Coach Rodriguez: "I would like to tell you guys that things looked okay at halftime, but they didn't. Wow, that was probably….there is no panic. I will tell you that at halftime and we just tried to make some corrections, but if there was a hole to crawl in to, I am sure a bunch of us, including myself would run and crawl in that hole. We didn't, we hung in there with the guys. The guys did a tremendous job oin defense, keeping us in and that is why I felt at halftime we still had a chance because our defense was playing so well. If we could just get a first down on offense and get a little bit of rhythm, get excited, we had a chance. We got a few plays in the second half, the big turnover by JT (John Thompson) then our offense got a few big plays. It's just a great win. I am so proud of these young men. I think the way they worked in the summer, the way they worked during camp with conditioning, I think it showed. I think our guys…obviously the crowd helped us in the second half. We had a little bounce in our step in the fourth quarter and pulled off a great win. We can enjoy it for 24 hours and then get ready for the next one."
Question: Coach, you have a young team and you talked about that all year. When that team suddenly got a one point lead and now you got these young guys with a lead against a top ten team, where you nervous to see how they would react?
Coach Rodriguez: "Not really. The only thing after we got the lead is make sure we didn't get a penalty for guys celebrating, getting on the field. Even then, they have a big powerful team, even though they are a running team predominately. Their quarterback is an experienced guy, they have some explosive receivers and tight ends. We knew that we had to keep playing. Even after we got the eight point lead, we had to keep playing. We had to keep playing even after they scored. That is why I am proud of our defense. They played all the way to the end and obviously with stopping the two point conversion. I don't think our guy….would like to have gotten a first down to kill the clock and we were close to it, but we didn't want to make a big mistake down at that end and make a short field for them. It is a big win for us obviously."
Question: Can you talk about what the defense did in the first half?
Coach Rodriguez: "To overtake that many sudden change opportunities and five turnovers and just to give up field goals most of the time and to hang in there, was tremendous. It gave us a chance. The way we played offensively in the first half and with special teams, we should have been down by a lot more. That was as frustrated, as I have ever been in my coaching career with the offense and special teams. At the same time, there wasn't any panic on the coaches. We have seen some similar situations, nothing like that, but we have been in some similar holes in the past and fortunately we were able to get out of it."
Question: Can you talk about how a young team can improve over a bye week?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, you couldn't have told in the first half could ya. You think an improvement, you lost the first half, and although the crowd got a little restless, you thought we were sleeping for the last two weeks. That was the frustrating part, we had some good practices and we felt that we had some opportunities, but we just did not execute at all. I would like to tell you that there were times that we were close, but we really wasn't even close at times in the first half. In the second half when we hit a few passes, loosened things up a little bit and then Steve (Threet) started making some good decisions. You know, Steve is getting better, but he pressed it a little bit. Steve didn't make as many good decisions, as he is accustomed to, but he hung in there. He did a nice job in the second half, made a couple of nice plays, a couple of nice throws. When you get that rhythm going it perpetuates itself."
Question: What made you stay with Steve?
Coach Rodriguez: "Well he is our best one. I think he has proven that in practice and he is proven that in games. Nick (Sheridan) is still a good player, but I thought….Steve knew what he was doing as far as the decisions go and there was some technical, why the ball was sailing. We had him dip his front shoulder a little bit and he had to just relax and hit some passes, because we thought some things were there. Even in the second half, there was maybe a couple of big plays that we just missed. (Greg) Mathews on one and Brandon Minor on another, but even just narrowly missing them gives you a little bit of hope that we can make a big play."
Question: In the second half did you try some things differently tactically too?
Coach Rodriguez: "Naw, I mean we added a little kind of a slant and up route; we didn't hit it, but I think we added a few wrinkles here and there, but it was nothing really that we hadn't worked on. It was just a matter of execution and that is the way it is. The way they were playing, it didn't surprise us at all. That was the most frustrating thing, is that if they came out with an entirely different game plan after two weeks and we had to have adjustment with all the young lineman and all that would be different, but it wasn't that. Our guys knew where they were going, knew what they were doing, we just weren't blocking, weren't executing, making the right decisions."
Question: Did you hear the fans booing at halftime?
Coach Rodriguez: "Did I hear them?"
Coach Rodriguez: "If you were in the Ann Arbor vicinity you heard them (laughter). I mean holy cow anybody would have heard that. I know the fans are frustrated. They want to play at a high level here and that is okay. I hope, they weren't booing…I have always said this, I hope they aren't booing the kids, they boo the coaches. We have to take it as coaches. I know they were probably upset at a play or two. Obviously, we have to play better. I didn't see a lot of people leave. That was the thing, I am tickled to death. Sometimes you play that poorly and you get down that hole, a lot of people exit – not at the Big House. They hung in their and they were all there at the end."
Question: Did Steve give you a little Pat White flashback there on that 60 yard run?
Coach Rodriguez: "Well he surprised a lot of people, maybe even himself, taking off. Steve can run a little bit. He is not a blazer but he gets those long legs going. We were going to call another quarterback run and I told Calvin (Magee) that we better let him rest for about three snaps, because I saw him breathing pretty heavily. I said, I think we need to let him catch his breath, but that was a huge play, changing the field, obviously getting that touchdown."
Question: A lot of the guys mentioned conditioning out there. Is that has been a big difference for you so far?
Coach Rodriguez: "I think so. It is not just the shape. I think it is also a mindset. The way we practice, ours guys obviously in the summer do it on their own, but the way we practice lends itself to I think to getting in shape, better shape as the season goes along. Sometimes it takes a win like this maybe can prove that, verify that. That hey, the reason we run so much and our practices is up tempo is so the games are easier. I think that helped today."
