique within the coverage that was busted. And those are certainly plays that we would like to have back. But we are still not good enough to play poorly and win. We are not deep enough yet. We are not experienced enough yet and I don't want to test that out. We didn't play as well, probably as consistently as we did in the first game, but then again, we made enough big plays at times, a couple of the interceptions were huge plays and did enough good things on offense to win it.

QUESTION: As far as the running backs, were the holes not there?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, we ran hard. Really, the running backs, there was not a lot of missed reads on them. It was just the way they were playing us. They were moving up front and doing some stunts and had they do that, it opens up more things for the quarterback. There were a few reads, as I mentioned after the game, Denard would like to have back, but for the most part, his reads were pretty sharp in the run game. They defended a certain way, was taking away the running back and that freed up Denard some.

QUESTION: Overall, are you okay with the development of the running backs?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Yeah, I think our biggest improvement in the running back... with the running backs, need to be not involved in the running but some of the other aspects of it, some of the blocking and some of the route running, and that wasn't bad. They caught a couple nice passes but our running backs can block better than they did and we can block better up front than we did. Our downfield blocking was probably better than it was in the first game but not as good as it can be with the wide-outs.

QUESTION: Did you say anything to Denard?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, shoe is still untied. Still got that big 'ole smile on his face. He's continuing to grow and mature in the offense. I think I see a little bit of that each week. I think going on the road, not just for him, but for all of the guys that were young guys, that experience had to help a little bit, because you had to communicate louder, and they were in a hostile environment, had to keep their poise and that was probably as painful as it was to watch that last pass go over our head and them get the lead at the end. I didn't see any panic whatsoever on anybody on the sidelines and they kept their poise just like it was at the beginning of the game. So I think that's a growing experience, and I told the team, and they know that, and they know this going forward, that we are going to face adversity in every game, that's where we are at. We are not going to just go up there and everything go our way all the time. Even the first game, we faced a little adversity when they started to come back and certainly we did on Saturday. I think our team grows up a little bit in that, and certainly your experience, the freshmen DBs, those guys, I'm sure they will learn from it and move forward.

QUESTION: Denard, the type of guy he is off the field... what impresses you about Denard?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: He's just a good guy. But I'm biased. I think we've got a bunch of good guys. I think that's part of our recruiting philosophy, I'm sure any coach will tell you, you have some that can succeed here athletically, certainly and some can succeed here and get a Michigan degree. But also, you want good guys. Life's a lot easier if you're a good guy. I've been saying that for years. And we've got a bunch of good guys. Sometimes guys are maybe misunderstood and they show their goodness as they go along, but some guys, as soon as you meet them, the day they are on campus, boy, this is a great guy. And we got a lot of guys like that, and Denard is one of them. That's why I'm not worried as much about all this attention and everything he's getting because he's a good guy. He was raised right. He's got a great support in his family, and he just loves playing football and he loves playing here at Michigan with his teammates.

QUESTION: How do you handle the workload during the week in practice?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: We practice the same way all the time. You know, will we run as much during practice in the games? No, but we'll blow the whistle quicker. In the game they don't blow the Whistle until he's down. He's not going to have 87-yard runs in practice, we'll blow the Whistle. He may get 20 yards but you have to practice and you've got to do what you do and he's not going to get hit. Our quarterbacks don't get hit. By after about... for us, it was when camp started, they didn't get hit at all once we started camp in August. We are certainly not going to beat him up ourselves. I think you're more worried about, you know, quarterbacks when they are throwing, kickers or punters, that they can over through and over kick too much in practice so we are really cognizant in that. We talked about that quite a bit in the preseason. The way our practices run, we are not too concerned with that.

QUESTION: You mentioned you're not really concerned about the attention he's getting, but second straight week, somebody had him as National Player of the Week. Do you have to shield him to a certain degree from the attention or demand on him?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, certainly, Dave (Ablauf) and Bruce (Madej) and I have talked about that already; that everybody... and I hope you all can be patient with us, because everybody wants to have a piece of him and talk to him, because everybody's talking to him and that's a good thing for him and his family and it's a good thing for the program and the university. He's still a student athlete and he's got a full class load and he's got classes to be ready for and a game to be ready for. So we are really going to limit it and that's probably not going to make a lot of people happy because they all want a piece of the hot new storey or whatever you want to call it, but he's got a day job so to speak. So we'll give you all a little bit of time on Mondays for about an hour and then you have to let Denard be a student athlete. He's not a professional. He's a college student athlete with a big class load and a lot of other things going on, and we'll shield it that way. And Denard is not one that wants it. I think you all will see... I'm sure everybody likes to be talked about in a good way, but that's not what he's... that's not his agenda. He just wants to win games and play for Michigan.

QUESTION: Will his workload against UMASS be significantly less anyway?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: We'll do whatever we have to take to win the game. I'm just telling you... our game plan is whatever we've got to do to win the game and then when he get in the game, okay, as the game goes along, teams play us a certain way, what do we got to do to win this game. Notre Dame came out and played, what we thought in the first part of the game and then they quickly changed and did some things that they had not seen. So we had to change and do some things differently, as well, and so you've got to adjust... every time you've got to adjust during the game and do what you've got to do to win it.

