Post Game: Rodriguez Looking Ahead to OSU

Rich Rodriguez reacts to his team's 21-14 loss to Northwestern. Michigan's headman discussed quarterblack play, injuries, Carlos Brown, the rivalry game with Ohio State, and more. The complete transcript.

Question:  Did you get to see Donovan Warren's interception to see if he stepped out?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No I haven't seen anything with that and we'll watch it on film.  It's disappointing.  We take a step forward and take a step back.  I don't think it's from lack of effort; it's just that we're not good enough to play poorly at times and have spots we're not playing well and overcome it.  Today was kind of a same scenario as several other games this year."

Question:  Can you talk about the impact of special teams on a day like that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We thought going in and I'm sure they did too, but the ball security and wind and kicking against it and with the wind would have effect.  I don't know what happened on the first kick, our first field goal.  If he just didn't get it up high.  It didn't seem like there was a guy coming free and then the same thing with Zoltan's (Mesko) punt.  I don't think it was a missed block, I just don't think we got it up high.  That ball was hard to handle.  It was really wet, but it was wet for both teams."

Question:  Was a little surprising that Northwestern came out of the locker room went to the air game as much as they did in the second half?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We thought they would probably come out of the game doing that.  Even with the wind that they would go some no backs, some up tempo and throw it around a little bit.  What was disappointing was the two big plays, particularly the touchdown play.  I've got to watch the film and see what happened, was it a blown coverage or what on that."

Question:  What did you tell the seniors in the locker room after the game?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I told them they shouldn't hang their heads.  From what I've seen they gave great effort.  They've done a lot for this football program and I told everybody in the locker room they should hug the seniors and thank them and then put all your energy into getting ready for the next weekend."

Question:  What was Steve Threet's injury?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think he took…from what the trainer said, I think he took a blow to the head and something with his knee too.  We were banging around a little bit and they were banged up too, but Carlos (Brown) got nicked here and there, (Michael) Shaw got nicked here and there.  (Brandon) Minor was out.  This late in the season those things are going to happen."

Question:  Is this one especially disappointing because you felt like you were making progress last week?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  Yeah it's disappointing; I mean they're all disappointing.  I think they're equally disappointing.  Today's was a little different.  Every week is a little type of adversity that young guys face.  Today it was the weather a little bit.  They had to face that adversity, but it's the same for both teams.  That's not an excuse.  I think every week you hope your young players will grow from some kind of experience.  If there is any positive, hopefully we can grow and learn from the mistakes we made in this week."

Question:  I know you've had about four seconds to think about this, but Steve's had two shots in the head in three or four weeks...

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah and I don't know what the significance of this one.  I didn't think that he got hit in the head.  Again, I'm not a medical person, so I couldn't tell the effect or what it was.  He didn't seem like it was affecting him anyways at that.  Nick was still in the game.  We had an opportunity at the end; we just didn't make the play when we had to."

Question:  What do you see for the future of the quarterback position?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Really keep getting better.  Obviously, we're going to recruit competition at every position.  I think our quarterbacks have made some steps and some strides.  I don't think we played as well today in that position that we had the last couple of weeks.  Again, it was a tougher day for those guys because of the conditions, but we had played better the other couple of weeks than we had today, but they'll keep getting better I believe.  This is just the first year in the system so every year should be a little better for them."

Question:  Was the weather worse in the second half?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No not really.  I thought it rained harder in the first half than the second half, but the wind maybe picked up a little bit in the second half."

Question:  Nick struggled to get a rhythm; how much of that was his (because of his own mistakes) and how much of that was weather?

Coach Rodriguez:  "The weather played a little factor for both teams.  I was disappointed we missed on some of our blocks, just from the side it looks like we missed some of our cutoff blocks on the back side.  We made a few more zone runs that we thought would have popped out of there and just missed then on the backside a little bit.  Again, I got to watch film to determine more.  I can tell you more about that tomorrow."

Question:  With Carlos how pleased were you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I thought he ran pretty well.  He gave us a pretty good lift.  I think he got excited on that last run.  It looked like he had a lane and he kind of tripped over his own feet.  I thought he ran pretty hard and it was good; we needed him in there.  (Sam) McGuffie couldn't go.  His knee was bothering him, so he was out.  Minor was out.  Shaw got banged up.  So it was up to Carlos and we thought he ran pretty well."

Question:  With only one game left in the season how would you rate your performance?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We are what our record says we are.  That is what everybody tells you on it.  Again, I would like to think that we're making progress Sunday through Friday and it aint showing up on Saturday like we want it to, but eventually it will.  Everybody is going to judge you on your record and that's fair, that's part of the profession.  I do think we're making some steps that will eventually show up on game days."

