Monday Presser Transcript (Week 4)

(TRANSCRIPT) Rich Rodriguez met with the media Monday to review his team's 35-17 loss Notre Dame and look ahead to the bye week. He gave his thoughts on the play of Steven Threet and Sam McGuffie, shoring up ball security, injuries, getting ready for Big 10 play, and more.

On the bye week practice schedule:

"Just to give you all the schedule, because I don't even know if Dave knows it yet, we met yesterday. Obviously we have that 24 hour rule. Win or lose, we meet the next day, they lift a little weights, watch the film, try to get that corrected. After 24 hours, it's over. Normally they have Mondays off. But today we're going to get a short practice in, mostly special teams, as we've got a lot of work to do there. Probably be about an hour or so this afternoon. Then we'll practice normally on Tuesday. Practice on Wednesday. Probably go early. I think we're looking at an early practice, maybe a 6 a.m. on Thursday. Then this is the one open week. It's an opportunity for coaches to go out and evaluate recruits. So we'll go do that on Thursday and Friday, maybe even some of the guys on Saturday. So the players will have Friday and Saturday off from practice. Then we'll go back on our normal schedule on Sunday. That's kind of what we're doing this week so far; could be subject to change. But that looks like what we planned on doing."

On the coaches hitting the road to recruit:

"Yeah, the new rule is you have 42 evaluation days that you can use. So if you had seven coaches out at a time, which are allowed, that uses seven days. So it's hard to do that. We would like to do a lot more during the season, but it's hard for us because the coach, obviously with early games, all that, they go on the road somewhere Friday night, they get back here in time for the game on Saturday. This open week is really the best and first opportunity for us to get out. We'll be out in full force to watch games, visit schools, check on the transcripts, and get information from the coaches on the players and things like that. "

On if this a good time for a bye week:

Yeah, it is. It's good from that respect after three games. Maybe get a little healthier, evaluate some things scheme wise, player wise, depth chart, all that. Also, you know, kind of neat how it's broke up right before our Big 10 season. So it's kind of like we told the team, it's like we have our second season now, the first season is over. Things didn't go exactly like we wanted, but now we have a new second season with the Big 10. That's always our first goal, is to compete for a Big 10 championship. That's upon us. I don't think we'll enjoy having an open week after a loss because that makes the two weeks seem really long. At the same time, it comes at a good time for us, a little step back, do some evaluations, get a lot of fundamental work. Especially when you have some young guys, you can't do enough fundamentals. That's really even for the upper classes. We'll get a lot of work done this week on that."

On if his team took any steps forward Saturday:

"Yeah, you know, we ran the ball a little bit better, even in some tough conditions. I thought Steve Threet made some steps. Had a few plays that obviously he'd want to have back, we'd want to have back. They're almost unforced errors. Those are easily correctable. But we made some steps. Our defense, it was facing some tough situations and sudden change. We gave up a few plays. At the same time, we bounced back and they made a few plays as well. We were disappointed we didn't we had some opportunities for turnovers. Ball was on the ground and we didn't recover it. We're going to work on those things this week as well. I thought we made some steps. But the turnovers were obviously the big killer for us in that game."

On whether big changes are in store schematically:

"No, no, no. What we're doing, what are guys are executing well, what they're not. You always want to add a few things. Again, I've said this a bunch of times, you have to be careful. If you're making progress, you don't want to stunt that progress by giving them a bunch of stuff and making confusion. We've done enough things offensively and defensively at least to say, we run this play well, we're executing this well, we're not executing this well, try to gear that down."

On Carson Butler's personal foul that resulted in ejection:

"Couldn't see it on film. I didn't see it on the field. We're getting interpretation on what he's ejected for. If you're ejected for fighting, I believe you sit out for the first half of the next game. If you're ejected for a flagrant foul, there's not a penalty for the next game. It did not have it on the official's report, what it was. So we're looking into that and then react accordingly."

