Q. In the past when you guys have had some defensive games that haven't gone as well as you've hoped, you talked about getting more involved in those meetings. Is that something that's the plan now, as well?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, I'll probably spend a little bit of time with them today. Our defensive staff knows I think what we've got to do, get a fix. But I'll spend probably 15 or 20 minutes today with them. You know, during the course of practice, we go good on good, so I'm able to watch that, but I may play a little bit closer to it. Some of the problems that we've got defensively are not going to be fixed overnight, but certainly some of our issues on Saturday have to be fixed immediately. Our guys are pretty conscientious, I probably said that after the game and both our staff and our players on defense, and this is an important week for us to fix those issues.
Q. So much of the emotion plays into the technical issues, and how hard is it to get up for a Notre Dame pitch?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You worry about that, a letdown after a good win, and you have an FCS opponent coming in, but I worry about it more in preparation sometimes than the game, because you know, is the focus going to be there during the week. I really thought it was. That's why I was surprised that defensively we didn't play very well. But, you know, again, it probably was something to it. Hard to figure out 18-, 19-year-old kids sometimes, especially younger guys, but certainly did not play with the type of urgency defensively that we did the week before.
Q. Just from watching the film, how many of maybe some of the problems have you had defensively or similar to last year, and what the issues were last year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You know, I don't know. There's some I guess. But it's a new week, new year, and it was a different week. I don't want to belabor the point. I think there's everybody involved with our defense, I'm sure felt fortunate with the win, so we are happy with the win. But didn't feel that we played well. And I think anybody that's involved in our program on defense will tell you that. So I think last year is last year. You know, last week is last week. What's important for us right now is to fix the issues we had on Saturday and play a lot better going forward, or we'll be in trouble again.
Q. Was there a consistency about the why of losing containment?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, some of it is -- some of it was fundamental. Some of it was, they may have got us on a call. We had a certain call on and some of it was just fundamental, we were there and just didn't redirect to keep contain.
That was the most frustrating part about that, because we had stressed about keeping contain, and particularly throughout the course of a game. But it didn't happen and it cost us. But we had other errors, too, we had errors offensively and obviously our kicking game, we are struggling with the kicks right now. But all of the good part is, I think we can fix all the fundamental part and technical part we can fix.
Q. What do you do with it, do you spend any extra time on the kicking game, from punt team to punt return to field goal, that was --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Hey, we are spending as much time as ever, if not more. But sometimes it comes down to the kick, and fielding the kick. We didn't have a lot of opportunities to field a kick. The one that bounced, Jeremy misjudged the bounce on the thing, and that was almost a big turnover. But other than that, it's just kicking and making the kicks.
They have the ability to do it, and so it's a situation where they have just got to do it under pressure at game time.
Q. The holders, right?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: The holders, they feel comfortable. Rogan and Drew Dileo, I think Gibbons feels comfortable with Dileo and Seth feels comfortable with Rogan. So they work together quite a bit. So there was no snap or hold issues.
It's just kicking under pressure, and those guys can do it. You know, I think one of y'all must have written something about the student body coming out because we've had several requests. I just ran into a kid in the parking lot that said, "Coach Rod?"
"I heard you may be looking for a kicker, where do I try out?" (Laughter) I appreciate the advertisement, who knows. But we do have guys that can do it. And we have to continue to put pressure on them. And if more guys show up for tryout and we make it competitive like in practice, maybe somebody will step up.
Q. Did you exchange information with the kid?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I directed him right to the guys. He may be out there this afternoon, we'll see, if he can get a physical fast enough.
Q. Obviously you're very close with Urban and you know what happened with Mark. How concerning is this maybe to your profession or you personally?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's probably most coaches have probably known this for years; it's a different lifestyle in that you have to take care of yourself. Is there more stress now than before? I don't know. It's certainly a more public be job and from that respect -- and I've said this before, that when you're in certain professions and coaching is one of them and probably university administration, politicians, you don't just work your job; you live your job. So you're never really away from it. And I think that probably adds more to it now than it used to be. But you know that going into it. And some of it is, that's just life in general. I mean, sometimes you know, your health issues will come up. But I know there's probably been a lot more recently, because of what happened with Urban and now certainly with Mark, guys that are relatively young and in great shape, and you never know. It's hard to get away from your job; I'm speaking from experience. You don't go home and leave your job at the office. It's just not possible to do in this kind of profession.
