Monday Presser Transcript (Week 3)

(TRANSCRIPT) Rich Rodriguez met with the media Monday to review his team's 16-6 victory over the Miami Redhawks and look ahead to Saturday's contest with Notre Dame. He gave his thoughts on struggles in the passing game, the rivalry with Notre Dame, injuries, and more.

On the offense in the Miami game

"We made some steps at times. I think we are a little bit closer. Watching on film, there were a few more moments where we're close to making a big play or a touchdown play, more so than the first game. It was also disappointing with some of the execution issues. I thought the guys' effort was pretty good. They're starting to understand not only what we do but how teams are defending us. We still have a lot of work to do. It's very frustrating at times, but, again, we have to be patient and understand that there's not just one issue that has some growing pains. It's really every position that has growing pains. Slowly but surely, our guys will get it."

On the injury to Mark Ortmann:

"It doesn't look like he's going to be able to play. He dislocated his elbow and has it in a sling. He's more than likely out for this week. With an open date, hopefully he'll be back for (Wisconsin). With three guys up front, it is probably the position we could afford to lose a guy the most, just simply because of experience and depth. But that's where we're at. We're going to move guys around. We'll move Perry Dorrestein, who has some experience, and he has practiced pretty well. He'll be over there on the left side as will Bryant Nowicki, who came in last week, and true freshman Patrick Omameh."

On the injury to Greg Matthews:

"Greg will be better. He should be able to play this week."

On the injury to Michael Shaw:

"Mike should be okay. He just pulled his groin slightly and didn't do much in practice yesterday. Today (the team) is off. Mike should be practicing tomorrow."

On the injury to Terrence Robinson

"Terrence is getting better. Hopefully he'll start running next week. After the open date, we'll see where he stands."

On the rivalry with Notre Dame:

"You hear about it. Again, you don't have to be coaching here to know that. It's Notre Dame. You understand that there are some traditional rivalries throughout the country. I like to say every Big Ten game is a rivalry, but we have three natural rivalries with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. We're probably one of the most unique schools in the country that have three that are that intense. There's no question that Notre Dame/Michigan is a great rivalry and has been throughout the years."

On if he approaches a rivalry game differently:

"I don't think so. I think it's probably an easier game for both teams to get excited in preparation. You don't worry about the games. Most teams at this stage are going to be excited for that game when game time gets there. What you want them to do is get excited in their preparation and maybe they spend a little extra time on their own watching film getting ready to go. I would hope that our guys would do that. I'm sure (Notre Dame) is doing the same thing."

On if he knows Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis:

"I met him, was it last year? I think it was last spring before my last season at West Virginia. We talked a little football. I didn't know him beforehand. We didn't talk a whole lot, but we talked a little bit of football and talked a little bit about the profession. Most of his career had been in the NFL and mine had been at college, so we talked about comparisons, differences between those two."

On his thoughts on Notre Dame/San Diego State game:

"I missed the first part of it. By the time I got home, I got to see the second half of it. I got there right at the time when (Notre Dame) stopped San Diego on the one. It was a turnover. Notre Dame kind of took control of the game after that, so I saw the last half of it. They seemed to be pretty excited at the end, which they should have been."

On Notre Dame presents:

"Notre Dame is going to have a lot of talent. They have recruited very well in the last couple years. I have not quite compared their depth chart this year to last year, but I think they were very, very young last year, especially offensively. I think most of those guys are back with a year's experience. I think they have seven or eight guys that will start on defense that are back, so they're more experienced than they were a year ago, which I think is well chronicled. I'm sure they're playing with a little more confidence right now."

On Jimmy Clausen developed since last year:

"I did not watch him much last year because we didn't play them. The only thing I can judge it on is from a little bit of their games that we got on film, which I haven't watched a lot of yet. I watched a couple. He was a true freshman (last year). He's no longer a true freshman. He's bigger and stronger. I'm sure he understands the offense better and is a lot more comfortable. Any time you put a true freshman or inexperienced quarterback in for the first time, they're going to have some growing pains. I think now he's probably obviously a lot more comfortable."

On if he think Clausen is rattled by pressure:

"From what I've seen, judged on the last game, he seems pretty composed. It seems like he made some really nice fake throws and touchdown throws. To me, he looked pretty good last game."

On if the defense has a keep-the-score-down mentality because of the offensive struggles:

"I would hope our defense would have that mentality if we're scoring 50 points a game or if we had a veteran offense. I would like our defense to have the mentality that they're going to get three-and-outs, make big plays and all that. But, do we rely on them more now than we'll have to in the future? Probably so. If we get an opportunity to make a play or an interception that could change a field position or score points, those are things that we're really going to need. That's where we're at right now. I think our guys understand that. But I think they have confidence. They've seen our offense do some decent things in practice and a couple things in the game, so it will come."