On the play of the offensive line:

"It was okay. Again, there were some guys that got a little bit better and some guys did not play as well as we'd like. We're going to get a little healthier, I hope, unless we get unlucky in practice. Huyge is closer to getting back ready to play. Ortmann will be limited this week, but he may be back by next week. I thought Perry Dorrestein for the first time playing at left tackle did a solid job, was pleased with that. So, you know, if we can get a little healthier there, which we're obviously going to need, because we're going into a very physical ballgame, into the Big 10 schedule, we're going to have to have those guys up front."

On Sam McGuffie doing the splits while being tackled Saturday:

"I saw it. The field was so wet, it probably helped, gave a little bit there. I thought Sam played pretty well. Again, he made a few mistakes. But he's seeing making his reads even better each week, getting comfortable out there, which is a good thing. He's a really good competitor. But I think we can still it would be good to get Mike Shaw healthy and get him, and then maybe Carlos, Brandon Minor, Grady, so we have a little bit of depth there. It gives us a little more luxury. If those guys can stay healthy, again as I told the team yesterday, we've got to have them getting reps in practice so the coaches have confidence to put them in the game, even if they've been there for a while, because it's a new scheme. If they were veterans, been in the same scheme two or three years, I don't think it's as big of a deal. Because everybody is a rookie in the schemes, you really need to have practice to get the execution and timing down. This will be the healthiest hopefully we'll be coming into next week if we're lucky in practice."

On if Greg Mathews will practice normally this week:

"Yeah, Greg got through the game, and probably more plays than we should have played him. He played a bunch of plays. Probably hurt him there in the end. He competed pretty well. He should be good to go for this week."

On if Steven Threet is the #1 guy:

"Well, he's going to be the starter, yeah. He played well enough in that game for us to have confidence in him. Nick is still in the picture, too. Nick was in a tough situation. We were behind. I think he tried to maybe force a few things and all that. But Nick is still in our thoughts a little bit. I thought Steve competed pretty well, did a nice job out there. I think he'll keep getting better."

On if he changed anything with some of the down field throws:

"It was tough to throw. I think some of the balls kind of floated out. There's not much you can do in the second half when it's so wet. The ball got a little heavy and wet. At the same time, he made some nice throws. We just got to get him to the point where he's confident to do in the games what he's doing in practice, as far as looking receivers off, playing defenders with his eyes, all that. He can do that. He's done it in practice. I think as he plays some more, he'll keep getting better at it."

On if he plans on sticking with Steve Brown despite his mistakes:

"Yeah, well, I don't know. Some of them may not have been his mistakes and looked like his mistakes. There were a few plays I'm sure he'd like to have back. But he also did some pretty good things as well. I think Charles Stewart is probably a guy we want to play more in the secondary. He's been pretty consistent when he's had his chance in there. Brandon Harrison has been pretty consistent, too."

On Brandon Smith and Mike Williams:

"Brandon Smith had his appendix taken out last week. So he'll be on the shelf for a couple weeks. Mike is playing a lot of special teams, making a few plays. He's getting closer to playing more. He's playing some of our nickel packages, all that. We're getting more confidence. He's a young guy that's never played. Still learning some of the defenses. But he's getting a little bit closer each week."

On what he'll do to address the ball security issue fromSaturday:

"Just continue to stress it. The problem is when the one turnover Steve had, it was a wet ball, fell. I don't know what you do there other than say, catch the ball first. Then on the kickoff returns, you know, they didn't get hit. You know, just didn't catch it. Those are three unforced turnovers or unforced errors there. The one pass, we took our eye off of it. A little bit behind him. That was an unforced error. We did have one fumble, turnover. He was carrying it loose. We'll continue to stress that. But we had no turnovers the week before and six in that game. There's the difference in the game."

On Carlos Brown:

"You know, Carlos, he can play a couple positions. Obviously at quarterback, the situation in the game, the wet ball, the way we thought they were going to defend us, didn't lead to him playing more there. I still think he'll probably get more reps at runningback this week. We're also trying to teach him the slot. So depends on how much he can learn, again, how productive he'll be out there. Martavious played more than we wanted him to, but he's awful productive when he's fresh. So that's why he's out there."

