Question: You were able to practice outdoors today?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah it was out second day outside. It is different out there. You are dealing with the weather conditions a little bit, a little bit of wind. Obviously we needed that. We are hoping to go outside again Thursday. We will be outside certainly Saturday and then have one more practice next week to finish up and we are going to try and get outside. So hopefully the rest of this spring practice, we can get outside and do some kicking and deal with the elements a little bit.”
Question: So you got one more practice left next week?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah we need all 15, trust me.”
Question: What about a return game?
Coach Rodriguez: “No, we will just install it a little bit and just see how the guys can kick. Put a very simple return game in and kickoff in. We won't do it live at all this spring and we will wait until August to do that.”
Question: Are you rotating guys back there?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t know how you can really tell who can return until you go live and even then you have to wait for a game. That is the hardest thing to do nowadays with the limited numbers is the special teams. Some guys like to scrimmage special teams live in the spring, but we don’t have the bodies to do that, this spring. Next spring we probably can do that.”
Question: So it is a combination of bodies and not being outdoors?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, two things and obviously both of those issues will be resolved. We will have more people next year on the team and hopefully we will have the new indoor building and we can kick in there.”
Question: Is Steve Threet 100%?
Coach Rodriguez: “No, he didn’t practice today. We are hoping he will practice Thursday.”
Question: What does he got?
Coach Rodriguez: “He just has a thigh bruise but it takes a little while to listen up. So we will hopefully get him Thursday, valuable reps. Those guys are pretty sharp mentally, we just got a long way to go technically and obviously he is still learning the system.”
Question: Anything new in the way of injuries?
Coach Rodriguez: “No nothing serious. We have said that Brandon Minor has been practicing, he has got a wrist that he got a little procedure to be done, nothing serious, but he is still practicing with it. We are limiting him a little bit. A few guys that are sick. We have got an illness that has been lingering for a couple of weeks, but hopefully that will be passed through by the end of the week.”
Question: Do you have a format set up for Saturday yet?
Coach Rodriguez: “Naw, it is just a practice. It is probably the least importance of all the practices that we have. We will be out there for about an hour and 15 minutes, get about 100 plays and get out of there. It is basically going a scrimmage between the offense and defense, nothing else. We will evaluate it and see who makes plays and plays hard and all that, but as far as a teaching tool we miss that day from a teaching standpoint.”
Question: Impressions from Saturday’s scrimmage?
Coach Rodriguez: “I thought it was soft. I didn’t think we hit anybody. I don’t think our offense executed. Didn’t make a whole lot of plays, other than that it was alright (laughter).”
Question: Where is your defense in relation to your offense?
Coach Rodriguez: “Sometimes they are ahead, which they should be. I would think our offense with not just a new system but with all the guys that have inexperience in playing, our defense aught to dominate. I get nervous when they don’t. I play a head coach there and my offense gets a first down, I think why did that happen. Maybe it was execution. Our defense has got a ways to go. I think we got some good players. I know I got a good staff and they will be okay. We don’t have any phase that looks good right now.”
Question: Linebacker is one position that you have lost some guys, have people been jumping out to you or stepping up?
Coach Rodriguez: “They have been solid. They have been okay. I think it is still a work in progress, but we have got a few guys that have some experience there at linebacker and a few guys are going to have an opportunity. Nobody really stood out, but there is nothing that is really totally discouraged either, defensively at all. From the front end to the back end, at times they have looked good and at times they have looked poor. I would like for them to look good all the time that hasn’t been the case but probably just about every coach could tell you that. I am not a pessimistic guys, I am not optimistic, I am just realistic. I will just tell you the way it is.”
Question: Last year Austin Panter didn’t get much time at linebacker. He has got a year under his belt, do you see him…?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah I think that he is really anxious to prove himself. He has had a pretty sold spring and trying to get into the rotation there. I have been pleased with some of the things that he has done, as well as some of the other guys. Yeah, I think he knows that it is his time for him to prove his worth and he has had a pretty solid spring.”
Question: Tim Jamison is a guy who has kind of been breaking out. How has he been this spring?
