Full Transcript: Coach Rod Parries the Press

Coach Rod talks about the team, the injuries, Iowa ... and he parries the press when they push a little too hard about losting to MSU.

QUESTION: You talked a lot about teaching moments, and it was a tough one, but what did you learn and what did you take away from the loss?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Probably had a lot more teaching moments than I'd like, for sure out of that ballgame. We didn't execute well, and there are a lot of things we can get better at. But I thought the effort was good. They had something to do with the execution, certainly. But we were just off a little bit on offense. At times on offense we moved the ball, but other times we didn't execute well and we've got to teach. Then watching some of the things defensively, you know. Our young guys we understand are going to make some mistakes, but we've got to get better fundamentally as well. And you're going to expect that from a true freshman because he hasn't had a chance to work a lot as much as fundamentals and he hasn't been through spring practice. Everything right now is so busy getting ready for game plan. But we've got to, at some point, we have to make sure we don't forget the fundamental part of playing football. And I've talked to the staff about that. We've still got to learn to get-off blocks, the tackle, the offense to be able to sustain blocks and all that, in addition to being able to game plan and learn the schemes.

QUESTION: As you look at that game, it seemed that there were more designed runs early in the game than you had done earlier in terms of handing off. Is that accurate, first of all?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I don't think so. Going back and looking at the beginning of the game, it was probably very similar to the other plans. It just depends, again, how they play us on whether Denard hands it off or keeps it. They were playing us a certain way in the beginning, so there were probably more runs for the back. I felt comfortable in the first, I guess, the first half or so that our execution was going to be okay. It's just we had a few dropped passes, and Denard had a few missed reads. And those are the type of things if you do that in a tight ballgame against a good opponent, they'll come back to get you.

QUESTION: Can you catch us up on Mike Martin's status and the rest of the injuries?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, Mike and David Molk both kind of sprained their ankles a little bit, but they're not high ankle sprains and they should be fine. They'll be limited today. Monday's usually a day that the banged up guys will do the mental work, but not a lot of physical stuff. Then tomorrow, hopefully everybody will be ready tomorrow. The one that got us out was Martavious Odoms, like we need another injury, but he's got a broken foot. Not sure how it happened, but that will be extended time for him out.

QUESTION: How about Rogers was that just cramps?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, cramps. He should be fine today.

QUESTION: With Odoms, is that season ending?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Don't know yet.

QUESTION: Are you considering making any personnel changes at linebacker or secondary at all?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, it's been the secondary has been quite a bit. Our only change was more freshmen playing, so we're in a situation where we're playing those guys now. Ready or not, here they are. At linebacker… with Mike Jones being out, that would have been one guy that probably would have been playing quite a bit at linebacker. But, you know, if we need to as far as shuffling the depth chart, what have you, but it's not because guys aren't trying. It's just our production, our play is not always at the level we want. So we'll see what happens this week in practice.

QUESTION: Do you think Denard was affected by (the hype)… not in terms of getting cocky or anything, but just that it's difficult to live up to how fast it's come up on him?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't think it's anything to do with that. I don't see any change at all in his personality. But I think whether or not because he's such a competitive guy, and sometimes you get in a situation where you press, and you maybe want to try to do too much instead of letting the game come to you. I see that happen with a lot of players, especially a lot of guys that are used to making a lot of plays. Sometimes they press and want to make it all happen right then. I don't know if that was the case or not. But, again, I've said this before or even before this past weekend, that this is his first year as a starter. He's five, now six games into being a starter. In all reality, he should be a red shirt freshman, but he had to play some last year, so we're not going to panic. He's very conscientious, and he'll work on getting corrected, and he's still going to make mistakes. He's made tremendous strides from a year ago, but what excites us is how good he's going to be in the next couple years as well.