On if Brown has done a good job at the quarterback position:

"Yeah. But he's very limited with what we're doing. It's not like you think he's going to line up, the guy knows everything. If you put a guy in there, all you're going to do is run right or run left, they're going to put everybody in there, load the box up. You have to have some answers for that. Not as simple as throwing him out there, okay, run this play. They can out number you. They know that. They can out number you defensively and you've got to have an answer for that. You've got to be able to execute that answer."

On if he prior to the season thought this would be a point he;d be able to get a good evaluation of the team:

"Yeah, I thought so. I probably told you all this. Maybe I didn't. But I was a little unsure exactly what we had. I had an idea. I mean, you have an idea. You practice. Again, I've been coaching for a few years. You have a little bit of an idea exactly in practice where you're at talent wise, execution wise, all that. But you don't know for sure until you play a game how the guys -- particularly the young guys, the first time starters, not just the freshmen, the first time starters -- are going to react in a game situation. You have to play a game to figure that out. Then you have to play a game on the road sometimes to figure a few things out, at least to get a few more a little bit more verification on what you think you have. After three games, I think we have it. I know where we're at. I know where we need to go. I just hope we can get there. That doesn't make it any easier. It's not we're going to all of a sudden turn around. I said this before, some of the problems we have didn't happen overnight and they're not going to be solved overnight. You're not going to solve inexperience in just three games. You're not going to get faster in just eight months. You'll get a little faster. But, you know, you got I know what our problems are. Now we got to try to fix them as fast as we can."

On if he has seen many Big Ten teams play:

"Obviously I've watched Wisconsin. That's just in the last day and a half. So, you know, obviously we'll watch a lot of it this week and as the Big 10 season goes along. It's the same as evaluating any opponent. This week is a little bit about Wisconsin, a lot about us, trying to fix our problems, what we can fix. Some will take a little bit more time. But hopefully, you know, as I told the team, we've got a lot of things that are easily correctable, for not just the last game but the last three games. If we can fix those things, we'll be a lot better football team."

On the return game:

"The return game? We're still evaluating. That's a big part of what we're doing this week. Our kick returns, obviously that unit really hurt us. I mean, just catching the ball first. We missed a lot of blocks. Then on punt return, Donovan, he dropped one. But he's been pretty consistent catching the ball. But we do have some guys some have been hurt and some of them we were ready to put back there, and they were just coming off defense or something. That's kind of stunted our growth. But, boy, anybody can figure out we've got to fix up our kick return unit. I mean, it was just awful. We'll work every day from now. The returners that are catching kicks, every day we practice, till the day they graduate, they will catch kicks (laughter). If that doesn't solve it, I mean, we'll keep rotating guys that will catch kicks."

On Terrence Robinson:

"Terrance is a guy that's obviously been off and probably would have been able to help us in some things. He'll be limited this week. The hope with Terrence is that he'll be able to practice next week. That would be a nice plus because Terrence, he was going to play. He was ready the first game, till he had that injury."

On if Robinson is the second slot receiver:

"Yes. Well, he and Toney Clemons were kind of in the mix. But Terrence made quite a few plays. Every day he was getting better and better. So it was really unfortunate it happened. But hopefully he'll be back in the mix here quickly."

On if there were any new injuries on Saturday:

"No, nothing serious. The bad part about a sloppy game, especially in the second half, it's hard to execute, all this. The good part is usually those kind of games you don't get a lot of high speed collisions, guys nicked up. We came out of the game healthy."

On where this team is at this point:

"And that's a fair question. It's a deep rooted answer I have to give you that I don't think I can explain. Some of the stuff that we know as coaches, in Schembechler Hall, we're working on. Some of it's obviously you see there. Like I said, you can't get experience overnight. You slowly get it each game. We need to get faster in some areas. We've got to execute better. That's our job as coaches, to get them to do that. But there are other things that I've been really pleased about. You know, I realize that every time you say something, you make a comment, sometimes not maybe just a reporter, but somebody will take it and make a big deal out of it, like saying Michigan football will be back. Well, what do you mean by that? What I mean is that this program has had a lot of success by playing error free football, playing tough and physical, not beating yourselves. And those are things that we can do immediately. That doesn't mean that automatically you're going to win championships like we're accustomed to in the past. But those things that we can get corrected immediately. To answer to your question, obviously we've got to get a little bit better in all phases, in all three phases, and we've got to execute better. The sky's not falling. I can tell you this: There's a lot of positive things going on, too, that maybe the outside people, people that are outside our building, don't see as far as the work ethic, the steps that we're making. But I've been through this before, so I'm not like I said, I'm disappointed that we lost two games, but I'm not discouraged because there's too many things I see internally that are going to lead to some pretty neat things in the future. I'll leave it at that."