Coach Rodriguez: “Tim has had a pretty solid spring. Again, it is sometimes hard because whether it is poor play on offense or good play on defense, but Tim has a good feel for the game and he has got experience. I can see him providing some leadership for us.”
Question: Saturday’s practice you said was soft. Is that the nature of spring practice? Does it just go up and down?
Coach Rodriguez: “I hope not, but I think it probably is. I think we had more intensity in earlier scrimmages and now they are getting towards the end, but heck it is going to be a whole lot harder than this in August when you are practicing every day. I think it is just the tendency sometimes it happens, but it is not acceptable. I think we had more guys interested in talking about how tough they are than showing it. We have to explain the difference to them.”
Question: So you can't chalk it up to anything? It was just a bad day?
Coach Rodriguez: “I didn’t think it was a very good scrimmage. It wasn’t a waste of time because there was some things we could teach off of and all that. Still, the intensity level that we expect to play at wasn’t even in the same atmosphere.”
Question: What do you say to a guy when you explain to him the difference between talking tough and playing tough?
Coach Rodriguez: “Just that. I mean it is pretty simple. What is acceptable and what is not acceptable and they are still learning. It is not ever going to be acceptable for anybody not to play as hard as they can, as physical as they can, all the time, every player. That is an easy thing to say and a hard thing to get accomplished, but that is my job and our job as coaches to make sure that that happens. The players I think would want that. I would be a guy, if I am going full speed, hard all the time, I want my teammates to do the same thing. When they are not, it is unacceptable, but it has to be trained and ingrained in their mind and for a lot of guys, particularly young players, but even upper classman sometimes. If you let them go that path, it is harder to get it corrected, so we try to get it corrected right away.”
Question: Coaches always talking about the line between not wanting guys hurt or wanting to hit a lot in practices. Where do you fall?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t play trainer. If the trainer says he can go, he goes. If he does say he can't go, he doesn’t go. We don’t ever push a guy to play injured. Now some guys are hurting, but there are a lot of guys that are hurting. They are sore and have got bruises, that is different. I don’t think we have any players…that is one pleasing part. We haven't had any players that have tried to find the training room to get out. They want to show what they can do and compete. I would never get in the middle of that.”
Question: How much do you want to hit in practice?
Coach Rodriguez: “I am not going out there doing live full speed hitting all the time. First the rules say you can't and second off, it wouldn’t make any sense to beat each other up. But at the same time there are times in practice that needs to be very physical and if you are not being physical during that time, you stand out and you look soft and maybe you aren’t soft but you look it. There are times we look like a real soft football team. I have had other teams that looked the same way in spring and then they got the message. So they are learning how, this is the time for you to really get after it and this is the time that we are not going to be as live. The rules are set up so that you are not going live all the time. It ain’t like the old days, I can remember and all us old guys that played way back when, you had 20 practices all with full pads and you used to get t-shirts if you made it, I hit for 20. That was like a badge of honor. Now we get 15 practices, three in shorts and only three devoted to scrimmages. So you don’t have a lot of live opportunities, you got four other days that there are no live. It is limited, but that is a good thing. Half of practice as coaches is you don’t want to get guys hurt. In football, it is a violent game and you have to play violently sometimes and have to teach them violence to survive in it.”
Question: Once practice concludes do you meet with each player individually?
Coach Rodriguez: “The individual coach meets with them, I meet with each guy and we talk about everything not just football, academics and their family. I tell them exactly where we see them standing, what they need to improve, what is good, what is bad and what indifferent. I am looking forward to it, because it is the best chance for me to get to meet them. It has been so busy, the first month and a half I was on the road and then obviously we were limited in what we could do with them. They were with the strength coaches and I have obviously talked to several of them at different times but not all of those have been pleasant conversations. I have been on them about this or that. This is a time, in between finals, I will sit down and we will just talk about everything, every player. It takes a while when you have whatever, a 100. I will blank my calendar off so I can get that done.”
Question: Did you always plan on having another practice after Saturday scrimmage?
Coach Rodriguez: “No I have not done that, but the way the weather was and for us to get the opportunity to get to go outside, we had enough of a window to get it done. That practice will be a lot of individual, a lot of teaching. A lot of lead in for the summer for what we want them to do and work on on their own. That is a long time between now and the time we start practicing again. So we are going to explain to the guys exactly what we want them to do on their own through the summer and hope they follow through on it.”
