QUESTION: Can you update us on Denard and his situation?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Just this morning, whatever tests he went through yesterday were all good. So he should be fine. No issues.
QUESTION: Did he have a concussion?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know what it was. He was -- I guess he had symptoms. Would probably be a better way of putting it. He had signs or symptoms of not being completely there. A little dizzy. A little headache. Certainly for precautionary reasons the trainers wanted to hold him out. And I don't ever get in the middle of that stuff. They're the professionals in that regard so they say someone's out they're out we put the next guy in.
QUESTION: You expect him to be (in practice)?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He'll do everything.
QUESTION: You expect him to practice today and play on Saturday?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yes, do everything today and be good to go.
QUESTION: What are the steps that you take when someone has concussive symptoms like there? Is there a protocol you have?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I leave it up to the trainers and doctors. They tell us what's going on and they have a series of tests they do. And again to grade it, to see what level it's at, I couldn't tell you where it was. All I know is they said he had some dizziness and a headache and they wanted to hold him.
So I said okay, next guy.
QUESTION: You went back and looked at film. Was it that play that --
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know. It wasn't anything in the last four or five plays he was in. So that's what was surprising to us, because he didn't get hit on the last few plays. So that may have been it. And I don't think Denard remembers which one. But I could see that was the only hit that I saw that possibly could have caused some issues there.
QUESTION: Did he come to you and say (that he was having concussion symptoms)?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: The trainers did. Yeah, normally after the series, unless I'm doing something else, I'll go back and maybe say something to the quarterbacks, receivers and see all that. But in this case I was doing something else. And it was like normally we get a pretty good heads up on it.
But this one it was just a couple minutes before we were ready to go out. They said Denard's having some issues and the trainers are holding him so we have to get Tate in.
QUESTION: The issue with Danny Hope last year, did you talk to him since then?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We've talked a little bit in the conference meetings, but other than that we haven't talked about or done anything. It's in the past. Not worried about it.
QUESTION: Aside from the offense itself, what makes Roy Roundtree so effective?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Roy's got a really neat feel for the game. I think one of his best attributes, very good athlete. Good ball skills. He can run.
He's getting bigger. I don't know what his weight is listed but he was about 150 when he got here. Some skilled players, whiteouts, have a certain feel for the game as far as finding an opening in a zone coverage or being able to separate versus man. And Roy's got kind of a natural feel for that. That's some of the same things we saw in high school. He was well coached in high school. But he caught a whole bunch of passes in high school. And a lot of them are very similar to what he's doing here. He would find a crease, get open and make the catch.
QUESTION: I know people will look at the 65 that your defense gave up, but you had a couple of third down stops. Obviously the two-point conversion stop as well. Does that sort of thing help a defense in the future? Also going against a Purdue team that obviously doesn't score a lot of points.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Particularly in light of some of the inexperience we were playing, true freshmen making starts in the secondary and there were times when there were four freshmen, three true freshmen in the secondary for us. You know better than I do, but look around Division I, is there anywhere else that that's happening? So it's pretty rare. And I thought they competed. We gave up some plays. And it was disappointing for them to get a couple of the Will routes and things like that on us. But we did have a few three and outs, five or six stops, and offense really put our defense in some bad situations with some turnovers. We had some turnovers that I thought our defense responded well.There are some things we can grow from and get better at. But we still have to play at a higher level. But I was really nervous going into this game because of the talent that Illinois had on both sides of the ball. And I thought our kids hung in there and battled with them.
QUESTION: Seemed like their kickoff return was the other thing that put the defense back. Did you see something particularly on this game unfold?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Again, it's the same thing with athleticism. You worry about the matchups athleticism-wise in our offense and defense but you also have to worry about them on special teams. We didn't kick the ball as well. I think Will did okay, it wasn't his best day on kickoffs. We had been pretty solid all year with kicks, but we let a couple get out there on Saturday.
What concerns you the most, the lost or the gained and how do you attack either one of those numbers?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Both, really. We had been pretty good most of the year from the offensive standpoint and special teams not turning the ball over.