On why the big plays were missed versus Miami:

"It's just execution. Some of it was technique. Sometimes, you don't step into a throw, you don't quite run the route, there's a misstep in protection or something technique wise. Sometimes you're just a little off. These guys aren't perfect. They're not going to make every play. We'd like them to be as close to perfect as possible, but they're trying as hard as they can. We work pretty hard on fundamentals to this day. Yesterday was normally a day where we'd practice, correct mistakes and do a little bit on Notre Dame. Half of the practice, it still seemed like we were doing some fundamental things. We have to do that until we get it right."

On if there are any changes in the quarterback rotation:

"No. We may start off the same way we did last week with Steve (Threet) and Nick (Sheridan), Steve going first. It's 'or' [on the depth chart] because it really is or. Both of those guys are still there in the mix. Like I said, if one guy would emerge and play to the point where it's just him and he's playing at that level, that would be good. Our concern is that whoever is doing the snaps can execute the system."

On the importance of time of possession:

"It's only important from a standpoint that they only give a unit rest, particularly your defense. If our defense has to play 85, 90 plays as opposed to 50 plays, it's a lot different. That's the one thing about time of possession. That's one of the things about our offense. We only had 53 plays because we didn't get enough first downs. If we get some first downs and start getting a rhythm, any offense is going to be better, but particularly ours.

On why Steve Threet didn't connect on the big pass plays versus Miami:

"Yeah, I think he was making some pretty good decisions. I think sometimes he rushed it. Sometimes there may have been another guy that would have been an easier throw for him to make. One thing I said, these guys have... particularly for really 15 practices in the spring, 20 in August, less than 50 practices, no preseason games and really just two games,,, picked it up mentally pretty well. Now it's just a matter of being able to apply that knowledge and their abilities, and making the throws when they need to make them."

On if he ever received an explanation for the replay that resulted in replaying a down after a pass was initially ruled incomplete:

"No, I haven't. We're going to try to find out about that. I didn't know there were do-overs. I know when you're playing in the backyard or something, you redo it, or if you're on PlayStation, you can push that reset button. I didn't know there was such a thing in Division I-A. I'll have to get that cleared up."

On his plans for implementing more of the offense:

"There's no question we have to do more offensively, but we have to balance that with what we can execute. We're trying to slowly put that in. We won't get our entire package in at all this year. I mean, there's just no way. Eventually we've got to have enough in there to keep teams off balance, I hope.

On Mike Martin:

"Mike followed up an outstanding preseason camp playing pretty solidly. He didn't play a lot of plays. I think 15 or 16 plays. He's a high motor guy and he made the nice sack. He's a very active player. He's going to be -- I mean, he's already a very good player, but he's going to be outstanding before his career is over. For a true freshman to play on either line, and on D line with the strength and the things you're required to do, he's already strong and quick enough. He was a well coached guy in high school. He plays and practices like a veteran. I've really been impressed with him. You could see it a little bit this summer. Mike Barwis, when he came early in the summer for his workouts, said [Mike] was jumping out in front of the line, winning some of the sprints, all those kinds of things. We were pretty excited about him."

On if Kevin Koger still has a chance to play this year:

"Yeah, we are talking about. I told the team I wish we could play more guys. Before the coaches have confidence to put them in there, we have to make sure that everybody's ready, both mentally and physically. Kevin is a really, really sharp guy. Normally for freshmen, there's so much to learn, but Kevin has learned pretty quick. There's still a chance for Kevin because we think he's about ready mentally, and physically he's pretty close, too. We don't have to make that determination. We have a couple good [tight ends] in Carson (Butler) and Mike Massey, but Kevin is right there on the edge."

On Sam McGuffie:

"He's an explosive player. He makes people miss, which he did a few times in the game. He's got the capability of making big plays. He played pretty well but made a few mistakes as you're going to expect. I thought he and Mike Shaw both did some good things and gave us a little spark at times. Sam is so conscientious and so eager to get better and learn. As the season goes along, he'll get better and better. For a true freshman two games in, he'll get better."

On if Charlie Weis' "To hell with Michigan" comment will be put on the bulletin board:

"It might. I'll let y'all have a little fun with that. It was another news thing from the summer for people to talk about in the slow days of the summer."

On Stevie Brown:

"Stevie played pretty well. He's an active player. I think there's still some things where he's got to get better at. He has capabilities of making some big plays. I thought our safety play was pretty good. Charles Stewart played pretty well, and Brandon Harrison has been outstanding. He's been all over the place. We have three pretty solid guys right there at safety."

On what Brown needs to improve upon:

"Stevie, he's played some, but for a veteran guy, he doesn't have a whole lot of experience. It's just the recognition of some things that probably is the biggest thing for him, as any guy that's really playing for the first time extensively has to have. Again, he's another guy that likes playing. He works hard in practice. I think he'll be fine."

On Notre Dame's penchant for blitzing under new defensive asssitant, Jon Tenuta:

"They do blitz a lot. I haven't played against, I think Coach Tenuta is a new defensive assistant. I know they have Corwin (Brown) there as well. I think you can see, judged on the first game, Coach Tenuta's influence. He loves the zone blitz. They blitz them from all different angles, all different types of guys. You have to be prepared for all that movement. I played against that defense in a bowl game when he was at Georgia Tech a couple years ago in the Gator Bowl. We have seen some of the things that he has done in the past. They love to blitz and bring pressure. They bring it from all angles. If you're not executing or if you're not picking up the blitz, they're going to put you in long-yardage situations. We really have to get ready for that this week."