Question:  You went to Penn State on the road, big game, they were ranked real high and you played a good first half.  Was that something that you can build on for Ohio State?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think we have to build on a lot of things.  Obviously we have got a great challenge and it shouldn't be hard to get your players excited to play in a big game such as the Ohio State game, just as won't be hard to get their players excited.  The key for us is to be excited and to play well and execute well.  We have to play very well.  Being in that environment and having a little bit of experience in different places on the road for our young guys this year, at least have some experience in it.  Again, it's the last game of the year, so they've got 11 games of experience."

Question:  Ohio State will be favored this week; will you play off that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No, not really.  Whose favorite and whose not, its still 0-0 when you kick off, but I do think our players realize that they've got an outstanding football team and what a great challenge it is.  I think you got to understand that, but that's going to be easy because I'm sure all week that our guys have no chance."

Question:  Have you been in a situation where you're clearly going to be the underdog in a rivalry game?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I probably have before.  I really don't think…I don't think too much about the past.  I only worry about what's happening right now and that's all I want our players to focus on.  What's going on right now.  What do we have to tomorrow to get better.  What do we have to do Monday, Tuesday and throughout the rest of the week to get better.  While preparing for them, we also got to get our stuff to work.  Things that we made mistakes today, we got to correct."

Question:  Do you look at it…I don't know if salvage is the right word, but it is your last game of the season where it could be?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah there's no question, we play well and happen to win that one, it won't salvage the whole season but it certainly will make you feel a little better, because of the rivalry and all that and all the frustration that we've had this year, you'll be able to get some of that out if you can play well and have success in that game."

Question:  You mention that your players will be told they don't have any chance; they will be told that all week that they don't have any chance.  Why would they have any chance?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well I think its 0-0 when you start, that's why.  If their favored by whatever and they're up 21 nothing before you kick off the first inning that's kind of tough.  It's 0-0 when you start and we have some young guys and they have some young guys, but I would like to think that our players will go down there and give tremendous effort.  I will be shocked and disappointed if we didn't play as hard as they've ever played in their careers.  I expect that out of every play, every game, but this is a game as a coach that I shouldn't have to preach that or try to instill that in them.  I would think that they would do that being it is Michigan-Ohio State."

Question:  What would a win next week mean to you personally?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It would be great for our seniors more than anything and again, it'll make me feel better than I am right now."

Question:  What are your thoughts on the contributions of Ricky Reyes and Michael Williams?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, Ricky is a guy that is on some special team play and he has got a great energy for that.  Mike Williams has been a guy that has been banged up a little bit, but he's a guy that has made a lot of special team plays for us.  We've got a lot of walk-ons that are contributing like Ricky and John Conover and I've been proud of them.  We still got to get better in a lot of phases in special teams, I think it's solid.  I don't think it's dominating, but I think it's solid and we can grow from it."

Question:  You knew this would be a transitional year, but (Michigan with an) eight loss season for the first time; how tough is that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's tough.  Every loss is tough.  When you lose as much as we've lost this year, it's extremely difficult.  I know the fans are frustrated and a lot of them are disappointed, but so are we.  I don't think anybody is more frustrated or disappointed then the coaches and the players are.  We're going to stay the course.  We feel confident with what we're doing.  We know it's going to happen and hopefully sooner rather than later.  Is it going to take longer than maybe everybody wants, especially us as coaches, but we'll get there.  We just got to keep pressing forward."

Question:  Are you kind of looking at this as (season as part of a bigger) picture and in your mind represents the picture?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Sure, I think you got to do that.  As I said all year, I don't want our guys to concede anything this year.  It's the first year and there is some changes here and there but we can't deter from pressing forward and doing the things that we believe in. I mean there is a lot of things that we feel that we can get better at and some of them were already underway and some of them will take a little more time, but I think we have the plan to (get it done)."

Question:  On whether he was disappointed so many fans left at halftime.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Naw, I really appreciate our fans coming out the way they did today.  In a game where we're having a bad season and the weather is as bad as it is this time of the year, to have as many fans show up as we did, I think it's terrific.  When were playing in the future, games this late that have a lot of meaning in conference races and so on and so forth, I think it would be easy for them to stay.  Today was a tough one for them to stay.  If we're playing better and we're playing well, I think (there wouldn't be) an empty seat in there.  So it's our job to put a team out there that everybody can be proud of and see.  But I thought that the turnout by the fans today was outstanding considering everything and I think we'll get to the point where they'll be clamoring over each other to get a seat."

Question:  On preparing for Terrelle Pryor.

Coach Rodriguez:  "We've got to have a good plan and play it better than we did against the running quarterbacks earlier this year.  Pryor, I haven't watched a lot of film on him, but I've watched some in some film exchange, and he's an explosive athlete.  One on one he is a very dangerous, so we will have to have a good plan on defense."

Question:  Are you interested in seeing for this Michigan-Ohio State game; you interested in seeing what it's about; I'm sure you know about it?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm not worried about whatever the so called pageantry or – I'm just worried about the game.  When preparing for a game…I understand the intensity and the rivalry is as good as or better than any place in college football. It's exciting, but our single mindedness or focus is preparing for that ballgame, what we got to do to try and win it."

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