Rich Rod Presser Transcript (Week 8)

Rich Rodriguez met with the media today to recap his team's 38-28 loss to Iowa and look ahead to the bye week. Michigan's headman updated the injury status of numerous players including Denard Robinson and Mike Martin, discussed the necessary improvements for his defense, and more.

QUESTION: Updates on the injured guys?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I haven't seen the trainers or the kids today, yet, but yesterday Mike Martin and David Molk should be better with a week off and hopefully they be should be 100% for Penn State. Denard's shoulder was still a little sore, but again with another week off -- it was sore last week, until with another week of rest, and he'll do some things next week in practice. We are not practicing today or tomorrow. He should be fine by next week.

COACH RODRIGUEZ: Mike is fine. He's still a little bit sorry think with his knee, but again, this week has probably come at a good time for some of those guys like that like Mike.

QUESTION: What was Shaw's injury specifically?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He sprained his knee a little bit. So he was able to play Saturday, but you know, he was a little limited last week in practice.

QUESTION: Is it Denard's throwing shoulder?

QUESTION: Makes it more problematic I imagine.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He was limited last week throwing in practice but he felt good throwing later in the week and he felt good in warmups. I think he aggravated it when he landed on it whenever that was, first half.

QUESTION: Are you going to have him practice at all this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he'll practice.

QUESTION: What is the schedule?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: They won't practice today or tomorrow. They will practice Tuesday -- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, for sure.

QUESTION: Can you talk about focusing on fundamentals during the off-weeks? Is that still a focus?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, a big part of the focus during practice is, particularly with the young guys now, just to try to get them a little better fundamentally in certain drills and things that we can do with them. And then we'll do a preliminary thing on Penn State, as well, try to get a little bit of the game plan in.  The coaches are on the road recruiting today and tomorrow, and so we are not doing anything with the coaching staff, but we will get into Penn State before the week is over for sure.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how it's a good time for the banged up guys for the whole team; is it a good mental break?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think so. Seven weeks -- not just seven weeks of the season. It's four weeks of camp before then so you're talking about 11 weeks of going at it pretty good. With the academics and all that, it probably comes at a great time. They have no school today or tomorrow, so they get a little bit of a break to refresh a little bit, especially the younger guys.
The 12 or 13 true freshmen that are playing, I'm sure you always worry about them hitting that so-called ball, so hopefully this week will be a little bit of a break, and the weekend away from the game will be a little bit of a break and be refreshed up a little bit next week.

QUESTION: Aside from the injuries, getting them healed up, what would be the biggest things that you would like to get corrected before Penn State?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, execution issues, certainly offensively, we had a couple turnovers and we didn't execute them. And some of -- Iowa had something to do with that. They are pretty good on defense. And then on defensively, certainly, the same thing, the same issues of execution and making sure that -- and then our special teams, obviously we haven't kicked the ball well and our coverage units have been solid but our return units have not been good. So we have got to do some fundamental work on our return units, both kickoff return and punt return to get those a little bit better, because as I told the team, we have got a couple guys that they can be pretty good returners, we are now just giving them much of a chance.

QUESTION: When the kick was blocked and they started to return, it seemed like some of the guys did not react as quickly?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, a lot of guys didn't. Their guys didn't and our guys didn't. We didn't do a good job as coaches. We talk to our defense all the time about, if you block it and it's on their side of the line of scrimmage, you want to scoop and score. If it's on our side, get away from it. But we didn't do apparently a good enough job talking with our field goal unit on that same issue, because normally, kick it and it's on their side, they will get away from it because it becomes a live ball if they touch it. And we had guys just standing around, I don't know if they were not aware but the whistle is not going to blow until somebody puts their hands on the ball and official deems it's a dead play. We learned our lesson on that but it was not a good play for us. We didn't get the ball up high enough and there was a little bit of a breakdown in the protection, too.

QUESTION: That ball probably would not have made it anyway. It was pretty low.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I couldn't really tell on film, but there wasn't a lot of penetration. There was too much -- any penetration is too much, but there was a little bit but the kick was a little low, too.

QUESTION: Are you going to use a scholarship on a kicker?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah, if we think we can find something that can help us right away.

QUESTION: Are there guys available?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We cannot talk specifically about recruiting but we are looking all over the country.