Q. What do you do to try to stay healthy?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You yell at practice. That releases tension. (Laughter). No, I work out five days a week. I usually come in in the morning. I have a little StairMaster that's actually got my name on it. I go down and do StairMaster and I actually started lifting weights, too, back with Coach Barwis back in the spring, that was the first time in years just to get a little bit more exercise in, and I felt a lot better since doing that. But what's hard is a lot of coaches will tell you, it's hard to devote the time, because you know, you want to watch the film, and you've got a lot of things to do, but I think you have to do that. And as a coach, and I'm sure all coaches are the same way, you encourage your staff to do it, and particularly whether it's lunch time or early in the morning, give them some time where they can actually do some exercise and all that, because it's a busy time, and if you don't devote yourself to it, you could get in trouble.
Q. How many hours' sleep?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Me? I'd like to say five. I've not slept probably three hours straight in years. The last three years, there's been a little more stress. I probably haven't slept that much.
But, I don't know, you sleep a couple hours and you're up for an hour and you sleep for a couple hours. But if you can get five, that's good.
Q. Do you think that game against UMASS serves as maybe more of a wake-up call for guys going into a game like Bowling Green?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think maybe on a lot of levels, you would hope you wouldn't have to do that. You know, if you had a mature team that's kind of been there, done that, you wouldn't maybe have the same. But I think we have a mature team from certain standpoints, but maybe we don't from the level that I want to. Maybe we are assuming that we are more mature than we are and look at our guys and there's a lot of young players and there are lessons to be learned.
So we'll use this, certainly, as lessons to be learned from today. And again, whether we -- no matter who we play and whether you win or lose, after Monday, then you have to move on to the next one. But there are lessons learned, and as I said before, we told the guys before the game, they have got players you can see it on film, and they have got guys the same age or older, and they execute, they can do some things. And Bowling Green is the same thing. They have a lot of good players and they are scoring a lot of points and they are going to present some new and different problems.
I've said this before; we cannot mess around and expect to win games. We are not at that stage in our program right now.
Q. How did Lewan look on film?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He played really well. Played well to the point where it's Huyge or Lewan is the starter this week, and he's only in I think the last -- we only had 56 snaps on offense. I think he played the last 20. But for the last 20, he was physical, knew what he was doing, and you know, he's jumped right at -- that's a definite or, to be determined later in the week.
Q. You mentioned Bowling Green; anybody in particular that offensively that kind of gives you guys --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: All their skill guys, their wide receivers and running back, I've been really impressed with him. A bunch of big guys up front. And both quarterbacks played well. I know one got hurt, but he I've been really impressed with the skill guys. And they have got good speed on defense. They run around pretty well. They do a lot of different things offensively. It's a spread, shotgun, and you know, they do different formations on balance and no back and then everything in between.
Q. Can you comment on your involvement with Coach to Cure?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Being involved the with football coaches association and every year we take up a cause, because it's so visible, college football, as you all know. And every year we kind of take up a cause that as an organization or as a group that we can help promote some kind of charitable and the Coach to Cure MD took off a couple years ago, it's very, very popular and I think it's really helped. And then we have also taken up a cause to try to curb the teenage suicide and there's so many things as coaches that we probably don't even realize we can do to help because of our games being so visible that -- to wear an armband, to make a PSA or something along those lines, we're would same way, fortunate here. We have been so involved with the Mott Children's Hospital, the student athletes of Michigan, it's as good as anywhere I've seen in the country how our students get involved and help, and personally, the organ transplant is something I've recently been getting close to. We had a little challenge with the Buckeyes between Michigan and Ohio, we can have the most organ donors or sign up for the organ donors, so I'm going to be pushing that a little bit, too.
Q. Richard Ash we haven't seen yet --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, they are freshmen, they are practicing, they are ready to roll. They look like they are headed for redshirt years, they still need some development.
Q. They have been cleared --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yes.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Tate, I've been pleased with his attitude. He's worked hard. He's still getting better, as is Devin. And the games have not gone the situation where we have played multiple quarterbacks, which sometimes we will, but if Denard gets running and he gets tired and needs a break or something, I wouldn't hesitate at all to put Tate or Devin in right now and that's a good situation to be in.
