Rich Rod Speaks: QBs, Injuries, & More

(TRANSCRIPT) Rich Rodriguez met with the media today before practice and discussed when he'll name a starting quarterback, the injury situation, Boubacar Cissoko's progress, John Ferrara, and more.

Question:  Quarterbacks Rich, have you (named a starter at QB)?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Is that the first question you are going to ask.  I could bet that.  Imagine that.  Naw, I am not ready to announce one today.  To be honest with you even if I was ready to, I am trying to think, why would I?  Not that it gives you that much of an advantage, because again they are both the same; both Nick Sheridan and Steve Threet are both the same kind of guy as far as what their abilities are and all that.  I will talk to the guys probably later today and certainly by tomorrow, so they will know.  They won't go into waking up Saturday morning wondering who is starting.  They will know.  I am not sure that I will announce it.  Don’t really see why I have to.”

Question:  Anything else come out of the two days of practice, since I guess Monday?

Coach Rodriguez:  “A positive, nobody got hurt.  So from what we have injury before why with the two guards out and Terrence Robinson out, we got the rest of the guys going.  We made some progress.  Then again we made some mistakes too.  Probably more mistakes in a Tuesday practice, a game week than you would like to have.  Every day is a process for us and there is some positives too.  I saw some good things this week on both sides of the ball.  We will find out a lot on Saturday.  I certainly think the guys are ready to play, but I think every college football player in America right now is ready to play a game and tired of practicing.”

Question:  How John Ferrara advanced to the point where if somebody got injured on the interior line, he would be the first one in?

Coach Rodriguez:  “He would be the first one in at guard, at right guard.  We have kept him at one position, because he has only been there a week and a half.  I think eventually John is a really smart guy and I think that he will learn a couple of different positions up front.  That is such a position to take a whole lot of time that if he can learn two positions by the end of this season it would be a bonus.  I am certainly glad that we moved him over there.  He will have a chance to play certainly this weekend.”

Question:  So he probably won't start Saturday?

Coach Rodriguez:  “No, more than likely he won't, but again, we got a couple more days left.  He is going to play, and I think, and I have talked to all of the coaches we got to plan on playing a lot of people Saturday for several reasons.  First off, it is going to be a warm day.  We are playing a team, both teams like to play at a fast tempo, so we got to get a lot of guys on both sides of the ball playing and I think our guys see that.  The way we rotate in practice.  For instance on offense some teams will give the first group five or six reps and the second group one or two reps, we give equal number of reps to both groups.  So if the first group is running four plays and the second group will come in and run four plays.  That is a little different than some places.  We have always done that, to get both groups ready and to get more guys, we feel that we can try to win with.”

Question:  Is it tougher to play the way you guys play on offense if the weather is warm as it is supposed to be?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Usually, our history has been just the opposite.  The better the weather, the warmer, the more advantage that the tempo gives you, but again, I don’t think that it is much of an advantage in this game because they are a team that is used to it as well, Utah is.  So that may be negated a little bit.  Normally in our experience over 17 or 18 years of it, the warmer hotter days have been more beneficial.”

Question:  Will you script when the second group would come in or something?

Coach Rodriguez:  “No and it is again, I have said this before, it is more of a feel thing.  At certain positions, if you got a lot of wide receivers running down, doing a lot of running, we may rotate other guys in there.  That is a position that is easier.  The O-line traditionally doesn’t rotate as much individually but at the same time we got to get some of those guys reps as well.  So usually the O-line and quarterback are positions that you don’t rotate as much.  Even in this game, hopefully if we get things going or get some tempo going you can play more people.  That is our goal.  We certainly expect to play four tailbacks and we expect to play up to six or seven wide receivers.”

Question:  Will you have a quicker trigger pulling the quarterback since these guys were equal or be more patient because they are both…?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah that is a good point.  I think what I don’t want to do to the quarterback is worry about every mistake, ‘aw I made a mistake, I am coming out’.  Sometimes you have to fight through it.  If they are making really, really bad mistakes a lot, obviously you got to calm them down a little bit too.  But again that is more of a feel thing.  I think they will want to go out there and compete and all that and if we need a spark or it looks like we need to calm one of the other quarterbacks down, we will bring them to the side.  I hadn’t done that in the past.  That is just more of a feel thing through the game.”