QUESTION: Way back when when you created this offense, or your scheme, how did it -- when did it come about that you had your quarterback as a running threat, too?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: It's kind of evolved to that. You know, the first stages -- gosh, we are going back, let's see, what's 1990, 20 years? Going back 20 years, it was pass-heavy. It was probably 75 percent pass back then. And then it started to evolve a little bit more in the run deal when Shaun King at Tulane, Shaun would tell you he's 4-6 or 4-5, he was 4-7 or 4-8. He was a threat. Woody dancer was probably the first one we had at Clemson, we had some design quarterback runs, true runs come out of that.  So it probably started when I was at Clemson doing more of that, and then with the West Virginia, we had Rasheed Marshall. A lot of people forget about him. He was really good. And of course, Pat White. So probably the running threat of the quarterback and design quarterback runs probably started predominately more with Woody dancer back in the late 90s.

QUESTION: Do you notice in today's college football how many teams have their quarterback running much more?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, and then you have not only that, but you have I guess a lot of the so-called wildcat package, which is really a quarterback or a guy taking a snap that's a running threat. So that wildcat, I guess an off-shoot or similar kind of thing as spread to some of the stuff that we are doing.  A little difference for us is that we are not putting a receiver or running back back. We are putting a guy back there that we think can throw it around, too.

QUESTION: What's biggest difference you see in how defenses prepare for Denard compared to how they prepared for Dantzler?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, it was probably more fun back then because not a lot of people were doing it, so it was really unique. Now there are so many other people that do it or do some version of it, maybe just a wildcat or something. So there's a lot more creatively I guess defensively than we saw they did ten years ago. Y'all have been covering football quite a bit, you see more variety of offenses now than you ever have, the whole gamut from a power set, West Coast spread, whatever. I've always said one spread is not like another spread, there's always kinds of spreads. But you're also seeing the same things defensively. Very few people run just a 4-3 defense or just a 3-4 defense or a 3-3-5. Everybody runs a variety of things and I think that's because of teams going from not just one or two formations but ten or 12 to 15 different formations. That's the biggest change in college football today, is that the variety of formations and things that you see offensively. And it's harder to be a defensive coach now than it's ever been, for sure.

QUESTION: How much do you feel like your formations change, from 1990 when you first started?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We are a little bit more multiple. We are probably simpler formationally than a lot of teams. We like to expand with that. But you know, sometimes we don't want -- we like to play fast and we don't want to confuse ourselves some. But it is -- for us, the formation that we have changed a little bit. But scheme-wise, the base is probably still the same but every year we try to find something, and usually there's no patents on schemes. Usually we get an idea, or a creative idea from watching somebody else. You watch somebody else's film or watching something on TV and you think, well, that may fit into what we are wanting to do.  Just in the last four or five years, it's kind of evolved into some different things. Pretty neat ideas.

QUESTION: In the past you've had other colleges come and visit with you.  Have you gone and visited with other guys?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we spent -- there's a few stats, the coaching staff has been close to, typical spread teams. Oklahoma is one that they visited us, we visited them, the folks at Oregon, and quite a few other spread teams.
Oh, I don't know, maybe five or six years ago, we had a whole bunch of people visit us when I was at West Virginia, probably too many. What I told the coaches, I said, heck, the deal is, they come and we'll talk to them a little bit about what we are doing as long as they talk to us about what they are doing.  So we have a whole lot of ideas about a whole lot of other folks that are doing some stuff. Butch Jones, of course, at Cincinnati is a close friend who is on our staff and his staff does some creative things. There's a lot, but you never give away everything, but usually if you're a coach and you watch enough film, you can get an idea what they are doing just by watching the film.

QUESTION: You made some personnel moves on defense the other day. How did you feel those turned out and the progress?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, Kenny Demens I thought played pretty well. We started him at Mike, tried to give us a little lift there, and thought he played pretty well.  Carvin Johnson did some good things. We were not as challenged as much as his position, he played spur, he played most of the game I think at that position.  Of course Mike got hurt, Martin, so Adam Patterson played I think three quarters in those and did pretty well. And then we'll look -- the coaches get back tomorrow night and Wednesday we'll look and see if there's anything else particularly we need to do, whether it's to help the defense out/  it's not as easy as people think to just move someone over there and okay get him ready to play.  It would be if we were healthier.

QUESTION: Moving from offense?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Moving somebody from offense or what have you.

