Coach Rod Speaks: Complete Monday Transcript

The whole Rich Rodriguez transcript from Monday: Kevin Grady; now vs. end of spring: progress with conditioning and learning the system; in juries; the quarterback situation; returners … much, much, MUCH more.

Question: We saw Kevin (Grady) out there and you had said last week that he was suspended. What is the status now and what changed since then?

Rich Rodriguez: "Why do we have to start off a question with a negative connotation. He is still suspended as far as actual games, but he is practicing and he has done enough to earn enough his status back on the team, but he has not done enough yet to warrant playing time, if you know what I mean. There will be some playing suspension but that is yet to be determined. He is out there working, and he is not working with the first couple of groups but then again we don't have a first or second team solidified and won't probably for another two and a half weeks."

Question: It has been a couple of months now since you have been hired, is it kind just a relief to get on the field and coach football now?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah. Probably not as much as one would think, I am sure the players would echo the statements, it is nice to just play football. There is so much that goes in too getting prepared to be a football player during the season; summer workouts, spring practice and all that, all that is a prelude to actually getting ready to play a game. So now we are actually getting ready to play a game. So the players had good enthusiasm today; they worked extremely hard and I think the coaches were excited as well."

Question: How much difference could you see and what could you see that was different from maybe the last practice in spring and the first practice today?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well the obvious is that we are in better shape. Not every team is going to tell you that, because in spring practice you don't do a lot of conditioning because you don't have a game to get ready for. Now in the summer, you are getting prepared for the season, so all of our team is in better shape. I think every player when I asked them, raise your hand if you are in the best shape of your athletic careers. I think they all raised their hands. Now they could be faking me out, but they got through the first practice, which was pretty intense, two hours, moving lot a bit, running at the end and they got through it very well. The key for us is to continue to do that. We are not in game shape, but we are in a whole lot better shape than we were in the spring and we are right on track."

Question: On whether the players seemed more familiar & comfortable with the offense?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah they did for scheme wise. There were a few mental mistakes as there will be. We are going to put a lot on their plate this week while we are in shorts. What I was really pleased with, particularly with the freshmen, skilled guys on offense. I think there is going to be a handful, five or six or seven of the true freshmen that are picking things up quickly for our first day so that was good."

Question: How does the quarterback situation look?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well they are still competing. I thought Steve (Threet) did some good things today. I thought Nick Sheridan had a really good day. I thought he had a good day. Justin Feagin showed a few things as well. It is going to be a competition that may continue to go throughout the season. I hope that we have at least two that we feel that we can win with that is the goal. Not so much as finding a starter as finding two that we feel that we can win with."

Question: When do you want to have those two nailed down, as soon as possible?

Rich Rodriguez: "By game week. Before we play Utah, some time during that week would be good."

Question: Was everybody able to participate injury wise, anybody out?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, the only guy was limited was Junior Hemingway who is still recovering from the injury that he had in the spring. He did some but not all. I think that it is just a few days for him. Then obviously a freshman, Elliot Mealer is not going, practicing because of his injury situation. There were a few guys that cramped up today, but for being in shorts, hopefully, we won't get anybody injured in shorts today."

Question: On the first day of practice?

Rich Rodriguez: "The first day of practice is pretty exciting. What I am really pleased and you get involved as a coach, you get involved in certain drills and try to coach, see things all over. I like getting in the middle of it. I like actually coaching and teaching, in particular working with the offense, but there were times when I was able to sit back and evaluate some of our coaches and I know them of course, but I am just so pleased with the staff. I think I got a lot of good teachers, a lot of good guys, and I think they will do a great job here."

Question: What tends to catch your eye early on in camp and what are you looking for?

Rich Rodriguez: "Obviously guys that play with great passion that can make plays that are consistent. Guys that have the same kind of high motor on every snap, again it is hard to tell on the day. Everybody, all coaches tell you everybody looks good in shorts and all that, but I do think that some of the guys that have not played and they are having the opportunity for the first time whether it is offense or defense are starting to give us more confidence. Then some of the veterans that have played, you can see why they have had some success in their careers."

Question: Which are the skilled guys that you mentioned as freshmen that stood out?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well all the skilled guys, the offense freshmen skilled guys, the slot receivers (Martavious) Odoms and (Terrence) Robinson, (Sam) McGuffie, (Mike) Cox, (Michael) Shaw, all those guys, Justin Feagin, all those guys showed some flashes today. We got two good tight ends in Brandon Moore and Kevin Koger, those guys showed some athletic ability. Our goal in recruiting in this class was to improve our skill, in particular, because of all of the formations that we like to do in the spread, and I think we did that with these guys. Again, we are not in pads yet, but they are pretty intelligent guys as well, which is something that you don't know for sure until you put a (freshman) in on how quickly they can pick it up, and they seemed to pick it up."

Question: Well any of those guys have a shot of returning punts or kickoffs?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, we are going to see. Again, it is early. Whether it is kickoffs or punts all those guys will have an opportunity at one or the other. We have some other guys that have done it here, and you know you got to count Daryl Stonum as well even though he was here in the spring; he is still a true freshman, so it is his first chance and he showed some good things as well."

