Rodriguez Evaluates Scrimmage Performance

Michigan headman Rich Rodriguez met with the media after the scrimmage Saturday to give his impressions on the level of play. He discussed the progress on offense, the strong play of his defense, the areas of his team that need to improve the most, the performance of Avery Horn, fan day, and much much more.

Coach Rodriguez's Opening Statement:  “We let the guys compete a little bit and said that this is probably the least important of all the spring practices, but at the same time we wanted to let them compete… coaches on the sideline and let them have a little fun.  So we got some things accomplished.  We got one more practice left, we will get done next week and then we got finals.”

Question:  Defense looked good.

Coach Rodriguez:  “Defense is coming along and I expect that.  We got more experience on that side of the ball and I think they are learning the system, but we got a long way to go.  We are not even close to being ready to play any football games, but most teams in America would tell you that at this stage.”

Question:  Do you like the speed on the defense?

Coach Rodriguez:  “It is hard for me to tell if we are just slow on offense or relatively fast on defense, but we got to get faster.  I think we have emphasized that in our off season program and for us to have any success, we have got to recruit faster.  Our players have to got to get faster – they have.  I think they have gotten faster, but we still got a ways to go.  We are not even ready…not close to being fast like we need to be.”

Question:  Offensively did you see anything that you liked out there?

Coach Rodriguez:  “I saw a few things on offense.  I thought we ran the ball hard.  Greg Mathews made some nice catches and we made some progress.  There were some mental mistakes today but overall for a first spring, I think we are kind of on track.”

Question:  What do you know about the quarterbacks today that you didn’t know going into it?

Coach Rodriguez:  “About the same.  I didn’t get any answers, but I didn’t have anything that totally discouraged us either.  I think that guys – Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan are competing for the spot right now.  They are smart guys.  They have learned the system.  When they make a mistake, they know right away and that is the first clue that they are picking up the system.  We got some work to do.  They have some skills that we can try to enhance and go from there.”

Question:  Marell Evans and Vince Helmuth both had red shirts today, are they hurt or are they just recovering from sickness?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah, they both have been ill.  We have had the flu bug going around.  Marell had a little abscess thing that we got taken care of.  We probably had about seven or eight guys that weren’t practicing today that will be back in the fall, but everybody is going through that.”

Question:  Coach any comment on the Saline facility?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Saline facility is a great place.  I really appreciate the fine folks here at the school and it was a nice venue.  Obviously, we wanted to have it open to the public, and we will be able to do that in the future we hope.  This is very convenient and plus my house is not far from here.  So it won't take me long for me to change my clothes.  This is a great atmosphere for our players to be in this kind of situation and I appreciate the hospitality.”

Question:  Rich, Terrence Taylor was on the second team, what does he have to do to get back to where you want him to be?

Coach Rodriguez:  “If you are looking at the first and second team, you are looking at the wrong thing.  There is no first or second team.  I will determine that a week before the Utah game.  Right now it is just guys going out with one group or another group.”

Question:  On if he is concerned about the defense outplaying the offense

Coach Rodriguez:  “Naw.  I will watch the film.  I saw some good things out of the offense.  I saw some good things out of the defense.  I thought our kicking was okay at times.  The defense should dominate and if they are not then we got issues.  Because we got more experience and it is easier for them to pick up a new system.  We will be alright.”

Question:  As far as guys picking up the spread on offense, can you tell where they are at?

Coach Rodriguez:  “I think we are probably even ahead mentally of where I would hope to be, which is (an) encouraging thing.  The guys are pretty sharp guys.  They pick up our system pretty quick.  We still again, don’t have 70% of the offense in.  We are not nearly running as fast as we would like.  But we got enough in that we can have a base to start in August in.”

Question:  Rich, (Kevin) Grady went into the spring a little iffy coming off the injury.  How does he look now?

Coach Rodriguez:  “He has had a good spring.  He was hobbling a little bit initially, but he has really come along the last couple of weeks and he is a very tough competitive football player.  We can do a lot of different things with Kevin Grady.  I have been really pleased with his spring.”