QUESTION: Shaw and Smith, can you talk about them and what you think of them so far?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: They are playing hard, not breaking a lot of big runs yet but I really like their effort. They are into the games as far as... they have done a great job as far as even helping Denard in a loud environment of communicating and they understand the offense. So I've been really pleased with their play so far. We just have not got as many of the big runs. And there's things they can improve on, but I would like to get some of those other backs into the flow. I think Mike Cox and Stephan Hopkins and even Teric Jones have shown us they are getting closer to getting ready to play. We are hoping that Fitz Toussaint may be ready this weekend. We'll know more the next couple of days but we have to get a couple more guys ready.

QUESTION: How important is that running game? Obviously Denard has shown what he can do, but if it's a threat for him, how much will that help you guys?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's a threat now. Maybe one of the reasons that Denard as got a lot of yards rushing is because he is a threat. Listen, we get 500 yards rushing, if all 500 come from one guy, I don't care. 500 is 500. As I said after the game, you've got to play all 11. That's part of our deal. We have to do what we've got to do to win the game and score points, and we are going to make them defend all 11. Everybody says, well, you can't run your quarterback 20-some times a game. Well do they say that when they hand it off to Barry Sanders you can't run Barry Sanders 27 times a game? If he can handle it, he can handle it. But would you like to have more balance? Yeah, if they give you that. If they give you more balance, yeah, it would be great, because then everybody's happy. But talking about a team game, let's talk about being a one-man, you know... I promise you, Denard wouldn't have whatever he's got rushing if he didn't have some dudes blocking for him up front and guys catching the ball. He'll be the first one to tell you that. Is he getting more than the normal person would at quarterback? Sure, because he's a talented guy that's running very, very hard right now. But we have got other guys that can do it.

QUESTION: Where are you at with kicking right now? Could it still be Gibbons?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, it's open. It was open and Seth Broekhuizen kicked the last extra point, maybe you all didn't notice, that was a pretty critical extra point to get us up by four. So he got a little bit nervous probably with that one. But it's going to be an open competition all week. I could not tell you today who will be the starting kicker on Saturday. But it's a concern when you're not kicking the field goals and they have got the talent to do it. We just have to execute it. Certainly Will can punt a lot better than he did on Saturday. He just was not on his game but I'm not worried about him. He'll be fine.

QUESTION: Is more an a factor?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Justin Meram, he's doing a lot of soccer, so he's not been over as much for us to really get probably a better evaluation of him. So he's still got a chance. I'm not sure what days this week he'll be with us, but that's what's probably what's holding him back a little bit but he's a great soccer player, so we understand that.

QUESTION: With Will was it technique, nerves?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: I didn't ask him. I just said, "Hey, can you kick a little bit better." (Laughter). Will is such a competitive guy, you know, he'll be the first one... and he may be kicking too much. We have got to look at his load and see how much he's kicking in it pregame and all that. But he's a very, very talented guy, very competitive guy, and he'll be fine.

QUESTION: You guys are really high on Cam Gordon, he's struggling, how do you address that?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: He made two bad plays. And two of them were more... it wasn't a mental bust. It was more as I said earlier, it was more of a technique thing, for whatever reason, he misjudged the angle, flight of the ball, what have you. He'll be fine. That's another guy that's very, very conscientious almost to a fault, we'll keep working on it, he'll be okay.

QUESTION: Do you chuckle that the perception of you in this program is better than it was, with two wins, to have more on the bandwagon?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: What was the question? QUESTION: Do you like it or ignore it or how do you handle Rich Rodríguez the coach?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: All I worry about is things I can control. You know, am I a different guy now than I was two weeks ago? Same guy. Same coaches. Same players. Same staff. Same people. We have won two games. If somebody's perception changes that, I hope if it changes for the better, that's good. If it changes for the worse, that's not good. I worry about what I can control, and what I can't control is what somebody else's feelings are for whatever reason. I'm not going to worry about that. Everybody wants to be liked. I've said that before, everybody wants to be happy and I will live in a world where if you win, more people are happy. There's probably still some people that are unhappy, no matter what we do, and they will be unhappy the rest of their lives. (Laughter) what are you going to do? If we had lost that game in the end, there will be a lot of people who would have been mad. I would still be here and be the same guy if we lost. I would just have been probably briefer in my comments and quicker to get out of here (laughing).