Question: You think Elliot (Mealer) will be able to practice prior to the first game or is he out?

Rich Rodriguez: "Elliot, doubtful that he will practice this month."

Question: You have some good returning players on defense, how would you say that the defense is coming along right now?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think they are playing a little faster than they did at the end of spring. I think that is just the familiarity with what we are doing scheme wise and obviously being in better shape. I think Coach Shafer's plan is to put the base in by the end of this week and then slowly start adding some our packages. At least our guys on defense, a lot of them have fundamentals have some experience because they have been here for a while. There will be a few young guys that have a chance. Boubacar (Cissoko), Mike Martin, JT Floyd, those guys were flying around pretty good, but I feel good at least where our defense is physically and then as we get into scrimmages we will see how they can handle a lot of different stuff that we will throw against them offensively."

Question: On whether the defense will pick up some of the slack for the mistakes made on offense?

Rich Rodriguez: "Sure, yeah, any time you have inexperience on one side of the ball or other, you hope that the other side will make up some mistakes that are going to happen. We are going to make mistakes on offense. We got to keep them to a minimum and not make big mistakes and our defense and special teams has to be outstanding and that is not a bad recipe no matter where you are at. I am not going to sit here and say our offense is not going to do anything. I don't want to discount them either. We got a lot more work to do as far as being confident right now in our offense than we do in our defense."

Question: Talk about your offense a little bit. You are replacing a lot of guys that have gone, (Mario) Manningham, (Mike) Hart, you got a new group starting?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah four of the five guys up front are new; the backfield is new; the wide receiver crew is new. There are a lot of new guys. The one thing that I have said before is sometimes they are your hungry player if you haven't played a lot and that can make up for some things. The experience, you can't get until you play. Until we play a game, I won't know exactly how some of these guys will react. We will try to put them in pressure situations in practice and get them prepared for the first game, but until we play Utah there are going to questions and even after that game, I am sure."

Question: We saw George Morales out there. He is on scholarship?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, he signed in February. He is here and he is competing for the backup long snapper job."

Question: He is on scholarship?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yes."

Question: Going back to the offense, did you see cohesion out there with the offensive line?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah a little bit. Again, the hardest position to evaluate in shorts are the guys up front, because they are just hugging each other up. They may be exchanging phone numbers for all I know. I think they are a pretty prideful group. They enjoy being around each other and take a little pride. We challenged them, Coach Frey and I did yesterday, saying that there are a lot of questions about them, but I have complete confidence in them and so does Coach Frey. Hopefully, our goal is to have at least eight guys there that we feel that we can win with and I think we will have that."

Question: Given that period we were in there, Threet looked a little more comfortable on the option maybe than when we saw him in the spring. Has he spent a lot of time on that?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think this summer, again, I wasn't around them and they were out there on their own if they were doing it. I think him and Nick said that they spent some time doing some of those things on their own. I think it is just more confident that he knows exactly what to expect. We are going to run some of the same stuff we did. He won't be as explosive as Pat White, but who is. Steve is a smart guy and Nick is a smart guy, and they are very, very competitive. We will have to have some packages and things they will do well."

Question: Is (Dave) Molk back closer to where you want him to be physically?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, Dave is fine. He has been fine all summer. I think he had mono or something in spring; it really knocked him down a little bit. Out of all guys that we had surgeries and missed the spring, the Mike Masseys and Will Johnsons and those guys are 100% now."

Question: How difficult is your system to pick up?

Rich Rodriguez: "I don't think it is hard, but I have been doing it for 18 years. I think we are doing some new things now that we hadn't done, and we got to change some of the terminology. Every couple of years or so, you have to change your signals and some of your terminology, because you are no-huddle and who knows what is out there. We thought that this year was the time to go ahead and change some signals and all that. So even for the coaches like myself that has been doing it, we still got new signals and new terminology, but it is easy for us because that is all we have to worry about. We don't have to worry about classes, biology class and English class and all that. It is different and the pace of it is different, but it is nothing that our guys can't handle. If you go to Michigan, you are going to be intelligent guy and you should be able to pick this up. Again, it is twofold when you teach a young guy; he is also worried about his fundamentals, so we got to teach both."

Question: For Big Ten defenses that haven't seen it, how dramatic do you think it will be to have seen this type of system?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think it is probably overrated, the impact, so called impact in the Big Ten. Because there has been spread offenses in our league for years. There are probably seven or eight that use it either exclusively or quite a bit. So the fact that us using a spread will be different in Big Ten, I don't think that is true at all. I am not really worried about the others; I am just worried about us executing our system."

Question: Did you have Carlos Brown at quarterback some today…

Rich Rodriguez: "We were just doing that today. We knew you guys were filming (laughing). That was just playing around. With Carlos cramped up, he missed the end of practice, but it was good to have him out there, because he is a guy that can play slot receiver, play tailback and he has got good ball skills. He is certainly going to be a weapon for us on offense."

Question: Have you emphasized to them that there is competition there right now?