This past game wasn't good. But the other part has been really disappointing, and I don't want to say totally unexpected. I don't know where we're at in the country turnovers gained, but we're way down near the bottom. We're getting our hands on the ball a couple times but we're not quite creating turnovers. And we talked about that a lot with the defensive staff. We're not in a position to make plays or we're not causing enough confusion. I don't know. But that's a stat that's really hurt us. And it seems like our offense has to go a long way a lot of times, whether that's because of no turnovers gained or not getting much on the return yardage.
So it's certainly an issue we've tried to address. But I don't know any simple answer to it.
QUESTION: You've talked about how this program will be where you want it to be when you have multiple players at each position that can play. Would you say quarterback is definitely that position where Tate, with his experience and ability, you know, helped you score another, what, 22 points?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No question, and you covering us have probably heard me say it a bunch of times. When there's not much of a drop-off or difference between ones and twos and maybe even threes, certain positions that you know you're going to be a pretty good football team because you can handle a few injuries, which everybody's going to have throughout the course of a season. We're there at some positions this year, but most positions we're not. Quarterback is one we're at. Running back to some degree we're at. And I think on the offensive line, for the first time since I've been here, we're at to some degree. But nowhere on defense are we there. But I think in the next year we're certainly going to be a whole lot better in that regard. If we do our job in recruiting and do our job in developing, going forward, we won't have as many true freshmen as we're playing right now.
QUESTION: The running back situation, how is Teric Jones?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Teric, unfortunately on that kickoff return, tore his ACL. And he will be out for the season.
QUESTION: Other injuries? Mike Martin?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Mike Martin is better. Jonas Mouton has a little issue with a chest muscle, I believe. So he'll probably be limited. Certainly today we don't hit. He may not be actively involved in the hitting practice tomorrow. I don't think we lost anybody else in the game. Teric was, unfortunately, we lost him on a kickoff return.
QUESTION: Fitzgerald Toussaint?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I'll see today and in particular more tomorrow when we have pads on tomorrow if he can go. I hope so because he gave us a little boost there at that position.
QUESTION: Could you talk about Purdue, what you'll point out to your guys to make them respect Purdue, not that I'm sure you guys are cocky at this point?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I don't think that's going to be an issue with our guys. Plus the fact that they beat us the last couple of years. And they've got some very good players. Particularly defensively. Kerrigan is an All-American. Both their ends are very good, very athletic and active on defense. They've had injuries on quarterbacks. I don't know if Henry is going to be back for us or not. But they have some fast skilled kids on their perimeter. And they play extremely hard, especially at home. So our guys, I want our guys to feel good for a couple of days. They're going through a little grind like they did. I hope they feel good, have a little bounce in their step.But we approach everything the same anyway.
QUESTION: How did you feel Saturday night?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I felt great. No question it was a sense of relief. Not only for the staff and the players but I think in particular for the seniors. I would hope one of the reasons they play is because they love playing football. And the chance to extend their college career one more game, I think, is huge to be around.
I think if you've talked to the players, when they leave that so-called hot oil, their eligibility is up. That's the toughest transition for any college athlete, from the time their eligibility is up and they're done and they're moving on, whether they're moving on in professional football or athletics or moving on in the business world, that bond you have with your team is pretty tight and being able to extend that for another month or whatever it is for a Bowl game, I think, is really important for our seniors.
QUESTION: Young guys on the defense, the extra practices, is that (a huge benefit)?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know. A lot of people make a big deal. I don't know if it's a huge deal, but I do think it is important. In particular, if you have a lot of young players. And a lot of freshmen. The 15 practices in spring help. But having 15 in the winter, I think, especially for the young guys -- and we have a lot of young players that they're going to have to develop and they're going to have to get ready to help us, especially on defense. And so that month of December being able to work and have some practices is going to be invaluable for them.
QUESTION: Do early enrollees, any chance of them extending that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, they did that a few years ago. I know there were some. I've never done it, but I think there were a few schools having early enrollees actually go to the Bowl practices and do that. But I think since then the rule changed and they can't do it, which they shouldn't be able to do it. The Bowl game is for the guys, players who earned it, not the early enrollees.
