Rich Rod Carries Excitement into Spring

Michigan headman Rich Rodriguez met with the media yesterday to discuss his goals for the spring, his squad's size & strength gains, Tate Forcier's progress, Greg Robinson's impact, and more.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Any (idea) of where we are going to be placed (in the tournament)?  Do you guys have any idea – wide open?

Question:  One of the things said playing West Virginia in I forget which region.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Wow that would be interesting (laughter).  It would be a game I would probably watch for sure.  We would maybe even practice around to fit that schedule here.  Go ahead, who's first?"

Question:  How does it feel to get spring practice going today?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm really excited.  Obviously it's a great sunny day and our players have worked extremely hard over the last seven or eight weeks, getting ready for spring practice and we have some young guys that are practicing for the first time today, so I'm excited to watch them perform.  More than anything else, I think the beginning of the semester starts the new year, but this kind of starts our first step to our road back to where we want our program to be."

Question:  I think the fans want to know is who is going to take the first snap of the first practice at quarterback?

Coach Rodriguez:  "That would be Nick Sheridan.  I think he's done a great job of improving his knowledge of the offense.  I know those guys are putting some time in with Coach Smith and learning some of the new things that we're going to do.  I told the team last night.  There are not going to be any starters determined this week or even by the end of spring.  We have to wait until the end of fall camp to determine who our starters are going to be or who the guy is.  I just hope that we can find at least a couple of guys at each position that we feel comfortable enough to win with."

Question:  How pleased were you with winter conditioning and again last night at the Night of Champions?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah last night was a great time.  We had a Junior Day in recruiting.  Our players I think had a lot of fun doing a bunch of different events.  Bryant Nowicki kept his title as the egg eating champion.  We had a dozen eggs this year; we increased it over 10 and he knocked them out pretty good.  I wouldn't want to be his roommate right now (laughter).  They had a lot of fun.  We had a lot of fun watching those guys compete.  It was a blast.  I think our guys have put in an awful lot of work.  I've been really pleased.  Coach Barwis is tickled to death.  I think he said there was over 250 personal records that guys set in the weight room on different lifts and exercises.  So that tells me they've improved individually as well."

Question:  What do you hope to see out of Tate (Forcier) this spring?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Tate's obviously got to learn the offense.  You got to remember, not just Tate, but the other six guys that are here are still supposed to be in high school.  So this is their first college practice and I think it is going to be a lot faster for them than they have ever seen before and probably about halfway through practice they will realize, geez, I'm not halfway done yet, I still got a lot of work to do.  They've done an awful lot of work in the last seven weeks.  The nice part about it, I think they've really blended into our program.  They've not tried to be out front and brag about themselves.  They know they have to earn their respect and I think they've tried to do that.  I'm tickled to death the way they've worked so far."

Question:  Coach how much further ahead do you think the team will be in general as opposed to a year ago?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well, I think we're a lot further ahead strength wise, which is normal.  For a young guy going into college, if he doesn't make great strength and conditioning gains, particularly from the first year to second year then you are not doing your job in the program.  I think we're a lot stronger, which is a natural progression.  In particular guys on offense to be a lot more familiar with what we're doing.  I would expect our offense not to be 100% execution and efficient today because it is the first day of practice in a long time.  I do expect us offensively to at least be able to pick up where we left off from.  Coach Robinson and the defense, with their energy and some of the things that we're doing.  It will take a few days, but I expect them to be moving around pretty well as well."

Question:  Is he (Coach Robinson) going to coach a position?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  I don't want walk around bosses and Coach Robinson doesn't want to do that anyway.  Most coach I know want to be involved with a particular position because it keeps them more in tune with what the overall scheme is as well.  So Coach Robinson will work with the outside linebackers and some with the defensive ends and he'll be heavily involved in the day-to-day teaching."

Question:  What is your number one goal coming out by the time now and April 11th?

Coach Rodriguez:  "One is obviously to get our guys fundamentally and I think that is a big part of spring that all coaches will tell you, but we've got to get better fundamentally in all of the positions.  Then two is try to find or identify guys that we feel we're ready to win with and who still has some work to do in that regard.  If we can go those to things and stay relatively healthy at the end of spring, we would have a good spring."

Question:  (John) Ferrara will stay on the offensive line?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah right now.  Our goal is always to find eight guys, but we may be able with some of the young guys, we may be able to find 10 offensive linemen that we feel comfortable with.  John has put a lot of work in and to be fair to him, he's been committed to that since he's moved over and we want to see a chance.  He's smart enough that if we need for depth reasons, we can move him back, I think we can, but I think right now we are going to keep him there."

Question:  The fact that you are practicing outdoors is unusual.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah isn't this great.  I don't remember, you all may remember last year, but I don't think that we got out until maybe the 10th or 11th practice and we didn't have this wonderful turf field, so it was always scheduling something at the local high school, which worked out okay but not nearly as convenient as this is.  In looking at the long term forecast, we may be able to get out the first three or four practices – it is a great."

Question:  Does it make a difference?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well I think it does.  Obviously from a kicking standpoint, we got a little bit more room out here.  It's just better to be outdoors when you can.  Fortunately for us, we got the indoor and we got the beautiful complex being built just in case we get one of those spring storms that happen here once in a while.  This is a nice day to practice.  I think our players like to be outside.  They've been inside for seven weeks lifting.  I think they want to go outside and play some football."

Question:  Who has been the player that maybe you've been most impressed with or Coach Barwis has been most impressed with, with the strength workouts?

Coach Rodriguez:  "You know there have been a lot of them.  It's really hard to pin it down to just one.  I think some of the upperclassman that have been doing it for years, the Brandon Grahams, Stevie Browns are doing a tremendous job, Steve Schillings, but we're getting our young guys.  I mean Michael Cox is a young freshman that did a great job in the offseason.  Mike Martin has done a tremendous job, but I can list you about 40-45 guys that if you ask Coach Barwis, you know how he can talk.  He'll go rant and rave about them for a half a piece.  He has been really tickled.  That attitude has been outstanding.  I really feel that our guys feel that hunger to improve themselves, which obviously we want everybody in our program to have that feeling.  I think this first practice will be a step in that direction."

Question:  Andre Criswell is he not playing any more?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah Andre with his shoulder situation.  He'll remain on scholarship.  He is actually going to help our staff, kind of be a student assistant coach and also do some work in the community.  I think Andre believes that's his calling and he's a great young man so unfortunately he won't be able to play any more, but he'll still be a big part of our program."

Question:  Will you evenly divide the snaps at quarterback?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Pretty much.  We try to get everybody in spring a lot of reps to evaluate and to teach and I think at quarterback we'll probably keep things pretty even with Tate, Nick and then also David Cone getting a fair amount of reps as well."

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