Question:  There is this conception that you have to have a running type of quarterback, a rushing threat.  Can you talk about how accurate or inaccurate that perception is?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Well if you have that guy you certainly can utilize him in the offense but if you have a guy that is more of a drop back thrower, you can use those skills as well.  I have always said that we have to fit our offense schemes around the talent of our skill players exceptionally our quarterback and we have done that for 17 years now.  Whatever they do well, we will try to enhance and we will try to build our offense around that.”

Question:  Anything else that you are going to focus on, on Wednesday? 

Coach Rodriguez:  “Wednesday is going to be a lot of individual work.  Basically it is a practice for us to show them some things that we want them to work on this summer on their own.  We will get a little group work in as well.  It is going to be a lot of individual work with our guys to see exactly what we except them to come back in August getting better at.”

Question:  Did you have fun today?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Me?  Yeah I love practice.  The practices for coaches, even though we may be yelling and running around that is our most enjoyable time.  I like seeing the guys compete.  I would rather have a regular practice to be honest with you, but this was fun for the guys and it was okay.”

Question:  Coach are you going to have a chance for the players to meet the fans later this season?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah, I am glad you asked that.  We are going to have a fan day in August and we may have one this summer as well, but we are certainly going to have one in August in conjunction with our picture day, sometime mid August.  We will make sure that that announcement is out.”

Question:  70 degrees yesterday and today 45 and rainy, was it good to get them out and in the elements?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah, well no.  I would rather have 70 degrees, but the last spring game I was involved in, it snowed at this time of the year.  This is not too bad.  It rained a little bit hard.  It makes it hard for our offensive guys because the ball is wet and it looked like our defense guys had trouble catching the interceptions too.  We got through it, it was okay.”

Question:  Last week you said that you were not happy with the intensity in practice.  Did you see an improvement?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Still not completely but it has gotten better.  I think our guys are still learning what we want.  I thought today, it didn’t seem like we were really explosive at times and maybe they are thinking somewhat but again, I also saw some other things when where we were.  So there is bits and pieces, but we got a long way to go.”

Question:  You talked all spring about being alarmed putting in a new offense and the offense even gains a first down.  Today the offense had a bunch of first downs and a couple of touchdowns.

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah it makes me nervous whether is our defense is making mistakes.  Again, we are being very generic today.  I wouldn’t let the defense do too many different things.  I didn’t let the offense do some things, because why show your hand.  I don’t know who is here.  There might be folks that snuck in here that we don’t want to see.  You never show a whole lot in a spring scrimmage anyways.  I think that we are kind of on track, but our guys understand that we have got to have a great summer.  We lost some of the best players in the country and some of our best players, probably our six or seven offensive players and three or four of our best defense players have moved on.  Gone on to the NFL probably, so we got a lot of talent to make up for.”

Question:  Was today an example of what Avery Horn has been doing this spring?  He ran fairly well today.

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah Avery is getting a lot of reps.  He is a young guy.  I really like his attitude.  He is eager to learn.  Obviously he is behind a couple of veterans there.  It is going to be interesting how these guys do this summer.  I think they will have a great summer; they got to have.  We got some talented freshman coming in here.  We will probably play more young guys this year than they have in a long time and that is out of necessity and particularly because of the transition of schemes."

Question:  You have seen all these guys for weeks now, was there anything that surprised you today?

Coach Rodriguez:  “No.  Today was like a typical practice.  You have all seen this.  This was probably like most of the scrimmages that we had.  There are some things that I shake my head, it is really ugly.  There are some things that give you some hope, but as a coach, I have learned to be a little bit more patient with our first spring.  Normally a practice like today would make me go nuts, but I am being patient plus there are people watching, so we will be nicer.  I think the guys had some fun this spring and they have come a long way and I am proud of them.”

Question:  Is that patience a learning experience for you?  You have grown into that?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah.  I guess, 20 some years, I have finally grown into that.  I think our guys are starting to adapt to the way we do things.  Not just coaching style but how we do certain drills and even today how we do our pregame is different for them.  Everything is different and as we go along they will get faster and faster.  That is our goal.  We have got to play faster, more physical and they will.”

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