Q. Can you give us an update on Brandon (Minor) and Steve (Threet)?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yes, Steven Threet had an injury which I didn't know until after the game. But it's more of a slight separation of the shoulder or a shoulder thing, so he is doubtful. We're really going to see how he can respond to the next 48 hours.
Nick is fine, Sheridan. He got banged up a little bit, but he's good to go. And Brandon Minor is a lot better. We think he should be able to go.
Brandon's such a tough guy if there's a chance. We've got to make sure he can protect himself and do all of that.
So we think Minor will be better. Steve is doubtful. I think those were the major ones.
Q. Is McGuffie banged up a little bit?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, Sam McGuffie had a death in the family, so his availability will be questioned, too. So he maybe have to go home to attend to that.
Q. Did he have any kind of a knee injury?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I thought for some reason we were told at the time, but it was the shoulder. It wasn't a head issue either.
Q. Maybe you haven't had a chance to think about it, but did you think the refurbishing or was the cupboard more bare than you thought? What was your feeling? I know you said coming in you're going to compete every week and try to win?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, and there's more work to do than I anticipated. I think the local guys that cover this every week have heard me say that. There's more things we have to do and we'll continue to do.
I mean, we're losing not a big senior class, but some valuable players there. There's always going to be more attrition. The first couple of years in transition is more difficult. It's not just year one, but year one and year two. Usually by year three and four you have more of, I guess, your personality and your other things in place.
But our guys are at least hanging in there and trying to compete and get better. But it's been a longer, tougher process, I guess, in the last whatever it is, ten months, than I think we anticipated. But, again, we're not overburdened by it. I think every day I evaluate every situation, and we're identifying our problems and our issues. Some of them are going to take a little bit more time to solve, I think, than originally anticipated. But I do feel confident we'll get it done.
Q. How much better are Nick and Steve than before the season started, and have they gotten have they made as much progress as you hoped for?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think we're probably more optimistic than normal as far as their progress. I think they have made progress and played better. I think Steve getting banged up a little bit maybe injured him some. But Nick didn't play as well in the last game as he did the game before that. But I think we have made progress.
As coaches, we want to see more. But, again, I think we always expect more, too, as coaches. I'm proud of the way, given the first year starters and playing for the first time in this system. So I think they've grasped it pretty well mentally and they've executed better. But this would be the biggest challenge.
Q. What do you see for them in that position going forward in 2009? Do you see one of them opening the year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, everything is wide open. I know it sounds like coach speak, but, you know, we need to create more competition and oppositions. I think we have that on our team.
Again, there's going to be some attrition with some graduation, and maybe some underclassmen. I hope they all stay, but if they don't, you know, we have some attrition there. We'll build our roster to the point where we have competition in every position.
Quarterback's no exception. Whoever the best quarterbacks are come next, whenever we play next September, will be the starters. I'm hoping we'll have a couple at each position.
Part of the problem we have now is we don't have that type of competition in every position. And eventually, when you build a program up, you know, you have fourthyear and fifthyear and thirdyear players. You know, you're twodeep and a handful of young guys that are sprinkled in there. We're not at that point right now, but we'll be there eventually.
Q. From the beginning you said offensively Michigan may struggle this year. Has it been as much of a struggle as you thought or more?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: It's been more of a struggle, I think, in all areas than we anticipated. I think that's pretty obvious. But there's also been some times where, you know, I knew after the spring game that, boy, this could be tough at times. We've got to be lucky.
You know, there is always some luck involved. You've got to try to make more luck. But us not being able to get the continuity and the consistency and some of it is obviously staying healthy and getting guys in the right spot which is the coach's job. We've been close at times, too.
I'm disappointed but I'm not discouraged. I've got a lot of confidence in our offensive coaches and what we're doing. Obviously, I've known the system. I've done the system for a long time.
So some of it is we can address and get some of that depth and competition in recruiting. And some of it is we've simply got to get bigger and stronger.