QUESTION: Did you have a gauge on how he reacted to that loss in terms of leadership afterwards?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think typically when you're a younger guy, and he's a younger guy, even though you're at that quarterback position, you'll take some leadership maybe with your unit, but maybe not try to take as much with the team. But I think Denard feels good enough that he can take some leadership with the team, because I think the guys will follow him. I saw a little bit of that. You know, I'm not overly concerned with guys taking charge in the locker room and all that, because we have a good senior class, even though it's a small senior class. Overall as a group, I think they understand. But now, if the effort and the focus is not there, I think that's when you really need to take charge. If the execution is not there, but the other two things are, then it's just a matter of getting better with the details and playing better on Saturday.

QUESTION: Did Michigan State do different things to Denard that confused him or anything?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No. Not that I've seen or that we saw on film, not when talking to Denard coming off the field. Again, it's one of those things where as soon as it happened, he knows what the mistake was. But it wasn't just Denard's execution at times, it was, as I said, we dropped more passes in that game than we had the whole season. It was just a bad day to do it.

QUESTION: What about their offense overall? You mentioned Michigan State didn't do anything special with Denard. But overall did they do something different against your whole offense? Do you expect Iowa to maybe take a page out of that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Michigan State's defense?

QUESTION: Yeah.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, they've got good players. They played well. They moved their front some, and they brought their safeties down. I thought they tackled pretty well, broke on the ball well. But Iowa is one of the best defenses in the country. I think you all know that. You can look at the stats, and they've got a very veteran group, and playing at an extremely high level and have had two weeks to get ready for it. So we're going to get a great defense, with great players that play very sound. And they're going to do what they do, and see if we can do enough to move the ball against them.

QUESTION: In the past you've talked about not wanting to play freshmen until they're ready to see the field. In a different situation would you see Cullen Christian, Talbott and Courtney Avery red shirt?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No question. Most coaches will tell you, the true freshman that play at true freshmen are so talented that you have to get them on the field some way or they're talented enough that you've got to play them because of your numbers or your depth is where it is. That's where we're at. They're talented enough to play, but they're playing in positions that not many true freshmen play to the extent that they're playing, that's just where we're at. It bodes well because they're getting experience. But you'd rather not have them cut their teeth this early. But at the same time, they're out there, so we've got to get them ready, coached up, and have a chance to have some success. And they've done some good things. That's the thing. I think they're growing up, even though there are some growing pains with that. I think it's exciting to see what they're going to keep doing. But to play this many true freshmen on defense at this level, it doesn't happen very often.

QUESTION: It's easy to support a coach after a win. After a tough loss like that, who reaches out to you or who did after that game? Not that you're looking for sympathy, necessarily. But who does for you?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: The same people who have the last three years here, and the last 25 years in my coaching or 26 years.

QUESTION: Like who?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Your family, coaches, the people that are close to the program. I've got great support here. I thought the crowd was terrific. The support was unbelievable. I've got great support here at the university, you know. Dave Brandon, Mary Sue Coleman have been very, very supportive, the alumni, the former players, they all do. Everybody wants the same thing here. Whether we lost to Michigan State, what do you want, to take me and hang me off the building now? There might be a few people that want to do that, but it's the same people that probably wanted to do that after the first five games, too. They just weren't saying it publicly. Everybody's disappointed when you lose; nobody more so than our players and our coaches. I mean, we take the losses harder than anybody, trust me on that. But you can't dwell on it past 24 hours where it will affect your next game. So you've just got to learn from it. You've got to learn from it and make it hurt enough so that you do learn from it, and try to correct the mistakes you can correct. Some of the issues we've had, I've told you all year that some of the issues that we have aren't going to be solved overnight. We've just got to minimize them the best we can so we can still win ballgames.

QUESTION: (Indiscernible) scored touchdowns the last two games. Have they done something recently to gain a little more confidence and get a little more involved in the passing game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, everybody says throw it to the tight end, so I thought I'd listen to everybody for a change. We've got two really good tight ends in Webb and Koger. They're experienced guys. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We actually throw to them quite a bit in the normal scheme of things. But I've been pleased the way they've been blocking for the most part. We challenged them a little bit. But their toughest challenge, without question, comes this week. And everybody knows about Clayburn and Iowa's defensive front, so they're going to get challenged quite a bit. So I'm anxious to see how Martell and Kevin do this weekend.