Q. And if you're up 35-17, you get a stop, do you put one of them in there?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we'd probably have rolled a lot of guys. I guess I never felt overly comfortable. I felt comfortable if we had the ball, we could score. But the way we were playing defensively, the way we were moving the ball, at 35-17, we would have had to have the ball with that lead to make some switches. We were prepared to do that at that time.
Q. That would have been a good opportunity for one or two of those guys or one of your running backs?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, that's the one position we have not played enough guys, and we have enough guys ready to play. We've got a host of them. I mean, Stephen Hopkins, Mike Cox, we are trying to get more confidence in them from practice because the ability is there. It's just having the confidence in them and running the offense. We don't want to put a guy in and really limit our package. We want to be able to run our whole offense with them. So with Mike Cox and Stephen and then hopefully Fitzgerald Toussaint who came back to practice last week, but was still I think not 100%. This week he should be a little bit better. So we'll try to get more of those guys involved this week.
Q. How do you balance the whole redshirt thing? Would you hate to burn a season if they only carried the ball eight times --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I'm not worried about that. If we need them to help us win games this year, I'm not going to redshirt them. I don't even factor that into the decision. If the guy is just going to be on the kickoff team and run down once or twice, you think about that. But for right now, our thought process is, what do we got to do to win this game right now. And that's always been the case. But you don't want to play -- the whole thing with redshirting, you don't want to play a guy before he's ready unless will you have to. Right now we are playing some guys defensively that may not quite be ready but we have got to get them ready because that's all we got, that's where we are so thin at. But it's not fair to them or to you to put guys in that are not quite ready. Some of these guys we have had to force feed them to get them ready, particularly on defense.
Q. Marvin Robinson we heard about last week, are there other injuries you're concerned about?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Marvin will be back this week. Looks like Carvin Johnson is still questionable, coming back from his knee. We are hoping he'll be able to do more this week.
Q. Can you talk about Darryl's development in light of all of the off the field issues and how he's matured?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He has. I've sensed a more mature Daryl Stonum since camp started. He had a really good camp and his being off to a good start is not surprising me because it's carrying over to what he did in camp. It's nice to see his dad and grandmother, first time his grandmother I think had ever flown, and she came up to the game, and I got a chance to see her on Friday. And so I know he was excited about that. You know, I do, I sense a more -- we needed that, because we talked to Darryl, and Odoms and Junior Hemingway and we don't have any seniors at wide-outs and they are the seniors and have to be the leaders of the group. With Darryl's history, he had to do the right things off the field, as well and so far he has. I'm proud of him.
Q. With Stonum, the steps he's made off the field in terms of maturing, how much does that go hand in hand and maturing and helping you win on the football field?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I certainly think it's related, in a lot of ways. Sometimes when a guy messes up and everybody wants to throw him out to the Wolves, and I understand it sometimes because you get frustrated when guys mess up opportunities. But it's pleasing I'm sure to our fans, it is certainly for the coaches, when you see a guy grow and mature, he gets it. Sometimes you think, okay, he's messed around for a year or two, but now he gets it. You see that maturity kind of kick in. It's the same I think with anybody that's had kids or children, teenagers.
I've heard a dad say one time that he lost his daughter when she was 13 and got her back when she was 18, just from a maturity standpoint. I'm dealing with guys 17 or 18 that sometimes make bad decisions, they are not a bad guy but if they continue to make them sometimes you have to have further consequences but sometimes they grow up and they just get it. I think Daryl, hopefully, gets it. He understands what he's done and now he gets it and he's matured and move on and hopefully sometimes guys like that can be really good leaders for you.
Q. In the case of Brian Wright, are you able to scheme against a kicker that you're familiar with?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Not really. Maybe other guys, if it was a lineman or something, he has particular habits or a quarterback or something, but a kicker, he's going to kick and punt. You know, we know he's got a strong leg and he did both for us, kick and punt. And he's doing -- you know, he's doing pretty well. He can kick some 70,80 yards and punt. I've seen him Boom a bunch of them. He's got a very strong leg on the kickoff. We probably know where he likes the kickoff from, and what his strengths are in the kickoffs would be, but other than that, you just defend their scheme, as opposed to the guy.