We're not strong enough and fast enough like we need to be to compete for championships. But with our strength program and with recruiting I know we can get there.
Q. Can you talk about the defense this year, there were a couple of games where they got a lot of points. Is that because the offense is putting more pressure on the defense?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Little bit. There have been times where our offense has turned the ball. Early in the year particularly when we turned the ball over and put our defense in tough situations. But there have been other times where we've been a little disappointed in our defense as well.
And, again, it's part of all the things we're evaluating and looking at them. When you're offense is playing well and scoring points and controlling the game, it helps. Like the last Minnesota game, our offense could control the ball pretty well. Our defense played the ball, too.
There have been points where I've played all three different phases. But there have also been times where I've been encouraged about the future, too. So I have to look at all of that.
My job as a coach is to look at what can we do to get better. That's future stuff. As much as I still think about some of that now, there is so much on our plate getting ready for this game that my focus right now is predominantly on what we've got to do to compete with Ohio State. And in the background, you know, what lies in the future.
Q. Is there part of a game that you can show your team if you play at this level, you'll have a good shot?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: There are portions of it. Well, you know, there were times in the Penn State game. I thought coming out of that tough environment it was a very good team. I mean, we played at least in the first two and a half or something, you know, like I want our program to play, so to speak.
On offense, defense, playing physical. Not playing perfect, but making some plays. You know, playing the type of football that I would hope to see on every snap.
Then there were a lot of times in the Minnesota game, and it was moments in a lot of games, even in the last game where our defense was playing with the type of execution that, you know, if you want to be a very good team you do that all the time. You may have a lapse or player or two here or there. But the speed and the execution and intensity is there all the time.
You know, I'm lucky because I've been part of some of that in my career. I can sense it when it's there. I can sense it when it's there in the program, I can sense it on the team. It feeds on itself. Eventually I can say when you get to that point every year, you just recycle that.
People say it's harder to stay at the top or get to the top. I've said it before. I've been at the bottom. I've been in both places. It's easier when you're up there. You've still got to work and make sure you're doing that. But to get to that point, which is our challenge as coaches and players in the program, we've got a little ways to go. That's pretty obvious. There's a little ways to go to it.
It's not like we've got bad guys. Our guys aren't being bad guys. They're trying and all of that. But we're just not playing as fast and consistently and executing as well as a championship team would. Now Saturday will be a great time to do that.
Q. What have you learned about yourself as a coach and as a person?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I've learned. I think you've got to keep learning. There's probably a lot of fans that think I'm dumber than I was a year ago or two years ago, back when we were winning games. I'd like to think I'm smarter. We showed up on Saturdays. I think you've got to learn a little about personality, about your place. I've learned more about this place. I learned a whole lot more about our team which I think is important your team, your staff.
You know, obviously you've got to learn to have thick skin. But I learned that a long time ago with coaches. The last ten months, even before I started the season we've learned the effect it can have on your family, and the things that you've got deal with as a coach.
This is a public position. It's not like a politician, I'm not running for office. I mean, God bless them. They choose to have that public scrutiny. As coaches, we know it's part of the job, but we don't choose to have it. Most of us would rather not.
But the biggest thing that is disappointing is when somebody, not necessarily the media, but when a fan or somebody would make it personal to your coach or to your players. Especially to the players, because those guys are amateurs. When they would make a personal comment or say something that's not related to coaching or not related to playing.
I don't get on message boards. I don't think anybody, any of our players or family should. But it's amazing some of the things that people would say or amazing things people will yell at you of a personal nature. You almost want to tell them get a life. I mean, there's a whole lot bigger problems. You lose a ballgame, and then you look at the economy or after every game I usually get to meet one of our veterans or somebody. You know, to take it personal on a coach or player to me, I don't think it's ever right.
But I'm glad fans have passion, but it's still kind of I guess a lot more bolder. You all would know. It's a lot more bolder what people would say and write. Not you all, but bloggers or whatever, than it used to be. We've seen it coming for a few years.
Full Transcript: Coach Rod on The Program
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