QUESTION: You talked about 24 hours, win or lose, but as emotional as the aftermath of that game was, is that the kind of thing that can carry you a little through the week of practice?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: A little bit. We'll talk about it today because yesterday was the day off. We'll talk about it today and clean up the issues we had and all that. And then after today we kind of move on. But we always refer back to games and teaching moments. But again, if it helps them have a little enthusiasm, have a little pep in their step, that's good because it does become a little bit of a grind this late in the year. Also for coaches it seems to go pretty fast, too. I think our players are excited. I hope they get a little confidence from it. That's the best thing that a win happens is the confidence it gives. Even if you didn't play particularly well yourself or your group didn't play particularly well, winning gives a lot of the guys a lot more confidence.
QUESTION: How emotional was that locker room afterwards?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We were pretty excited. Everybody was -- I think, again, whether it was a sense of relief, I don't think it was just that, getting the six wins, I think it was the kind of game it was. You know, even when we've had scrimmages and we end our scrimmages back in August with an overtime period and it's offense against defense, I mean, they get really excited about that. And every time we did it they get really excited about it. So I think we go to three overtimes and it's at home. The crowd was into it. I think that the way the game was, I think added to the emotion in the locker room.
QUESTION: How about all they've been through, too?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, the guys have been through a lot. They have been. And that's why I'm so proud of them, the focus they've kept. And again as much as I or we as coaches try to shelter them in Schembeckler Hall from the external drama, so to speak, they may not hear about it. I think they've handled themselves extremely well. I'm proud the way they've handled it. In particular not just the adversity we faced every week, like last week J.T. Floyd going down. For some teams it would be like oh, boy, oh wow is us, here we go again. But our guys were we feel bad for J.T., let's pick it up. They've done a tremendous job with that.
QUESTION: Ray Vinopal wasn't that highly rated. What did you see in him and how do you think these played here in these last two games?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Played pretty well. He's a young guy going to make young guy mistakes. Came from a great high school program. Used to winning a lot of games in Youngstown. And he's a very intelligent guy. Good football player. We liked him from the first moment we saw him. Maybe it was whether size or what have you, but again we make all of our own judgments on our guys. And these recruiting sites do really do a pretty good job for the most part rating. But we don't ever make our judgments based on what a recruiting service rates them. We rate them ourselves.
QUESTION: On winning when you don't play your best game...
COACH RODRIGUEZ: There were certainly moments we didn't play our best. Having five turnovers, some of them were -- you can understand some turnovers happening because they're forced errors. They made a great play or something like that and they did on that. But there were also some unforced errors that we had. So we played pretty well at times. We got a few fortunate bounces at times. But the thing that our guys kept doing they kept competing. Whether we were down or at times we were up or in the overtime. It was from my vantage point there was never any feeling like, hey, we're in trouble here. So that's a sign of growing up. In particular, you look at the young guys. You talk about true freshmen, now most of these guys should be getting red shirted. Most of these freshmen don't play at these positions this early in their career. Now they're out there playing in a triple overtime game in front of 111,000. I mean there's a lot of growing lessons happening. And we're excited they got through it and made some plays and some they didn't.Now we're going to have a whole lot more experience going forward when those other guys get back. That's the neat part about it.
QUESTION: Do you think nationally there have been more injuries this year than prior years, maybe more season-ending injuries?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know. You guys could probably research that. I don't know how far back in years that they kept as close of tabs. Now I guess it's so much more public. I mean, everybody -- that's the first question you all ask and it's the first question that every other coach's press conference has is dealing with injuries. I'm not sure that was always the case in the past. But I think it's more public now. But just like the NFL you're seeing -- these kids are getting, and their kids, they're getting bigger and faster and stronger every year. And that trend is not going backwards, because high school programs and nutrition and lifting weights and all that is getting to lower, lower levels. Kids are coming out of high school, faster, bigger, stronger. The equipment people are doing a tremendous job. As they get bigger and faster and stronger those collisions become more violent. There's much you can do about it. People talk about the surfaces and the knee injuries and all that. I think one of the greatest single inventions in football facility-wise has been the field turf. The rubber infield surface. I think that's probably saved, oh, 25 percent knee injuries, because of that. I can't imagine playing on the old harder turf which we used to have here, and what I used to play on, and all that, how many more injuries we would have if the kids still had to play on those type of surfaces. We're on the safest surface you can possibly have, but you still have the injuries. It's just a tough game.