QUESTION: You said last week that, but looking at the film, did Jones do anything?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he's a good player. He made some plays. I thought their linebackers tackled well. They did a nice job of getting off blocks. Denard had some success at times as well, but they're a good football team. And Gregg's an outstanding player. He's a veteran guy. He's not a guy that gets fooled very easily. He knows what they're doing, what you would expect as a senior and four-year starter and he makes plays within the framework of the defense. He's a really, really good player.

QUESTION: Looking at Iowa, what concerns you on both sides of the ball what they're able to do?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Defense starts there. Their front four is as good as anybody's in the country. I think they have six or seven seniors starting, and another two or three seniors in the back-up role. They know their scheme. They're very good at it. They'll blitz when they have to occasion, and they'll change things up. But they're so good up front that they can get pressure with a four-man front. They can stop the run with their four-man front and playing their base defense against just about anybody. They don't stay blocked. They're a team that, you know, you may put a hat on a hat, but that hat on a hat doesn't stay there very long because they get off blocked. That is been most impressive. Offensively, they're a big, physical team. Stanzi's an explosive guy. They've got really good wide receivers. They're very good, and I think a Top 10 team in the country.

QUESTION: Is Carvin limited still physically or is he still having some trouble figuring it out?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: With Carvin Johnson? Yeah. He's going to be physical. When he got back and play against Indiana, I still don't think he was 100%. He's got a big old bulky knee brace on, and you could see it was hindering him a little bit. I think he'll be better this week. Again he's one of those true freshmen. So you'll still be limit there had from that standpoint. But I'm hoping he'll be able to move around a little bit. I don't know when can he take that brace off. I'm sure he wants to take it off today, but the trainers and doctors will determine that.

QUESTION: You spoke a while back about spending more time with the defense. When you do that, what are the types of things that you're looking to accomplish?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Most head coaches you just stick your nose in there and get a base idea of what we're doing. And then have a question or two. Sometimes about schemes, but sometimes about, okay, we've got to make sure we work on this fundamental or work on this kind of fundamental. Typical stuff. I'm obviously a lot more involved in offense with them on an hourly basis and during practice. But I get heavily involved with special teams and that too, so you can get spread a little too thin. I don't want to diminish my role offensively or special teams-wise. But the defensive coaches know that I'll stick my nose in there a little bit, and I want the defensive players to know that as well. Our defensive coaches will have a plan. They're like everybody else, like I said, we're all a little frustrated that we're not making some progress like we want. But there are moments, and there were moments even in the last game that, hey, we're getting closer to that and we've just got to put it all together.

QUESTION: You've experienced issues, obviously. Are there talent issues that you have to look at and make some adjustments?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We're not as talented as we'd like to be or are going to be. The part of it is in recruiting. You can obviously fix some issues in recruiting in the next couple of years and the spots where we're really thin or maybe not as talented as we'd like to be, also in development. These four, five true freshmen playing quite a bit. The guy's in the secondary, and Carvin Johnson and Jibreel Black, all those guys are playing as true freshmen. But if we do our job of developing those guys, they'll be really good in the next couple of years. And you really haven't had a chance to develop them yet. They've been here since August, so you run right into the middle of two-a-days, and you have some fundamental work the first three weeks and after that you do a little bit during the week. So our development part with them and the development in the weight room, and/or developing in learning the system in college football and everything that goes on with that has been accelerated to this point. But when we get through spring ball and all that, you can really see a difference. So we've got to recruit. We've got to have a couple really good recruiting classes to address our needs, and we think that's going really well. Then we've got to develop the ones we've got.