On the team's attitude:

"Yeah, it's been good. Again, I told you all and I told the team before, there's going to be some adversity. If you thought there wasn't going to be, you know, you're not really paying attention to where our program's at, the people that we lost. Are you kidding me? You know, we don't have a bunch of three and four year starters that have been through this, been there, done that, rally the troops. So that's what the coaches are going to do. But their attitude, I think they're understanding. I want them to be ticked off after they lose. I want them to understand how we're going to work, how we're going to press forward, do all the things we're supposed to do to have a successful program. We'll be unwavering in that regard. But, you know, also I don't want them after 24 hours to be hanging their heads down low, walking around moping, all that kind of stuff. Twenty-four hours is over, time to get back to work, we press on."

On when he'll get a ruling on Carson Butler:

"We'll find out. I'm not overly concerned with it. I mean, shouldn't have done it. Lack of poise. He apologized. We'll move on. If he doesn't play in the first half of next game, then we got other guys that will do it."

On Kevin Grady:

"You know, Kevin, he's a guy that really works hard in practice. He's willing to do whatever it takes to help us have success. He likes competing. He's had an outstanding attitude. I think he knows he made a mistake. He paid the price for it. But he's working hard right now to try to help us any way he can. That's one thing I've been pleased about with the team. I don't mind the guys having individual goals, but they've got to understand they're all part of something bigger than themselves. I think we're slowly getting there. Are we there a hundred percent right now? No. But who would be after eight months? Eventually they'll all have that mindset. We're a lot further along on that than we were earlier, and I really feel that our guys are starting at least I'm preaching enough that they're starting to say, hey, we are coming together in a lot of ways that maybe you don't even see."

On Steven Threet stepping up and moving past Nick Sheridan:

"You know, to be honest with you, I wanted both of them to progress even faster. But I guess it's probably a lack of patience on my part of wanting them to play at this level. You know, I've been spoiled because I've had so many good ones that have played at that level. But if I go back and look back when they first played, they probably didn't play at that high level. Again, I've got to step back sometimes a little bit. Also, I have to understand everybody looks at the quarterback, Steve, how many guys have been thrown into that situation with so many new guys around them playing? I'm not talking about runningbacks, but look at the O line. You got four guys starting for the first time in front of him. You have new starters on the perimeter around him. You know, it's not an easy situation. If you had an inexperienced quarterback coming in with eight or nine other returning starters, it would be a little different. That's not excuses. That's just what it is. You all have seen that. It didn't matter who the guy taking the snaps is, he was going to be surrounded by a lot of other guys still learning their way around. This is the only time we'll go through it. We got one senior on offense, Mike Massey. That's it. You won't go through it no matter what the situation is. In the next three, four, five years, you'll never have a situation where you have this many guys that are new first time starters on offense. That's a good thing, but it doesn't help me right now. I've been proud of the way they've come together. It's not easy to do that, particularly with a new scheme. But they're getting it slowly."

On the best time to decide when to burn a player's redshirt:

"It's really about this time. We'll talk about this week of what freshmen do we know for sure we want to redshirt. Sometimes it may be midseason and you unfortunately have to burn a redshirt. You just need a guy out there to help you win. Obviously you're building a program first before you build a team. But at the same time, to be fair to your seniors, you don't want to sacrifice I never believe you sacrifice that for your seniors, if a guy can help you win right away. Some of the freshmen, we have a pretty good idea. But there are guys, like Terrence Robinson, that we'll evaluate in the next two weeks. If we think he can help us win games this year and progress, then we'll play him right away. Some guys we know we're going to redshirt, pretty much know we're going to redshirt right away. We have a couple linemen, like Ricky Barnum and Pat Omameh, who have been getting some reps and even traveling a little bit. We want to redshirt those guys. But if it gets to a point injury wise next couple of weeks or progression wise that we've got to play them to win, then we'll play them."