QUESTION: Talking about injuries, did J.T. (Floyd) have his surgery, and Perry?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Perry, we could have probably used Perry if we got in kind of an emergency situation but he'll be a lot better and we'll see how he works this week in practice but he's a lot better now. And J.T. had his surgery.
QUESTION: How is Troy (Woolfolk) this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Good. He's out of his walking boot. Obviously he's not doing nothing lower body but he's working on upper body. Mike Jones is doing well with his surgery. That was all good. Tay Odoms is fine after his surgery. So all those guys... I don't know what they'll be able to do spring practice-wise, they're on a different schedule. But they're all on track.
QUESTION: You took the NFL approach and release an injury report every week. A lot of coaches act like it's top secret. Why do you take the approach you do, I'm curious?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Because you're all so interested in it. If I try to be vague and you get -- we get worried if you get the source from somewhere else, is it accurate. Same old thing. You may hear this or this. It's the old rumor mill. If you want to find out the truth, ask the right source. The only thing we have to be careful about is we want to make sure the families get notified immediately. We wouldn't want anybody outside the families to know first if there was an injury or a surgery or something that occurred. But the families know immediately. And every young man that we've had had surgery with his mom or dad or both or family members will be able to come up here and be with them when they had surgery. So it's good.
QUESTION: How did Mark Huyge play?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He played pretty well. He competed -- not only can Perry play there, but we wouldn't hesitate at all to put Michael Schofield in there. Michael Schofield can play too. He played a little bit, but he's a redshirt freshman. But he's ready to play as well. Before we weren't nearly as deep as we are right now. And we haven't got Ricky Barnum in as much. But we have no qualms whatsoever about putting Ricky Barnum in there. And Rocko Khoury has played quite a bit. So those guys, and Taylor's obviously playing well at left tackle. We have some good, young players there.
QUESTION: You were pretty empathetic about the athleticism of Illinois last week. And you referenced it to Purdue, is it on par with that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Illinois was probably one of the most athletic teams, or is one of the most athletic teams in the league. We, frankly, have to get more athletic. I mean, some of that comes through development. The freshman, they're pretty good athletes and they'll get -- I don't know if you get more athletic, but you'll get stronger and faster in the weight room when you spend a year with Coach Barwis and his staff. But we have to get faster and more athletic overall as a team and bigger, too.We're still a little bit undersized. And the only way to do that we have to address that in recruiting and first and foremost and then you address it in your development part. And I feel good in both those areas that recruiting is going well and our strength staff I think is the best in the country.
QUESTION: Do you think you match up okay with Purdue that way?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think we match up in certain spots. We have some special players that give us the chance, the quarterback position and I really think, as I said after the game, I think our wide receivers have been playing at their best level since I've been here. And we're pretty athletic up front on the O line, for some big guys up there, we're pretty athletic.Defensively we have some athleticism but not enough. Not enough speed yet. And some of it is due to youth and some due to we've just got to get more players there.
QUESTION: You mentioned on the radio show last week that Denard with his knee, he re-banged it; is that still an issue?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, it was better. He's still going to get some treatment on it, because if he gets just nicked on it a little bit it will bother him some. But his arm felt a whole lot better. And I think we can tell in some of his passes he was a lot crisper with it, taking it down field, and he was running well, too.
So I'm hoping he'll feel as good as he has felt in weeks this weekend.
QUESTION: Why was it so difficult to fix the coverage mistakes on those cross routes to the running back?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: On the Will routes, hit it wide open, I had the same question. But I believe it wasn't the same guy and it was two different defenses. It wasn't the same call, the same guy. So that was my first thought: You've got to be kidding me. Again? To be open is one thing. To be that wide open is another thing. So it was one (where) a guy made a mistake in just completely blew it on one and the other one it was, it was a different defense and the guy had his eyes in the wrong spot. But I would expect we'll probably see a play similar to that in every game coming forward. (Laughter) We'll be working on it quite a bit. The fact is we have a play very similar to that and we work every week against them. Our guys worked against it in practice. So we've got to do it in game time.
