OSU Postgame: Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez discusses his squad's 37-7 loss to Ohio State. Michigan's headman shares thoughts on his offense's ineffectiveness, poor special teams play, Denard Robinson's health, his job security, and more.

Question:  Did you feel like you were doing some things early on against them?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Yeah it felt good.  The first half we moved the football, just didn't finish drives, poor execution at times, critical times when we needed to and we made some plays and with a game like this you have to finish more drives.  This was the worst we did all year as far as finishing drives inside the red zone and across the 50."

Question:  What happened with Denard Robinson?

Rich Rodriguez:  "I don't know what play it was, but he dislocated a couple of fingers on his left hand, his non-throwing hand and normally that is not as big an issue, but he does like to grip the ball sometimes with his left hand.  He just couldn't get the feeling back into it.  He was playing pretty well.  I thought he made some nice throws.  We had some drops, which hurt us.  We thought he was competing pretty well, so that set up back a little bit.  Tate (Forcier) has enough experience that he could go in there and do some things too."

Question:  Why did Will Hagerup make the trip?

Rich Rodriguez:  "He violated a team rule, so he didn't make the trip."

Question:  Can you talk about the defense early in the game and what happened as it wore on?

Rich Rodriguez:  "I thought early it looked like we hit the right gaps and tackled well and then later we didn't tackle well when we did hit the right gaps.  That's just my view from the sideline."

Question:  You put most of those drops on the receivers or is it Denard not putting the ball where he needed it?

Rich Rodriguez:  "No I thought Denard was pretty sharp.  They got tight coverage, which they do, sometimes the window to complete a bit smaller and you got to make difficult catches and our guys have made a bunch of difficult catches at times.  We're down a little bit at receiver because Junior (Hemingway) didn't play and (Je'Ron) Stokes went out, but those are the kinds of plays that you have to make.  You have to make those kinds of plays to beat a good football team."

Question:  Can you talk about the impact of the kick return for a touchdown?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Yeah that's awful.  That's the first time all year we've done poorly.  The kick wasn't what we wanted.  I don't know if the wind had something to do with that but certainly the coverage wasn't there.  I'll have to watch the film to see why it broke down.  That was a huge momentum buster there.  That shouldn't happen."

Question:  Did you have a message for the team after the game?

Rich Rodriguez:  "I don't know if I need to share it with everybody.  We talked about some things.  I don't need to share everything with you all."

Question:  What is your state of mind right now?

Rich Rodriguez:  "I'm ticked.  What you want me to go, jump out there and hold hands with all the Buckeye fans and sing Kumbaya.  I wished we had played better.  Our guys played hard and that would be expected, but I wish we had executed better and as coaches, we've got to try and put them in position so they can make some plays.  We'll be mad for a while and then we'll move on the next one.  The next one is not going to be for whenever, a month.  This one will sting for a little bit, which it should, think about a little, bit, which you should.  You cannot replay it unfortunately."

Question:  How do you evaluate your defenses play from week one to maybe now?  Is there any progress that you can find?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Some.  Not as much as I would like.  The expectation of the level of play that we expect at Michigan is certainly higher than what we've played defensively, but sometimes I got to temper that because there are a whole bunch of true freshman.  You get out there and a young guy get beat on a play and you want to get really mad, but he is trying as hard as he can.  He's right there, he just needs more experience, needs more reps, needs more strength and speed and things he is going to get.  It is not an excuse.  You all know that have covered us know where we are at with some young guys.  They are what they are.  They will grow from this.  We've got to get them to…we have tried to get them to get to a level of a third or fourth year player would be.  Maybe that is asking too much."

Question:  Do you know that you will be back next year or are you hoping to be back next year?   

Rich Rodriguez:  "I'm going to work tomorrow as always."

Question:  The question has been out there.  I wonder if you are at all concerned about this because the question has been out there – about your future.