Question: Terrence Taylor was a guy that looked to go to the NFL for a while. How has he adapted to what you want him to do?
Coach Rodriguez: “He is still learning, adapting. I mean he is a talented guy and has made some plays, but he is a long way from being where we want him to be.”
Question: In what respect would you say? Conditioning? Everything?
Coach Rodriguez: “Everything. Everything, but he is not alone. There are a lot of guys that are right there. They got to get stronger, faster, better shape, technique wise and all that kind of stuff. Those guys know that and again, I will sit down with each one of them individually and tell them where we think they need to go. I want all of them to have great success and if their goal and they are good enough and fortunate enough to play at the next level, we certainly would be happy for them and rooting for them.”
Question: Last week Jim Tressel the gentleman’s agreement is only being followed by “gentleman”?
Coach Rodriguez: “I heard that. Somebody said that on the radio the other day. I hadn’t heard that before.”
Question: Do you have any response to it?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. If not being a gentleman is recruiting a guy to the end, until the signing date, particularly after he visits, guilty as charged. We are going to recruit them to the end. I know as soon as I took the job, there was a guy that was committed to Michigan and he changed his commitment and went to a Big Ten school, right. So I didn’t say heck that guy is not a gentleman. I just felt, well heck they must have been recruiting him all the way along and they jumped at the opportunity. We are not going to break any NCAA rules. We are going to play by what the NCAA rules are. That was the first time I had ever heard about any so called gentleman’s agreement was after signing date. I didn’t get a memo from the Big Ten, (a) handbook that says this is…you are a gentleman. I feel pretty proud about how we recruit. I tell my coaches to be a positive recruiter. Don’t be a negative recruiter. State the facts and all that. If you are asking me if I am going to change how we’re recruit in the future, because of what somebody said, no.”
Question: Do you think most schools have a similar philosophy that you do about recruiting?
Coach Rodriguez: “I could care less what anyone else has. All I can tell you is how we are going to recruit. How we are going to go after it. I am not going to audition for a job or a certain style or certain image. Been doing this long enough, I feel pretty proud in our track record and how we do things.”
Question: I am not trying to be a jerk here, but you haven't turned down an interview yet with the national thing, is that typical…did you have this kind of exposure nationally when you were at West Virginia or do you think this is Michigan?
Coach Rodriguez: “Oh, I have turned some things down. (All the interviews) is a pain in the rear. (Laughter).”
Question: I have seen you everywhere.
Coach Rodriguez: “To be honest with you, I am trying to get out of the news. That is the truth…I say it all the time, what now. A lot of it hasn’t been things that are pleasant. Let’s just talk about the positive things and Michigan football. All the other drama is like National Enquirer stuff. No coaches, none of my colleagues would want to be in it either. When it is an opportunity for us to expose our program positively in a national spotlight then sure we want to do that. That is not my first rodeo. I have been on several of them magazines and whatever that is. I don’t keep track like, check that off, check that off. It is fun for people to read.”
Question: James Rogers is he looking to play offense?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah he is on offense now. He is still learning, but I have seen some good things out of him. Obviously we are so thin at wide out, he was second team the day he moved over. We are going to keep him there to the end of spring and discuss it after spring practice see if we want to move him back. I think that is probably where we are going to work him right now simply because of numbers.”
Question: Talk about your coach’s clinic and how that went.
Coach Rodriguez: “I think it went very well. We got a lot of positive feed back. Had over 600 and some coaches here. I think that it will continue to grow. Our coaches were very accessible, I think they found that out. We talked every night until 9-9:30 at night and sometimes later than that, just individual talks. I told the coaches that we have been so busy that we haven't had a chance to spend much time with them beforehand, but in that clinic, it was a good two and a half days with them spending time with our staff and the positive feedback has been overwhelming. So I was pleased with that.”
Question: You said Tim Jamison is probably going to provide some leadership on the defense line?
Coach Rodriguez: “I think so.”