QUESTION: I'm sure it's hard to play everybody you would like to play, but seems like Hopkins had some flashes. Do you try to create a way for him to get a rhythm? Seems like he's the kind of guy that could find a rhythm maybe.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it's a little bit more by feel, how we're doing in the backs. Vincent Smith is probably we have the most confidence in doing everything. Even when we're blocking, Vincent has some experience and all that. But Mike Shaw gave us a burst, especially when he's running. He runs really hard. And Stephen is the big guy. I like the rotation that we have with them. And it really depends not just so much on the play but how we're going. And we've played two of them at the same time. We did that a little bit last weekend, too. Actually, if we get a fourth guy, whether it's Fitz or Mike Cox, would have been Teric, we like to have all four of them to roll in or out of there.
Question: Is there any danger that (Jonas Mouton) won't play on Saturday?
Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. He was there this morning for treatment. I said, how do you feel? He said I feel all right, better. I'll not a little bit more tomorrow, probably after today. Today we don't do much, but we'll know a little bit more tomorrow. He finished the game up, so it didn't happen at the end of the game, must have happened sometime during the game."
Question: You made some changes defensively, put Craig Roh on the line and JB Fitzgerald and Obi Ezeh in; can you talk about how they did?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I think Craig, that move putting him at end is probably going to stick. I think he's more comfortable there. I think that is his position he's more natural. He played there last year at 235 and now he is 250, so he can handle it. He'll probably gain another 10 or 15 pounds in the offseason and next year be a 265 pound guy with a great motor. So I think that move is probably going to stay. Craig is athletic enough that we can move him around, but I think playing him at end, especially open side end is a good move for him. JB is a veteran of our defense, he knows a little bit of what is going on. I thought he played pretty well. He and Obi have got some experience. We've got Kevin Leach who played a little bit too. So we've got some guys that rolled in there. The guy that is going to be playing more now because we moved Craig to the line is Mark Moundros. Mark has had really had a couple of good weeks of practice, tough guy. Look for Mark to be in there more often."
Question: Has Kenny Demens made steps even since the time he has been playing regular?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he was really pretty consistent in the game this Saturday. This was one of his better games. It's hard to say, well you gave up a lot of points and yards, but Kenny was in the right spot most of the time and made a few big tackles and I think he is again, sometimes we forget that he is not a real experienced player. He's played a little bit but not to this extent. He's going to keep getting better there."
Question: Tackling was an issue the previous couple of weeks, what did you think of tackling on Saturday?
Coach Rodriguez: "I thought we tackled okay. I don't know…we didn't tackle great. I do not think we got off blocks really well. At times, particularly some of those options plays when you're getting stalked block on the perimeter, you to fight to get off of it and they did a good job of stalk blocker us and we didn't get off blocks really well. I thought tackling was just okay. I thought there was some times when we missed some open field tackles. They had a nice scheme and they had some pretty good athletes doing them."
Question: I know it is pretty low on your list of priorities but talking about the #1 with Roy Roundtree after his big performance; do you think about that at all?
Coach Rodriguez: "I'm not touching no number thing. I got to find everything there is about every number from now on out. Big Jon Falk will let me know. We haven't talked about it. Roy, I think he likes #12. I don't know if it is a top seller in stores, #16 might be the top seller in all the stores. Nobody is asking for it. It might be because they don't want to deal with all the drama either, I don't know."
Question: Do you allow yourself, 67-65 game, if it doesn't go your way, what are you feeling as opposed to what you were feeling after the game?
Coach Rodriguez: "I normally don't, but Rita and I were talking about it after the game. I was lucky because the three 3 overtimes that I've been involved in we've won them. I cannot imagine being on the other side of it. It would be…not that you couldn't get your team back up and respond but that would be tough. To lose that game, any overtime but especially triple overtime game, it would be tough, but we have a hard time sleeping anyways as coaches. I can imagine how many plays you would replay over your head at night trying to sleep. If this play would have went this way or this play would have went there. We replay them anyways. I actually didn't sleep that well Saturday night because I was still replaying the overtime when the game is over. I can't imagine what the losing coaches would think, because there are so many plays that can make a difference in the game. If you win them, you think about it, but you move on. If you lose, it kinds of grinds at it. You have to force to move on, but it is harder if it is a close game."
Question: If you were to force to choose would you take that over a 10-7 game that you win?