Q. Do you try and sit them down and calm their nerves?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Probably, what is this, 26 years of coaching, and I haven't figured out the right kind of approach. I don't know if any coach knows, you know; is it the hard approach, is it pat them on the back. I've done everything and in between, and especially with these guys both, you don't want to totally destroy their confidence, because our guys have the ability. They just have to do it and just relax and try to put them under pressure in practice, just so we can get an idea how they will respond in the game. But going into the game is a little bit different. You know, Will Hagerup, I'm convinced he's going to be phenomenal, and will be, but he just dropped the ball. He's just getting experience and hopefully it doesn't happen again. He'll be fine. And the kickers, both Brandon and Seth have been a lot better in practice, or we wouldn't put them out there. But they have got to do it in the games and not just -- we'll just keep working with them, and they are competitive guys, they will be okay.
Q. Considering the issues you have kicking, do you wish Brian had maybe stayed --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I never really think about that. I mean, Brian is a great young man. I remember when he left, he wanted to get in graduate school and they had a program, I believe, that we did not have that allowed him to be eligible, and I believe his brother is there. He had a chance to be around his family. He's got his mom, Jody, he's got a great family. Seemed like he was excited about the opportunity. We weren't sure he was going to play any more when he first finished up without graduating, he was going to be done playing, but with the graduate school, exception, that thing coming out, it became an opportunity for him to play one more year.
Q. In your 26 years as a head coach, have you ever had a field goal kicking situation that is this up in the air?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Probably not this deep into the season. I think I've had several times going into the season, and maybe even the last year or two, but usually something was established more firmly once you get into games. And, well, we've had five field goal opportunities or one for five; so I don't think this deep, but that's where it is, so we have got to see if somebody can fix it. And last week, purposely, we had some, I guess, competitive situations, I guess as much as you could, without going live, and we'll do it again this week. And keep doing it until we get the problem involved.
Q. If it comes down to a fourth and one, a 26-yard field goal, or a 4th and 5, and you guys need points --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: There's a difference between fourth and one and 4th and 5. (Laughter) That's the first thing I'll tell you. Well, those are all in our thoughts right now, is it fourth and one, is it fourth and two, do we like how we are moving the football, is it on the right hash, left hash, is the wind blowing in our face, how did he kick during pregame, you know, all those things factor into -- fourth down situation will be a lot more interesting. But I still, again, I've got to have confidence they can do it but you also know the definition of insanity, right, do the same thing over and over again, but expect different results. We are not insane but at the same time we feel the guys can do it. We have seen them do it in practice. They will do it in games eventually.
Q. How frustrating is it to see them have results in practice?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's probably most frustrating, what I feel for, is for them, is for the guys. It's not because they are not trying. Gosh, I know they try and they are doing everything they can, but it's just the situation -- eventually I think whether one or both of them, is going to have his confidence take off and the situation will be solved for this year.
Q. In July, you said at the Big Ten meetings that it was insulting when people suggested this team needs offense to score a about a zillion points to compensate for the defense and special teams checks check?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Was that insulting? That is a strong word, did I say that.
Q. When someone asked, you said, yeah, I do think it's insulting. Do you think it's more accurate at this stage?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: That's insulting. (Laughter) No, I certainly think our defense has a lot more pride in their abilities and their defensive staff as do I. We can play a lot better defensively and in the first couple of games, we had really good moments of very good defense, and in the last ballgame, we just didn't play well. We played tentative, and I think I could see a little bit of confidence erode a little bit because they were moving the ball, and we were kind of on our heels somewhat, and we just got to be mature enough to snap out of that, because we have got guys that can play, and our coaches can put them in that position, and we have got to do that. But I don't -- I don't have any worries that our guys will play a lot better. And they know that, too. The only thing I feel -- if they felt after that game, I want everybody to be happy when you win, there's no question about that. But if I felt after the game defensive guys were jumping up and down and overly excited about their performance, then I would have cause for concern. They know they have to play better. And to a man, I think they will take enough pride to try to show that this week.
Full Transcript: Coach Rod off-mic
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