QUESTION: James Madison beating Virginia Tech, did that help focus your guys more?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know. I'm going to bring it up but I think our guys see that. You're seeing it more now, and again, you guys will probably do the research. I've probably seen it more now the last couple of years than ever. Because of the parity in college football, not only Division I, I still call it Division I, II, FCS and FBS, the parity is more than it's ever been. There's already been, what, five or six this year of FCS schools beating FBS schools; is that right? I-AA is beating it. How do you figure? How does Kansas lose an opener to North Dakota state, and then they play a very good Georgia Tech team? I know Georgia Tech is a very good football team and the next week turnaround and beat Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech who has got a great program and Frank Beamer is one of best coaches in college football, always has been, terrific program and playing the home game and they lose at home to James Madison, who I think I played a few years back. I mean, that's... they got... there's players everywhere and you think it's coach speak and coaches saying, well, you've got to be aware. There's players everywhere. They are not... it's not like you're playing 18- and 19-year-old kids against 14-year-olds. We are playing, it's the same kids, same age, and in some respects, it's different. And the difference is, in the FCS level, the good teams, the Top-25, 30 teams, are really, really good, and really competitive. Now, if you play a middle or average or below-average FCS team, the Division I teams are not going to have a any problem. But if you play a good one, you're going to have to play. We are playing a good one, UMASS is one of the better ones in the FCS. So our guys will see that on film and they will get their attention.

QUESTION: What about Anthony Nielsen, your best receiver and how big is it to limit the plays?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: That's the key is tackle. You get a guy that's explosive and has got a lot of experience, we have to tackle well. We gave up two big ones Saturday, and it wasn't because of tackling; it was because of poor angles. But either poor angles or poor tackling and you get big plays and all of a sudden you get a team and you get some confidence and there you go. They are going to get in shotgun and throw a lot of quick passes I'm sure. They had 80 or 90-some snaps or 80-some snaps in the last game and they will try to control the clock that way and do that deal so we have to be ready for that.

QUESTION: Was Nielsen, do you know, pretty highly-recruited guy, did you guys go after him?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I don't remember recruiting him. But like I said, this notion that you don't have to be listed as a recruiting service, five-star recruit to be a very good college player and even NFL guy. Just look around the country. Look at the drafts. Look at the draft last year, how many guys got drafted from FCS or Division II schools compared to the so-called powers in Division I. It's not like it used to be. It's different now. There are players everywhere and I think that trend is going to keep going that way.

QUESTION: Can you talk about Roy Roundtree, when did you know he was ready to go?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: He practiced all week. We were just taking it slow during the week, and by Thursday of last week, he was doing everything and there were no issues with the doctors. Roy is the kind of individual, you put him in there, he's going to battle and compete and not worry getting hit. He made some nice plays and big catches for us. I thought all of our guys did a better job downfield be blocking at times but we can still get better with it. Roy is one of those guys that probably plays faster in a game, you know, when the lights are on, and you know, there's a big play to be made, Roy seems to enjoy that kind of scenario.

QUESTION: What was your view of the Notre Dame touchdown that looked like you didn't have possession, was there any chance to challenge that?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: I didn't see it. I can't see it on the field and the coaches can't see it on the field because there was no video replay or anything like that. So from my vantage point, I could not have told you what was happening. The coaches in the box, it wasn't even brought to my attention until after the game. And from what I understand, it wasn't... I don't know if the NBC TV whatever it was didn't have the replay available at that time or the officials didn't review it, but I won't have known, anyway. Plus, if that were the case, if I would have saw... looked like it was something, certainly a teaching moment, I would tell our players to run down and jump on the ball. If there's no one would jump on the ball, the offense gets that. If somebody does do that and lays the ball down early before they cross the goal line, we might as well cover them up and let them review it and see what happens. We have our rule, we have to hand the ball to ran official. That should never happen with a Michigan guy. We hand the ball to the official. I've heard and seen pictures where the ball was out of his hands before he even crosses the goal line. That's a teachable moment for our guys from a defensive standpoint for you.

QUESTION: Does it mean anything to you where the program is ranked right now?

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Two games in? It didn't mean anything to us to be unranked other than the guys want to earn respect and all that kind of stuff. It's two games in.

QUESTION: On Stephen Hopkins scoring efficiency…

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, every time he carries, he scores. Got a good average going. He's pretty excited. I'm sure all of them backs will probably get excited and get on the one-yard line and call their number. He's a bigger back. But he's got a lot of lineback skills and he's getting closer and he is encloser. We repped him a lot during camp and he's getting closer and closer to doing a lot of the one-back stuff because he's a talented big guy. It was good to get him a little bit of playing time, but going forward, we are going to need him throughout the course of the season.

QUESTION: On Will Campbell lining up at fullback on Stephen Hopkins' touchdown…

COACH RODRIGUEZ: He did a nice job. Will will probably tell you he knocked a guy into the stands. He didn't do that. But him and Quentin were really excited. They couldn't wait for the game to start and hoped we got a short-yard situation. Will looked pretty good there. We have some other plans for him maybe doing some other kind of stuff like that.

QUESTION: On Dave Molk's play thus far…

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, David, he's playing pretty well. He's a big, strong guy, and as I mentioned last week, he's the glue as far as knowing what's going on out there, and you're talking about keeping everybody's poise, when we get in the huddle before we go out on the field, he's the first guy that's kind of like, we'll be all right. He and Steve Schilling are the two emotional leaders up front.

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