QUESTION: Would you say the majority of the turnovers from the last two weeks were not forced, and if that's the case, what do you do to move back towards what you were doing earlier in the year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think we pressed a little bit at quarterback some. I think sometimes just trying to make it happen instead of just letting the game get to him. Sometimes you think it's third-and-long and you have to throw it 30 yards and sometimes you don't have to throw 30 yards at third-and-long. Sometimes you can just throw it ten yards and get ten yards.  It was disappointing, but I think they know it right after it happens, too. We have got to eliminate the turnovers. The fumble, Vince is not a fumbler and he is that disappointing because we are on the 15 going in and trying to get momentum there. We have been really good taking care of the ball when we were winning and the one reason we lost is because we didn't do a good job of taking care of the ball.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that Devin is now the starter?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He's played well not that I know of that OB will have to beat him out in practice in the next week and a half. But OB went in there and did some decent things. But that competition will be ongoing for sure.

QUESTION: Can you talk about problems you have that can't be fixed overnight; what did you think can get fixed in the next two weeks and the rest of the season?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, I would think we would get better fundamentally, whether it's reacting on the ball, breaking on the ball, tackling, getting off blocks. Some of the things that we'll really work hard on this week, we should get a little better with, and understanding the scheme. When you understand the scheme completely, you can play a little faster, and you can recognize things a little bit quicker, and I would think as the season goes along they should get better at that.

QUESTION: We have not talked to Greg really at all but has he gone through anything? Is he drawing on anything from the past to try to make this work?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think they really all are. I think all of our defensive staff, and I've been down there a little bit with them of course and we have talked, but I think all of the defensive staff has said, okay, what do we got to do, because we all know the issues we have and trying to fix it, and so I think they have talked about it at length. I know they have. Because I've talked at length with them. Ands it's frustrating, certainly. But at the same time, I trust those guys are working extremely hard, and the players still believe in what we are doing.  They are hanging in there. And there's moments where we are really close, even in the last game where we are close to playing really good defense and then it's just one or two plays. But those one or two plays count. You've got to eliminate those one or two bad ones.

QUESTION: Are they pressing? Have they been down in these two games and do you feel there's a change in the sideline or the huddle?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I told you, I don't look behind me or the sidelines too much. Unless we are coaching someone up or looking for a guy, I don't kind of turn around and see the mood of the team or anything like that.  Our guys, they are still trying hard. It's not like there's a lack of effort, and the focus is still there. I think at time you do press too much, especially if you're a younger guy or overly competitive and thinking, I've got to make it happen right now, instead just concentrating on your fundamentals and execution and let the game come to them.  I think that's a natural thing, whether it's a quarterback or another position, you press too much. And I don't think there's such a thing as trying too hard, but maybe you can press too hard in the course of a ballgame, and young guys sometimes don't see that happening.

QUESTION: Do you feel like it happens when you (get behind) in the game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Could be that. I didn't sense that in the locker room when we were down or anything like that. But again, I think it's a lesson learned that there's a lot -- even in the last game, there's a lot of football left, and as poorly as we played in spots, we are still in the fourth quarter when we had a chance to get tied if we could get a stop and get the ball back. The crowd was into the game. They were terrific in the fourth quarter. We didn't make it happen.

QUESTION: With all of the issues you've had on the defensive side of the ball, have you ever thought about maybe taking over more of the defense?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I've been asked that before, but I had not been involved -- if I'm not so heavily involved in offense and on the special teams part of it, I think you could spend more. But if I still aspired to call plays and be involved in the offensive planning and then special teams planning, you know, there's only so much hours in the day. But I want to know -- I certainly want to know what we are doing defensively, and always have some input, but those guys spend a lot more time watching that film and studying that and got expertise. And I can give them two cents worth and -- hope it's worth more than that it.  Vince Lombardi could come, too, and not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense.  We've got to do what we've got to do, and our coaches will work hard at it this week. This will be a good week for us to go, okay, what are we good at? That will be the question I've already asked them; what are we good at. Offense, defense, special teams, what do we really need to improve upon and what can we get fixed right now that's broke or is cracked a little bit?  Then we'll do the best we can to do that.

QUESTION: How did Rocko Khoury grade out on film?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He competed pretty well. He really did. He come in there against some pretty good players, early. But Rocko took a lot of snaps during the week because David was banged up but I was really proud of the way he battled. There were times he got beat but there were other times he did quite well and I was proud of him. We were worried about his snaps some because he had a lot of pressure with guys right on top of him. There were one or two that were a little bit off, but I thought he did a pretty good job.