On if he has ever been to Notre Dame:

"I played there my first year at West Virginia. I think it was in October. I don't remember the score, 30-something to 20-something. We got beat. It was raining, wet and the grass was real high. I think Coach Davie, Bob Davie, was the coach there. It was my first year at West Virginia."

On if he watched Notre Dame a lot growing up:

"Back then there wasn't a lot. Now, everybody has a show and all that. That was back when there weren't as many. Notre Dame was on, but I don't know if I got it all the time. We didn't get a lot of stations down in West Virginia. My wife only got two. They watched Andy Griffith quite a bit. Her dad wouldn't let her watch Three's Company. I think (the Irish) were on a few times. I saw a few of the Notre Dame highlights, but back then, I never imagined I would coach in that stadium or anything like that."

On if he was a Notre Dame fan:

"No, no. That's a fair question. I didn't grow up a Notre Dame fan."

On if Donovan Warren will continue returning punts:

"Yeah, Donovan, and we are almost ready to have a rotation with Martavious Odoms back there as well. We may even give Boubacar (Cissoko) a look back there as well. Martavious and Donovan are going to be in the rotation. We just kept Donovan out there because of the experience. Martavious will probably take some reps as well."

On how the new trio of linebackers performed:

"I think Obi (Ezeh) has been pretty solid. I thought John Thompson played a pretty solid game. We're really excited about Jonas Mouton. He's making some mistakes for a young guy out there, but he plays with great energy and made a lot of plays. Jonas, I think it was his first start, was pretty active. He's probably one of our most athletic linebackers as well."

On why he opted to keep Obi Ezeh in the middle and move John Thompson outside:

"We talked about it. I always believe that if you move two guys, you may weaken one position to try to strengthen another one. That's not necessarily the case there. Obi is set in the middle. He knows what he's doing. That's where you need some calmness and leadership, so I think it worked out pretty well. Marell Evans and Austin Panter are still in the mix. They have some other guys to roll in the nickel packages. I liked the way they lined up this weekend."

On the offensive line:

"I saw them making steps. I told them such. It was two, sometimes three guys not quite right. A lot of times it was just one guy. It's not effective, especially in our system, unless all five are getting it done. There's a lot of precision to it. More than anything, we want them to be able to play fast and a little bit more aggressive, pressing the line of scrimmage. We got a little bit better at that this weekend. We have to get a lot better on it this weekend coming up."

On how he decides when to change quarterbacks:

"Usually after a few series or maybe we need a little spark. That was kind of more the theory, to give a guy a chance to sit back and kind of see what's happening. Sometimes when you watch a series or two from the sidelines, you can kind of sit back and watch and get a better grasp for how things are going. Nothing has been defined. It may or may not change in the future. The only thing about Steve and Nick both is when they're in there, they're seeing the game, and they understand what's happening. There's no panic in them. Again, now they've got a couple games' experience, and they're going to keep progressing as the guys around them will."

On if it will be easier on the offense if one seizes control:

"No, I don't think so. I think there's a fair question. Both of them, you could put not only what they can handle but what everybody else around them can handle, too. When you have some young guys in other positions, you don't want to use it. You want all 11 going the right way. That's the biggest difference in offense. You have to have all 11 go the right way. Maybe a receiver running the wrong route over here doesn't think he's a factor, but it could change the whole complexion of a play. We're going to install as much as a group we can handle. I think we're okay with our installation, but we have to do more at times. This is not a good week probably to install a lot because of all the blitzing and all the different looks they get. We'll try to figure it out."

On whether it was tough to evaluate Nick Sheridan's progress because of limited snaps:

"Not completely. We didn't have as many throws at the end of the game there, trying to run the ball some, but I don't judge it just on a game. I judge it on how their technique and on what they're doing and if they're continuing to be coachable or if they're making some of the same mistakes in their brief time each week. If they're not making the same mistakes, maybe it's a new mistake, you're not happy, but at least it's a new mistake. They corrected the old one. That's the thing we're looking for. Not just those two, but every position. Those guys can truly be at the point where they're correcting what they need to correct and slowly getting better."

On Carlos Brown's injury:

"Carlos was in a white shirt practicing for the first time Sunday. That's been the first time in weeks he's not been in a different colored shirt. Carlos can help us a little bit, so we're hoping he'll be full-go. He should be full-go for Saturday."

On if Brown is behind the other backs:

"Yeah, simply because he hasn't had the reps. He's a pretty sharp guy. Hopefully this week he'll have a good week and be ready to go."

On if Justin Feagin still working some with the quarterbacks:

"Yeah, Justin is playing some in the slot, too. He's helping us out at the receiver position, so he's doing some work with the quarterbacks and some with the slot receivers."

On if Feagin is the third quarterback:

"No, David Cone is the third quarterback."


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