Coach Rodriguez: "I'll take anything that won. If we won in overtime, 10-7, it would be a shock (laughter). It would be a shock at a lot of levels, but no just the win period. That's why I think in the locker room…the way that game ended, we made a stop on defense to win it and that to me was a fitting end. Our offense has got confidence. I'm not worried about their swagger or their confidence, but our defense needed something and that at the end, our guys they got after it and the guy was open, but we got to him. The pressure got to the quarterback before he could complete the pass. It was a defensive play that won the game at the end so that was pretty neat."
Question: How many guys were coming on defense?
Coach Rodriguez: "All of them that didn't have to cover somebody. We were bringing, I think they had four wide receivers, we were bringing seven. It was all a cover 0 look. They ran a crossing route. They ran the same play that they had run earlier and scored on. It was kind of a rub route…I don't want to say pick route, but they ran a rub route and we had just missed it and they did the same thing this game at the of the last play and our guy got rubbed off pretty good but the pressure got to him first."
Question: You got Quinton Washington in there on defense. Are you feeling good about the way he is progressing?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, he played a little bit too, just in our goal line, short yardage defense and I think that move may stay. Quinton, we can move him back in a hurry and he can be a contributor, but needing more D-lineman, I think every week. I don't know when he'll get to the point where he can play in our base defense. Hopefully, he'll get a little closer this week with that."
Question: Obviously, it was just one play but you envision maybe blitzing more down the stretch?
Coach Rodriguez: "We did at times. The whole thing is that everybody wants to blitz all the time and if you had three or four year veteran corners and safeties that you knew could lock down this guy and you're not holding your breath every time you do it, then why not. You see the (New York) Jets do it all the time. They got Darelle Revis on one corner and (Antonio) Cromartie on the other. Rex Ryan is not as nervous probably when he is doing that. Us, we get a little bit more nervous. You got to pick your moments. Nobody wants to sit there and die a slow death. You got to pick your moments and there were times when we got home on Saturday and there were other times we didn't and so we got to come up with a balance between it. The whole key is not letting them known when you're doing it. That's the biggest thing we're working on is be able to have our defensive looks so they don't always know what we're in. That's something that you got to work on. It is part of our fundamentals that we're working on. It is easier with experience players because an experienced player will know how to disguise but really play this and mess with the quarterback. The young guys worry about, I got to make sure I'm lined up right here when the ball is snapped. So we're trying to work through those things and get those guys to disguise a little bit more."
Question: Coming into this game, you were holding onto the ball pretty well with turnovers; what happened Saturday, was it the mental errors?
Coach Rodriguez: "No. The two interceptions, the one the kid made a great play and Denard's (Robinson) fundamentals weren't great on the first interception. The second one, I do not want to say a miscommunication but more of a misread, adjustment on the route. The fundamental, when Jeremy (Gallon) dropped one, so it wasn't very good ball security. So it wasn't one particular thing with that. Our guys have been really good with it. Tate's (Forcier) hand was cold. He didn't have a lot of time to warm up. Normally if a quarterback is hurt, you're going to keep him out there a little bit while on the field and let the other guy get warmed up and then this one I believe it was from the sideline, it happened pretty quick. So the ball kind of slipped out of his hand on that one. It was a combination of Roy and him on read on that last interception that he had. So it wasn't all just one thing."
Question: Since it was just a long game, did you spend more time watching film today with the guys? How do you break that down?
Coach Rodriguez: "No. We're not breaking any rules (laughter). We've got our four limit today and so they lifted for about 50 minutes or so and that gives us three hours and ten minutes. We'll use all three hours that we have left from 2:30 on. In fact, when it gets close to that four-hour limit, we've got sirens going off (laughter) and people screaming and countdown clock and all that stuff. Normally, we're shorter than that. We don't even cut it close. If we're at that three hours and 58 minutes, the coaches are running in the building now….I'm messing around."
Question: Does it feel good to joke about that now?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, but I'm not joking (laughing). Last week was a good week. It was good to get that process over and I think a lot of people are relieved that that process is over."
Question: How well did Courtney Avery play on Saturday?
Coach Rodriguez: "He played pretty well. They got the one touchdown on him. He wasn't that far out of position. It was just one-step, but boy he competed. He made a couple of big plays for us. He's a neat guy. I'm sure he was really nervous, but he didn't really show it as much leading up to the game, first start in that kind of environment. I think he'll he able to grow from that. I'm really excited about him. Like I said, now all these young guys that are playing now and now you get Troy (Woolfolk) back and JT (Floyd) back and healthy, now you got a whole lot more things you can because you got a lot more guys that got quality experience."