QUESTION: You say it's going really well; are you talking overall?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, overall recruiting. Yeah, defensively I think I probably mentioned to you all that cover us, that our numbers were really low. It was ridiculously low last year as far as the breakdown in offense, defense, and scholarship-wise. We're closer to getting those numbers right. This recruiting class will help us get those numbers as far as the break down of scholarships, defense, offensively and team wise. We'll get to that end, and that will help us. We'll still be young, but we'll at least have the bodies there. So whatever we have in recruiting, the calendar moves up so quickly, that everybody's starting to make early commitments and all that. But we feel there is another nine, ten, 11 or so spots that we have to recruit with, and we're looking for certain positions where we're really lacking depth or with the type of guys that we need to win championships with.

QUESTION: What can you say in general about how recruiting is going, and comparing it to your first two years here?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's going really well. Again, both coaches will tell you. Ask me three years after they enter school how good that recruiting class was. That is really the true tale of it. Really, the first year in recruiting is really you can get a couple guys. But I think with a month to recruit, you don't really get as many in your first class. Then our second and the last couple years have been kind of drama, negatively-filled type of recruiting areas where I thought at times our coaches did a really good job of bringing some players in, but we fought through a lot of issues. That is just things that happen. It would be nice to have a nice, positive, going forward recruiting year. Not all that negative. There is a lot of negative recruiting that's going on. But we've got a great thing to sell. And you have to fight it and our coaches have done a good job. We've gotten some good guys, but I think our recruiting will continue to get better in the next few years.

QUESTION: How do you combat the negative recruiting?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, there is a tendency for some guys if somebody negatively recruits you, you negatively recruit. But I don't like that. I told my coaches not to do it. I think it backfires in a lot of cases, because I'd rather just sell all the good things we have here as opposed to some negative thing that maybe happened at their institution or with their program. I've never been a believer in negative recruiting. I'm always more concerned with us than what somebody else has got or doing or what have you. Now it's okay to talk schemes. In other words, if they're a drop back, west-coast type of offense, and you're a different spread type offense, you can say this is the offense we run, this is the offense they run. You can do that comparative analysis there. So I think a lot of coaches do that. But I don't think the negative recruit something any more or less than it's ever been. There's always been some out there. Some coaches like to do it and some don't. It's not as bad in our league, in the Big Ten, than it is in some other leagues. But there is still some in our league, and that's fine. We'll just deal with it.

QUESTION: When you talk about the scholarships and breaking down the offense, are you looking for a 50-50 split?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: It's close to that. At 85 your break down is so many for defensive linemen, so many for secondary, so many for linebacker, so many for offensive linemen. And sometimes you waiver off, and if you have a chance to get at your limit offensive line wise, whatever that is, 15, and you have a great offensive lineman you have a chance to get, you may get that number and bump somebody someone else a spot. You don't ever want to turn down a great player. But you have to have some semblance of balance. You have to plan that ahead. It's always a kind of situation that moves quite a bit, so it's never stable, because a guy may transfer, a guy may get hurt, a guy may get a career-ending injury, and it all of a sudden changes the numbers and all that. Sometimes you have a guy that comes in your program and maybe he didn't turn out. He's on scholarship and he didn't turn out to be as good or able to play at the level you want. But he does everything else right. But you're not going to boot him off your team for that reason. So you've got to kind of work through those issues as well.

QUESTION: Do you have pads this week because you know the bye's coming, can you be more physical this week? Can you do anything differently because you know you have a week to rest?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: As far as game planning?

QUESTION: No, in terms of practicing and stuff like that.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, we'll have the same kind of practice. Next week, for us, being a bye week is a week that we'll start to scheme a little bit for the next opponent. But that's a week where we've really got to work on some fundamentals, especially with our young guys. You've got to do it during game weeks, too. We can't just go into practice and not have some semblance of teaching how to tackle and getting off blocks and all that. But this week it will be a normal week as far as game preparation. Then next week we'll catch our breath a little bit, and we'll have a couple of physical practices. But we've got to do a lot of work fundamentally with our freshmen.