On Kevin Koger:

"Same thing. He's a guy that may be able to help us right away. But if we can certainly get a redshirt, we can do that. That would be good for his future."

On if Brandon Smith will redshirt:

"More than likely. Again, I don't know how many weeks he's going to be out with having his appendix taken out. He was a candidate to be redshirted anyway. But that certainly set him back and may be the best thing for him. Before we always do that, though, we'll sit down and talk to the guys a little bit. They usually know. I mean, they can figure it out."

On Cory Zirbel's progress:

"More than likely it's a season ending thing. But we'll just kind of wait and see on that."

On if he has ever taken a hit on the sideline like Charlie Weis did:

"No. And I didn't see that at all. I heard about it. But it can be dangerous down there. More so on special teams because the ball may be down there, and there may still be guys down behind you. We always have get-back guys. In fact, our get-back guy, big Jon Falk, took a hit himself a few years ago, I guess. It was at an Iowa game or something. He gave the old thumbs up while he was getting carted off the field. Big Jon's been through it. In a lot of stadiums we play in, even ours, it's kind of tight down there. Sometimes you can't get out of the way. You turn around, there's a mass of people behind you. Those guys move pretty good."

On the excessive celebration penalty called on Washington a few weeks ago and how he handles celebrations with his team:

"I saw the highlights. We showed them a film before the season on a point of emphasis from the NCAA, the officials, what they're going to call as far as excessive celebration. We showed the tapes of the guys, about handing the ball to the officials. I thought that was a little bit of an error in judgment as far as calling it. The guy, I don't think he was drawing attention to himself. He got excited, scored a game-tying touchdown, threw the ball up, went and hugged the teammates. Even though by the letter of the law, they could have called it, I think, in my opinion, you could have used better judgment and not called it, particularly in that situation because he wasn't showing anybody up. You know, official threw the flag and they pointed to the rule book for verification. And they're allowed to do that, I guess."

On if he questioned some calls in the Notre Dame game:

"Yeah, there's a few that I questioned. I don't know the policy because it's Big East officials. I'm sure every coach has a few he'd like to call in every week. But I don't know what the resource is on that because they're not league officials, they're Big East guys."

On if McGuffie will be able to physically handle carrying the ball 25 times per game this year:

"I would think so. I mean, I don't think any back can carry that many times a season at this level. With our bunch of backs we have, that's probably more than would be normal. But there were a few times he was really feeling it. We were going fast. He was getting three or four in a row. But he's in shape to do that. But I think all of our backs are."

On what he likes most about McGuffie:

"Well, I mean, obviously he's got some natural ability as far as being able to get a burst through a hole. The thing you're teaching the young guys is how to make your reads, how to press a block. He's still got some things to do in the open field, trusting his speed. But he's a good football player."

On if the chop block called on Dave Molk was a good call:

"I don't think so. That's a point of emphasis though. That was a big penalty. The point of emphasis, that was one of the rules, that you can't post cut a guy. You can't hit a guy high, get a high-low. Actually what was happening, he was going low, but the guy was actually grabbing our guard. Our guard wasn't even blocking him. It wasn't a simultaneous post cut. I didn't think it was a penalty. But, again, I don't know. That's my opinion. I don't know what you do about that."

On John Ferrara's progress:

"John is a guy that has been playing right guard. He's been there for a few weeks now. We're going to see if he's learned enough he can play left guard as well, give us some competition there. We would like to try to get him in the game. He's a tough guy. He's a great young man; very unselfish. We have got to try to see if we can get him ready to play. Hopefully this open week will allow us to do that."

On if Huyge's return allows Ferrara to be moved around:

"I don't know if he's going to be a hundred percent this week, but hopefully next week will allow that. We need to have some competition at several positions, not just at guard. Getting the guys back will allow us to have that."


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