Question: So many people want to talk about the defense. How important is it to teach these guys, in the teachable moments after a win when they're feeling good about themselves rather than a loss?
Coach Rodriguez: "The biggest thing is not only so much…as coaches you got to put whatever spin you got to do to make sure they learn and feel good about themselves and enjoy being part of the program. So we can put a positive spine on it. I'm not a big pat you on the back kind of guy anyways. We can tell when a guy needs uplifting a little bit, but we're realists and we'll tell exactly how it is and I think the players like that. But you worry about when they leave your building and they're walking down around campus or they're down the street, if is all negative in their minds, they'll completely lose some confidence, if they are not a self confident guy. I think we got a lot of self confident guys, but if you get a win…like right now, even maybe the defense, somebody didn't play well or we gave up a lot of points or whatever. A lot of guys are probably still saying good game, although it might not have been a really good game for them individually, it was a good game for Michigan and that's the part for me that is good. It is for the guys to be able to walk around and enjoy that moment."
Question: Three true freshman started in the defensive backfield and nine either true freshman or redshirt freshman on the two deep, isn't that a positive thing that they are playing now and moving forward?
Coach Rodriguez: "I think so. That's what I think. I think everybody is grinding on it. I'm the hardest one defensive coaches. I'm the hardest one on our guys because there is a standard of play that we should be at. Again, I have not looked at all the other BCS schools or what have you to see who is playing, but this is probably unprecedented to play this many, in particular in the back end in the secondary. It was almost a perfect storm of misfortune to cause us to get to that. These guys got some talent too. Who knows they may have played some without any injuries, but the chance of them having been starting wouldn't have been there. I've never been in this situation, even coaching at the small college having this many inexperienced players having to start and play basically the whole game and for us, we're taking our licks and having our growing pains. But if we do our job and those kids do their job in the next couple of years developing, we're going to be pretty good back there. We got to recruit some more. We got to recruit some competition and all that. These guys are playing before their time and hanging in there."
Question: You mentioned last Thursday negative recruiting and Rod Smith said something on Saturday about how he has had to put out a lot of fires because of the NCAA stuff; how bad has it been on the recruiting trail has it been with that kind of stuff?
Coach Rodriguez: "I don't think that I probably know the full extent of it, because my assistant coaches don't tell me everything about that. They just say, yeah boy, this school is awful coaching negative recruiting. That guy there, boy I hope we beat them because their the worst, but I think assistant coaches all say that, in case they don't sign the guy it is not their fault. I do think our staff has done a great job of dealing with it. I've said many time, I think we have enough positives here that you can extenuate the positives. We've got one of the greatest public universities in the world, the Big House and the support that we have the environment that we have and once they're here on visits or see us, they can see all that. When you have not yet met the kid in person or he has not met your program, your players, your coaches, staff members and all that, and all they do is here things from other people and they'll say things that aren't true. That's what happens in recruiting, they'll say things that are rumored that are out there and then as coaches, you got to set the record straight. Our coaches have done a good job of fighting that. To erase the negativity, anybody that says they love Michigan and love our program and yet they go out and say something negative just because they want to vent, well you don't really love your program because that's not helping you in recruiting and recruiting is the life light of every program. So to go out there and say you love Michigan, but this is the worse, and that, this and that – well your not helping. I'm not saying you got to paint everything with rose-colored glasses and all that, but if you really love the program and you're all in for Michigan, you're not going to go out and bash anything about the university, because it affects recruiting."
Question: Would you consider doing what the (Detroit) Lions did yesterday and have the defensive lineman attempt an extra point or anything?
Coach Rodriguez: "It looked like he kicked it pretty well, he just banged it off the goalpost. If he hit a college goalpost he would have made that. No I don't think I've been a situation where the kicker got hurt…no maybe I did one time, but we had a punter that could try and do that. I think it happened twice didn't it. Didn't the Patriots….didn't Wes Welker kick an extra point or something. Stranger things have happened."
Full Transcript: Coach Rod goes Loooong
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