QUESTION: It looked like Taylor (Lewan) was trying to judge the snap?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He was a little jumpy. He was so jacked because we were challenging him, going cleanse Clayborn, first team All-American, high draft choice and Taylor being competitive, I think he was a little jumpy at it. I don't know, maybe -- all of your centers should all snap it at the same rhythm, but inevitably it's not always the same because David may be a little bit different than Rocco. But it was that way in practice, so we shouldn't have any issues with that in the game.

QUESTION: What the nature of Denard's injury, bruise or slight sprain?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's more of a sprain, I don't know, something in his rotator cuff kind of a sprain, that when you fall on it, it's aggravated or sore. Usually, you all probably notice it, a lot of quarterbacks, it's not so much a lot of times it's the head, sometimes you fall and it's somebody falling on top of them. I think looking at the film, when he got hit, but when somebody landed on top of him. You see that in the pocket all the time, drop back guys and they get these big 300-pounders that they get their shoulder pinned and they fall on it and that's why I say I always work about the big guys falling on them. I don't worry about the little guys hitting them down the field.

QUESTION: Do you feel like it's not as severe as Tate's last year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know how severe Tate's was. I know Tate had a hard time just a couple days after the game, a hard time even lifting his arm up, and Denard is not at that point.

QUESTION: You don't have a game Saturday, but if you did, would Denard be okay?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Hypothetically, we won't talk -- (Laughter). I haven't seen him today. I think if we had a game, he could probably play Saturday.

QUESTION: This bye week does come at a good time.?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: In a lot of ways. In a lot of ways for that; for the players to get a break but also for the coaches, too, to sit back and look at our guys and making sure that we are doing the right things with them.

QUESTION: With what happened with the defensive tackle at Rutgers… Is that your worst nightmare?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No question. It really is. I'm trying to think if I've ever had a spinal type of injury. I had a young man that had a spine all injury and a car accident, but not on the field. But I remember I had a young man in my first head coaching job at Salem that had a compound fracture of his lower leg in a ballgame, and you know, you run right out there and it was as ugly as you could see. You sully had to turn, make sure he didn't look at it, his injury. You worry about it, just like any parent would worry about your kids getting hurt. I had not seen the clips, I don't even know if they even have that on the young man for Rutgers. But that certainly is something that's an inherent risk and not just in our sport but a lot of sports and you all worry about it.

QUESTION: Is there anything that you can do to protect that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No. I think that the rules are in place for the most part, particularly with him but they are cracking down, with the helmet to helmet contacts and the launching collisions that we are trying to get rid of. But there are -- sometime it's just a little fraction of an inch that contact makes that can cause that injury. If it happens just at the wrong moment, something like that, terrible can happen.

QUESTION: You mentioned Vince Lombardi couldn't help the defense…
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know, maybe he could. (Laughter).

QUESTION: Is that what you --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: On some of the issues, I should clear that up… on some of the issues that we had defensively, as I said to you all, the only way to get experience is to get experience. So you cannot -- you'd like to accelerate the time clock and say, okay, this first year or second-year player is going to play like a veteran right now. Some have the ability to do that, there's no question. And then as a coach, you try to foster that or develop that as quickly as you can. But there are going to be freshmen that have freshmen moments, and you know, you just got to try to limit that. That's what we have to do. That's the part that comes back to us as coaches, is how can we limit those dangerous freshmen potential moments, if that makes sense to you. And then try to come up with that kind of plan. And I know the coaches already have that in mind. Like, you know, trying to limit, so the simplicity part of it, what they recognize, the calls, the communication from other guys here, but when you have young guy communicating to another young guy, you know, sometimes that doesn't get translated the way it needs to be.

QUESTION: You said Denard is your starter, but are you pleased with the spark that Tate was able to bring?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I thought he came in with good energy and Tate is not one that gets nervous. There were some things that he wants to have back and some bad habits reared its ugly head at times. But he went in and competed and made plays. He understands our offense pretty well. And I thought our receivers, Junior Hemingway has been really consistent and Darryl Stonum did some nice things. I thought they helped as well. It's good. Like I said, we have three pretty good quarterbacks, and the nice part about it is they are all young guys.

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