Question:  What is the breakdown of the coaches on who is going to be on the field and who is going to up in the box?

Coach Rodriguez:  “We have got offensively, Calvin Magee is on the headset with me in the box and kind of sees the defense and he assists with the play calling.  Calvin is the guy on the offense that knows it better than anyone, he and I.  He is the one that communicates with me on the headset a majority of the game.  Greg Frey, the O-line is down.  Tony Dews is on the field.  Fred Jackson is on the field.  Defensively, Scott Shafer, the coordinator will be up in the box, as will Bruce Tall, our D-line coach.  Tony Gibson and Jay Hopson will be on the field.”

Question:  When you have a quarterback like Brian Johnson, it is kind of similar a lot to your offense, is it easier for you to simulate during the week some of the things?

Coach Rodriguez:  “It is hard because he is such a mobile guy and he is a veteran.  That is a concern that every coach will tell you.  You have a veteran quarterback, a senior that can run and throw and really understands the system and you have to be prepared for a little bit of everything.  I am sure that they have their entire offensive package and even a few wrinkles.  A lot of people say well there is a lot of unknowns what we are going to do.  There are unknowns any time you play a first game because they have had all summer and spring practice and fall camp to add a few things in there.  So you almost got to be very quick to adapt, your first game more than any other game.  That concerns you when you have some inexperience, but at the same time everybody is going through it.”

Question:  What has been your impression of Boubacar Cissoko throughout the camp?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Boubacar has had an outstanding camp.  He is going to play as a true freshman.  He is on some special teams; he is a backup at corner.  He is a very, very competitive guy.  Football is important to him; I hope it is to all of them. You can just see that he comes to practice to compete on every play and I think that is why he has gotten better.  I am really excited for him.  I think he is going to have a great future and it is going to start this weekend.”

Question:  Do you script any amount of plays at the beginning of the game?

Coach Rodriguez:  “We script.  I used to script the first 20, 21 plays or so and tried to stick to it, but we got away from it a few years back, because you never know how somebody is going to play you.  So what we list our script out is maybe what we think is our top 20 plays on normal down and distance and then try to get them in the first quarter, first half, but if they play us a certain way or if we are seeing something different that we were not expecting then obviously come off the script.  But we usually like most coaches have a list of what we think is our top 20 plays and then try to get them in there at least to see how they defend them in the first half.”

Question:  Do you remember what your reaction was last year when you saw that Appalachian State beat Michigan in week one?

Coach Rodriguez:  “I don’t really remember.  I remember seeing the score and being surprised I am sure like everybody else, but I can't remember in relation; I think we played the same day, so I don’t remember when I heard, whether it was before our game or after the game we played.  I think you are going to see more and more parody in college football throughout the next five or six years than ever and I think it is here to stay.”

Question:  Obviously so much has changed since then, you’re here and your staff is here, do you use that game at all as any kind of a lesson, like you have to be ready no matter what?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Naw.  I think everybody can understand that is a simple thing to see.  It is in the past and there are lessons to be learned from the past, but I don’t really think it is related to now.  If there are any players here that was part of that, certainly doesn’t needed to be reminded of it.  It is out here and it is in the past.  I am sure that there are coaches throughout the country that are playing NCAA-1AA schools or something like that, but it is not like Utah.  You are talking about Utah, as a potential BCS team, a bowl team, a team that won nine games and is projected to have as good a team as in 2004 when they went undefeated.  That is a different deal.  It is not like you are playing a NCAA-1AA and really worried about your guys overlooking somebody.  And not that that was the case, I am sure there are a lot of coaches that are opening up against NCAA-1AA this weekend and probably using that as an example.”

Question:  Do you have a better understanding of Terrence Robinson’s knee and what the extent might be?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah, it is going to be a few weeks, which is unfortunate, because Terrence Robinson would have been playing some this weekend, I think.  He will be a few weeks, but it is not a season ending thing.  I just talk to him.  He will get the brace off in a couple of days and hopefully start jogging again next week and we will see how he feels from there.”

Question:  Is Corey Zirbel already had surgery?

Coach Rodriguez:  “Yeah he has already had surgery and for us it is a six to eight week thing.  So obviously it is long term.  Now whether he can play again toward the end of the year, we just have to wait and see how his knee responds to it.”

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