QUESTION: Recruiting is for the future, and you talk about minimizing right now. How do you go about minimizing the issues? You say you can't solve them overnight.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, as far as playing with the freshmen and some of those young guys. Well, we've gotten to the point where we've simplified our schemes as best we can. But that being said, you can use all these coaches and watch this film, and they've got veteran teams. If you're too simple, they'll find a way to go against you. So you've got to be able to slowly add to your package and change things up, so they don't always know where you're at. In this day and age, with the technology and everything there is, if you just lineup in one defense and that's who we are, come get us, most teams will find some kind of way to move the ball. Unless you're Iowa, and even Iowa will change things up. Iowa lineup, they lineup in a base deep, but they'll move their front a little bit, and they'll do some stunts and do some different things. They're extremely talented. So we don't want to limit ourselves to not give us a chance to win defensively, but we've got to balance that between not confusing our young guys as well.

Podium Comments

Question: How about the team's resolve after a loss; what do you expect from them coming into this week?
Coach Rodriguez: "Because our focus has been so good, I would be surprised if starting today that our guys aren't committed…okay let us fix our mistakes and learn from what happened this past weekend and move on because we have a great challenge this weekend and along with that great challenge is a great opportunity. It is a home game and we'll have another terrific crowd. You have to be resilient. Sometimes when you're younger…it seems kind of strange, the younger guys bounce back quicker. The older guys are more like oh gosh. I don't sense our upper classman hanging their heads too long because they know we got work to do."

Question: After a loss like that, do you sense any n
ew leaders and who have they been? I know it has only been a couple of days.
Coach Rodriguez: "No I don't think so. That's probably been established, the leadership of the team and everybody wants to know who is going to grab somebody and be the rah-rah guy and all that. I'm not too much worried about that. I'm worried about them fixing what we need to fix and executing better and go about doing their business. The screaming and the yelling and hey let us get it going guys. I don't know if that is the answer to your problems. You just got to execute better."

Question: Is there anything from your game there last year that you can learn from or is that kind of too far in the past?
Coach Rodriguez: "No we'll watch the film. They've got the same staff doing the same things and they'll make…you always got to prepare going into game to except to do something a little differently, especially if you run a different type of offense or defense, somebody may come in with a different kind of plan, you got to be able to adjust both offensively and defensively to that. We'll watch that and again, they've had two weeks to prepare, so I'm sure they've gone back to last year's film and got a head start on us. We're going to get a great plan. We've got to be able to be patient and I think if you've had a lot of success, especially offensively and you maybe don't score on your first couple of drives, you can press a little bit and not be patient and I think that is something that we've got to work from this past weekend."

Question: The first four weeks, there was only one drive in the red zone where you didn't get points out of it and the last couple of weeks you've had three turnovers down there, what can you do refocus and be more efficient in the red zone?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah the one Indiana game that was probably just the fumbled snap. That should never happen. Again this one, we had the two interceptions, it is just making better decisions and taking care of the ball. We've been really good about that all year and one of the reasons we lost is because we didn't take care of the ball Saturday, but it wasn't the only reason. I feel good about having our red zone plan. It is just when you go down there and the field is constricted a little bit, I guess you got to be more decisive in your execution and not try to force things."

Question: After Denard throws those interceptions, did you pull him aside and maybe help him refocus after those mistakes?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. We was talking about, first off what was he seeing and then reminding him what else is there on the play, but he is pretty conscientious, he'll learn. We do the same thing even if he has a successful play. Maybe his eyes weren't right. We're constantly coaching him up. As soon as he goes off the field, just like any other player, as soon as he goes off, he is getting on a headset and talking with Coach Smith in the box after every series. So it is no different."

Question: You guys have been averaging over 300 yards rushing, what do you attribute the lack of ground game success to Saturday too?
Coach Rodriguez: "We didn't execute as well. They had something to do with that and we had something to do with that as well. We just didn't execute as well. I don't even know how many yards we had rushing. We started off the game moving the football better and then we got behind a little bit, so when we got behind a little bit, we threw the ball some more, but we just didn't play as well."