Rich Rodriguez: "We are going to give him reps, but right now they are all getting reps pretty much. You can put them aside and let them learn slowly or you can try to crash course them, put them in and let them make mistakes. I have done both. I think the easiest thing is that if you have any hopes at all of playing them, is to throw them out there and let them make a few mistakes, correct them and see who can handle it."

Questions: In terms for your plans with offense, do you have benchmarks? You said Scott Shafer is going to put in the defense.

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, we have an installation schedule. Our offense installation schedule has been about the same everywhere you go even if you are at the same place for four or five years. Your installation schedule usually stays pretty much the same and it has for us. Now what we do, we are always a little more ambition. We think that we will have this X number in, 70% or so by the end of the week and the end of the week gets here and you are not executing, so you drop it back down to 50%. That will be the case again. We think a lot more positive in that regard than we will actually have probably at the end of the week."

Question: You talk about the defensive line and how good that group can be.

Rich Rodriguez: "We have more depth there. I certainly think they are in better shape. Going offense against defense is sometimes going fast and in the spring, we had a lot of guys with hands on their hips. Today, our defensive line responded better to that. I think they are all in better shape, and we are going to have the ability to play seven or eight guys, but we want them to be in shape to play 80 plays themselves, even though you should never have to do that. They are look pretty good so far."

Question: Can you talk about the slot receiver situation a little bit.

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah it is still a very fluid situation. We got Toney Clemons who played there and there in the spring and then all those young freshmen; you know Greg Mathews. All the wide receivers are probably learning to play both inside and outside. One of our goals in the next two weeks is to get as many offensive players to be able to play as many different skilled positions as possible, tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and that way, one, it creates depth and two, it gives us a little bit more flexibility in what we can call. That is one of our major goals probably in the next two weeks."

Question: What did you hear about Justin Feagin's summer workouts? Can you explain a little bit more of what you saw from him.

Rich Rodriguez: "I think all the freshmen did a nice job in the five or six weeks that they have been here as far as one, getting in better shape and two, hanging out with the upper classman and learning a few things. Today just learning the signals, if you got through that today okay then that was a positive and most of the freshmen were able to do that, at least the skilled guys. So it shows me that they did some work this summer with the upper classman."

Question: Can you talk about the importance of what you receive on a national ranking in the preseason to the program?

Rich Rodriguez: "Who cares? I mean, if it gets the fans excited; we already sold our tickets, I think, didn't we Bruce. We are already sold out, sometimes if you are not used to that and you get your team ranked high, it sells a few more tickets that is good – rah rah."

Question: So you don't use it as a motivation tool?

Rich Rodriguez: "Naw. To me, it is fun for everybody to write about, opinionate about, whatever, but they probably shouldn't even take a poll until October. The reason that we are probably ranked there, because we lost a lot of players, is because of reputation of Michigan, I would assume, but it don't matter."

Question: Coach, how confident are you that the spread offense is going to be successful?

Rich Rodriguez: "Pretty confident that I will still be coaching here for a while (laughing). It is pretty flexible. I think as a coach we got to be that way, and I think my staff realizes that that we got to fit it to our personal each and every year. Not just here because we are new here and this is our first year here, but I think every year. I think for the last 17, 18 years, there have been areas of the offense that you feature or emphasis more based on the skill of your offensive players and this year certainly that will be the case. I think we got a lot of different ways to it. The biggest key is the players making plays and the execution of it. The scheme itself, the X's and O's; I have said it many times, it is overrated. It is the execution and it is the players. Our job is to try to get them and put them in a spot that they can have success."

Question: What is your schedule for the week from here on out and when is you guys getting into pads?

Rich Rodriguez: "We are in shorts the next three practices and then Friday will be the first day in full pads. We will be very similar. Our guys will lift a little bit in the mornings, a couple days this week we will have some walkthroughs and then practice in the afternoon. Then Saturday will be first two-a-day, which we will practice in the morning early with no meeting and then go in the afternoon again. Every evening we will have a little meeting and little team bonding things maybe and get to know each other. That is one of my goals in the next 20 some days... for us to really get to know each other. So each night we will do some things that help us in that regard."

Question: Just curious about the loud music in practice; I never noticed that in a major program, when you walk in.

Rich Rodriguez: "I wanted to see if anybody could dance. Don't they have that show now, So You Think You Can Dance. We do it for crowd noise or try to make a distraction when we are taking the exchange, when our centers and quarterbacks are doing the exchange, our running back doing an exchange. Our quarterbacks have to verbalize louder. Those are the reasons why we do that. It is maybe loosens them up a little bit too. The main reason is just so, our quarterbacks, if you notice it we usually put it right when they are taking snaps so they have to get used to being loud on their cadence."

Question: Who chooses the music that you use?

Rich Rodriguez: "That is another fluid situation. Big Dusty is in charge of it, but I have already told some of the players that they can pick some of the music, and I am sure that a lot of them will ask for that. There was some of them that were pretty good, but Dusty will go off on a tangent and play some of the same songs over and over and everybody will be yelling at him, so hopefully tomorrow will get a little better."

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