Question: Can you talk about your decision to play Kevin (Koger) this week and how he responded?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah we were going back and forth; we were thinking about redshirting him. Every day in practice you can see him making improvements and he was learning the things. Kevin is a very, very intelligent player for a freshman and he made the big catch for a touchdown. Obviously he is going to play the rest of the year. We are excited about it."
Question: During the two pointer at the end of the game, could you see that there was an ineligible receiver?
Coach Rodriguez: "I thought it was a motion penalty, because they were scrambling to get lined up and I didn't think that the guy got set when they went in motion, before they went in motion. That was obviously a big play. I thought our defense was right there on that last drive with an opportunity to bat the ball down and they executed. Again, you got to play all the way to the end."
Question: On What this game means.
Coach Rodriguez: "Well it gives us some confidence. You're 1-0 in the Big Ten is where you want to be. We got a long stretch ahead of us, but I think more than anything, it gives us some confidence, get a little bounce in our step and gives those guys a little bit of feeling, ‘hey we can be down because we are going to have more adversity, a lot more adversity.' To never quit that is the thing I am most proud about – they didn't quit. There was a time when it looked like, if you were of lesser mind you would have, but they didn't and they hung in there and battled the second half."
Question: You mentioned how frustrated you were at halftime…
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I was frustrated."
Question: …and the boos and everything. So to come back like this in your first Big Ten game, what does that mean to you?
Coach Rodriguez: "They weren't booing the team. It means that everybody wants to see a high level of play and everybody likes to win. I think more than anything…even our seniors, they are young men. They are 20, 21, 22; they're not professionals and if a guy drops a ball or he fumbles something, they aren't doing it on purpose. Sometimes obviously fundamentals we got to get better at that. As coaches, I think the thing that maybe I am as proud of is that sometimes we have a half that bad particularly offensively, you may see coaches kind of sniping at each other, think the sky is falling but not on this staff. Obviously most the coaches on offense, we have been together a long time. It was just, we were frustrated, but we knew what the answers that we had to do and at halftime we calmly went over some things and hung in there."
Question: Offensive line you reshuffled again, why did you start (John) Ferrara and what did you see?
Coach Rodriguez: "We thought John had obviously practiced well enough and I don't know. I will have to watch the film to see how those guys performed and how they graded out, but he is a tough guy, he is a bigger guy and we knew that we were going to need some size up there. Moving (Tim) McAvoy to tackle. It was good that we had (Mark) Ortmann back, because (Perry) Dorrenstein was hurt and he couldn't play at left tackle. I am hoping unless somebody was nicked up in this game, which I don't think, we can have all those guys healthy for the next one."
Question: What was (Carson) Butler's status for this game?
Coach Rodriguez: "He was there, but he didn't play much at tight end. We started (Mike) Massey and played Koger. Carson played on some special teams."
Question: Is he healthy?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he is healthy."
Question: How much do you preach this week, we got to keep the pedal to the metal?
Coach Rodriguez: "I think that is the way we approach every practice. Whether we win, whether we lose, whether it's an open week, whether it is a Big Ten game or not, we take the same mindset as far as work ethic in every practice. We hope that the players understand that. They all count as one and as nice as this one is, after tomorrow evening, then we have to move on to the next one. We will enjoy it for 24 hours and then we got to get ready to get ready to go for another ranked team."
Question: Rich have you ever been through something like this?
Coach Rodriguez: "I have been down…I was asking my wife Rita; we were down 17 points to Louisville, high ranked Louisville team, I don't know three to four years ago, and came back and won in a couple of overtimes. It was like 17 to nothing at halftime and this one was really kind of gloomy (laughter). The sun was out, but I was gloomy."
Question: Coach how do you do that, I mean you guys don't score until late in the third quarter…I mean everybody I talked to on the field said, we knew were going to win.
Coach Rodriguez: "They might be lying to you (laughter). I don't know about that. At half, there wasn't guys ranting and raving at halftime. A couple of them were upset and the seniors obviously wanted to get things cranked up, but I didn't see a sense of panic and sometimes being younger or inexperienced, they're not going to panic. Maybe you get a bunch of seniors and they're not playing well or not executing, they start to panic a little bit, but these guys hadn't been through anything, good or bad. So when they were coming off the field, it wasn't like they were on the sidelines thinking about something else. It was a good lesson for us to teach off of. I surely (to) heck don't want to go through that again, the first half playing like that. I know that there is going to be more adversity. Let's face it. We are going to have a lot of growing pains this year. I know that and I don't want to have them as painful as the first half, but we will take this one and move on."
Question: The crowd was booing in the first half; how important were they to your comeback?
Coach Rodriguez: "Oh, when you get whatever it is, 100 some thousand and people say that the noise is not…it is pretty loud. You get 100,000 cranked up and getting into the game; it lifts those guys up. It puts a little bounce in your step. To sit here and say they don't make an impact, they do. They make an tremendous impact, especially when our defense is on the field and they can make some noise, make it harder to communicate, which I think caused a couple of penalties in the second half. I thought they were tremendous. My hats off to them and again, they all stayed. I really, really appreciate the crowd staying and hanging in there with us."
Question: Were you expecting Travis Beckum to play in this game? He came in right at the end.
Coach Rodriguez: "I thought he was going to play the whole time, expecting him the whole time."
Question: When you break down the whole game, including the first half, will see signs of progress in Threet in the offense?
Coach Rodriguez: "Particularly in the second half; I didn't see any in the first half. I didn't see progress of anything offensively in the first half. That is not going to be a fun; however many plays we ran that is not going to be a fun film session tomorrow on the first half. The second half, again, we hit a few things and there was still a few things in the second half that we didn't execute and we got to get those done. It is a long stretch left in front of us. If we don't execute better offensively we don't have a chance."