Question: Was Mike Shaw still limited physically in that game?
Coach Rodriguez: "A little bit. I don't know how much so. He didn't get as many reps during the week in practice and all that. I think he should be 100% this week."

Question: Can you assess your kick returner? Daryl Stonum wasn't out there at the end of the game correct?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. Daryl was…and the only reason for that was that during the week he had strained his hamstring just a little bit and he was fine, but I didn't know if he had that full burst that we wanted to have. So we put Jeremy Gallon out there. I thought he did a pretty nice job. We're still not being consistent enough in our blocking on our return units, especially the kickoff return. We've got to do a better job of field position on our special teams, both in our punt and our kickoff units. Hopefully we'll get better at that."

Question: Do you want to mix it up a little bit more with the running backs? I think you mentioned you wanted to use (Stephen) Hopkins more.
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah we played him a little bit, but we probably need to play him more. The only reason why he isn't in there…he is a bigger back, but he is a true freshman. He enrolled early, but he is still a true freshman that is getting better every week and I think we're getting more and more confident, hey we can put him in there on every down situation instead of just certain plays."

Question: How have (Mark) Moundros and (Kenny) Demens been practicing for you?
Coach Rodriguez: "Pretty good. I think both of those guys are probably guys that we're going to take a look at a little more at linebacker and see. They have both been pretty consistent. They've been really good on special teams. We've tried…we didn't do a lot of rotation at linebacker and I've talked to Coach Robinson about that. We'll see what we do going forward with the other guys."

Question: Does the pressure of Iowa in the front four, do you have to be in the backfield a little less patient because those holes can closer even quicker because of their defense?
Coach Rodriguez: "No question. If you get these guys blocked, you're not going to keep them blocked for long. There are not a lot of people that have success on kind of delayed things with them because they are so good at getting off blocks and not just their front four but their linebackers as well. If there is a hole or crease, you'd better hit it quick."

Question: What is Fitz Toussaint's availability?
Coach Rodriguez: "He is better but unfortunately, it does not look today he is going to be able to play this week. With an open week, we are optimistic that he can come back after that. This week, he looks like he is still out."

Question: What did he do to his (Fitz Toussaint) shoulder?
Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. It is a rotator cuff type of injury. I don't know exactly…there is nothing that needs surgery but it just needs time to heal."

Question: Mike Shaw is pretty close to 100%?
Coach Rodriguez: "Should be, yeah."

Question: Is it the same shoulder for Toussaint that he hurt last year?
Coach Rodriguez: "I'm not sure. I'm not exactly sure when it happened. I don't know if he fell on it fully, because he was only in for a couple of plays or what have you. I saw him earlier this morning and he feels better with it, but I don't think he would be ready to go this week."

Question: Do you get concerned with a guy like that just never seems to stay healthy that it could be maybe as much mental as anything else?
Coach Rodriguez: "I don't think it is mental at all. I think it is just bad luck. It is like Brandon Minor as you all know. Brandon Minor may be the unluckiest guy that we've had the last couple of years. Brandon would play so hard and so physical and got banged up and he just had bad luck. Probably every team has one or two guys that have just that kind of bad luck. So Fitz has had some tough luck in his first year and a half or so. He'll be fine."

Question: Iowa likes to run the ball downhill a lot and use their big offensive line, might we see some more four-man fronts from you trying to keep your linebackers free to make plays?
Coach Rodriguez: "We've got the ability to do that. We've done that in every game with some four man front stuff. Whether you run a three-man front or four-man front, if they put everybody in there, we put more people in there and you still got to get off blocks. I think the key for us is even last weekend, we seemed to do okay on a couple of plays and then we let them bust a long play for us. The other thing we got to get away from, those long plays and looking back at them, it may have just been one guy here or one guy there that didn't quite fit or didn't get off the block or misread it or something and those are the things that you got to fix in a hurry."


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