Rich Rodriguez:  "I worry about my future every day.  Before I took the job and after I took the job.  Nothing is going to change how we work.  I took this job to make us the best program in America and sometimes it takes a little longer to mold the program to mold the program the way you want to mold it.  Sometimes you get more obstacles in your way when you're trying to mold the program the way you want to mold it.  It doesn't mean you cannot do it.  I'm not deterred one bit.  I think the worse is behind us.  I know it is.  Everybody is going to have their own opinion on that and that's fine and everybody is welcome to.  I feel as confident today and I think there are 100 some players and coaches and people that truly follow our program closely feels as confident as I do that it is going to happen.  It has been slower than I wanted.  A lot slower than our fans wanted and I don't blame them for that, but I'm not deterred by it."

Question:  After a game like to do you understand how it is hard for people to see the same thing?

Rich Rodriguez:  "People see what they want to see sometimes.  Sometimes people just see in certain ways.  I know what I see and I'm in the middle of it.  Maybe some people don't want me to have success.  I would think most people that follow Michigan, and love Michigan, do.  They love our school and love our program.  So we got that going for us."

Question:  What do you see that maybe the rest of us don't every day that maybe gives you that confidence?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Because I'm with them every day.  I see the attitude, how that has been transformed.  I like how recruiting has gone the last two recruiting classes that I've been able to have.  I like the way recruiting is going now.  We've made progress, but not as much as a lot of folks want, not as much as I want.  Are you kidding me, I'm not used to this either.  I'm not used to this.  These folks are not used to this.  They're use to playing in championships and BCS bowls and all that too.  It has been frustrating as heck, but I'm not deterred because I know I where I'm at.  I know what we're doing and I know what we have in the program and I know what we can do to fix it.  I'll evaluate everything again, starting tonight, tomorrow, everything that we have to do so that we can get better, next week, next month, next year.  We will be better."

Question:  Your offense scored seven points today.  Did their defense match up better with your offense as far as others or was it just a matter of execution?

Rich Rodriguez:  "They're athletic defensively.  They did a nice job…we made some nice plays in the passing game… I mean some bang-bang stuff.  Where a guy may have been open or they hit the ball away at the last minute.  Again offensively, particularly the first half, we were just disappointed that we didn't finish.  We had some things going and moving the football and running and throwing and we didn't finish drives.  Some of the was them, but a lot of that was us too."

Question:  The fumble at the end of the first quarter; how big was that play?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We had some momentum then and then Vincent's (Smith) fumble, I do not know if they scored after that one, but certainly, we had the ball across the 50.  We had at the beginning of the year, we had no problems with turnovers and the last part of the year, we've had more of it and again, I'll have to watch the film and see why.  We'll get to the point where we can overcome those.  We'll be good enough in all three phases to overcome some of those bad spots.  Obviously today we were not good enough to do that with all those turnovers."

Question:  Along with the turnovers, but the penalties and stuff that you guys have been emphasizing in practice; was it just the hostile environment, what was going on with that?

Rich Rodriguez:  "A couple of personal fouls, I don't…the stuff after the play is silly.  There is no need for extracurricular stuff after the play.  There is enough intensity during the whistle.  We'll get that part fixed.  We had one penalty…we've been really good all year with no pre-snap penalties, procedures penalties, lined up wrong and we had a 20 some yard pass, we had some momentum and had presnap penalty, which set us back.  I think it was a young guy.  Those are things we shouldn't do."

Question:  On Denard's fumble, it looked like you saw something you didn't like, a facemask maybe?   I know you got to watch what you say.

Rich Rodriguez:  "I don't remember seeing a facemask.  I don't remember what was going on with that one."

Question:  Did he lobby to go back in, in the second half?

Rich Rodriguez:  "When we put him in, he wanted to try it.  Initially, we were just (not going to let) him out on the field and he said, ‘coach, I'm going to try it one time.'  So we did and after he came back out, he said he couldn't feel it."

Question:  Which two fingers?

Rich Rodriguez:  "It was on his left hand.  I'm not sure, I think it was his third and fourth fingers."

Question:  Going forward, do you have a team meeting?

Rich Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We'll have a team meeting Monday, talk about bowl preparation.  They'll have final coming up in a couple of weeks.  Getting a little lifting in staying in shape and then I've got a preliminary bowl practice schedule but until we get the bowl with the date and location time, I'll wait to do that.  You have 15 practices or so get ready for the bowl, but the fix six or seven is when you can do like a spring practice and really teach and develop some of the young guys."

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