Question: So on the offense line, has there been anyone that has stepped up?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah there is. I have seen David Moosman and Steve Schilling in particular, those two guys have provided some leadership and have had a solid spring. Mark Ortmann has had a pretty solid spring. So I have been pleased with that. We lost a lot of experience there of course. We are probably going to have several freshman in the two-deep, which is really scary at this level to have a true freshman in the two deep on the O-line, but just from a numbers standpoint we will, but we will be alright. We need to have about eight that can play. Obviously the five starters, a back up guard, center and tackle.”
Question: Is (Dave) Molk getting healthy?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. Dave is getting his weight back. He lost a lot of weight. I see him getting a little bit stronger every day.”
Question: How hard is it to have had Carlos Brown just for a few days?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah that is probably the biggest disappointment of the spring is not being able to get him a lot of reps and seeing what he can do offensively. I mean it is a pretty serious injury. He should be okay obviously in a month or two. We are still unsure about exactly what his role is going to be. We know that he is a talented guy and he is going to be able to help us for sure.”
Question: Kevin Grady is a bigger back. Do you see him more as a running back?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah Kevin, he is playing tailback and he has enough skills to do that. He is also a 225 pound guy and Kevin, I think is a tough guy too. He will stick his face in there. I am pretty excited. He is going to be able to play a lot of different roles for us. One thing I like about Kevin, and a lot of our guys is that he really loves the game and has a passion for it. I wish everybody had that same passion that he and some of those other guys, like you said Tim Jamison, I wish they all had that same passion, but I am excited about him.”
Question: Can you talk about which linebackers are competing for which spots, because we hear a lot about the linebackers?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, I don’t know about the depth chart. There are six or seven, something like that. I don’t even look at who is one-two, first of second team. I will meet with the coaches after Saturday and get a tentative depth chart in my mind and may or may not release it.”
Question: For instance would Panter play outside or inside?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, he is playing outside, both outside positions I believe and we move him around a bit. We like for our linebackers to learn all three positions but in particular the outside guys on the outside and I think several of them will do that. I think we got five or six guys that we will compete for those spots. We will give you a tentative depth chart, but again it may change in August. It may change obviously before the first week.”
Question: Haven't heard much about Greg Mathews, how has he played?
Coach Rodriguez: “Greg has had a pretty solid spring. He has learned both outside receiver positions. He has made some plays. I am anxious for him this summer. He has got a little bit of experience, but not a great bit. Junior Hemingway, he has an injury and is out the rest of the spring, but hopefully he will be okay by the summer. So we don’t have a lot of experience there, but we have got to find at least five or six receivers to get into our rotation, right now that is still a question mark.”
Question: What has been the most trying part of this transition for you?
Coach Rodriguez: “Just everything is new. Again, there is not one…there are a lot of different ways to do things. Our way is sometimes different from somebody else’s way. It is like you are dealing with all freshman and it is a hard adjustment sometimes, but I think I told the guy, the system, the program is what it is. I am not auditioning for the job and asking for opinions on it. I got enough coaches and people that help me to implement. I got enough players that are buying into it. I am never going to lose sleep on the guys that don’t want to work or don’t want to be pushed to a higher level. I think we got plenty there, but gosh, it goes awful slower than you like as a coach and for people that don’t have a lot of patience like myself, it is even more difficult, but we got time. Hopefully, we get it right by August 30th.”
Question: Not to talk about guys who left the program, but can any of the guys that have stayed, have they challenged you at all? Have they said, ‘hey coach this is not the way we did things before.’
Coach Rodriguez: “No, but I told them I wasn’t really interested in their opinion in that. We sit down and talk about it. When I sit down one and one with them, but when we get into a group setting and all that, I am not going to play…okay what do you all think, touchy feeling, I am not one of those, ‘are your feelings okay today’, ‘are you having a good day emotionally’. Hey it is time to work, blow the whistle and let’s go. If they are having a bad day, leave it outside the field. Cross the white lines and lets work. That is usually the way I am. I am not going to give them the number to Oprah or Dr. Phil, whoever let them express their feelings. I really don’t care.”
Question: What day next week is that you are practicing?
Coach Rodriguez: “Wednesday.”