Coach Rod Roundtable Part 6

In the sixth and final part of Rich Rodriguez's sit down with the media at the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Michigan's headman sheds more light on the quarterback battle heading into the fall, parallels between his second season at West Virginia and his second season in Ann Arbor, and much much more.

Question:  I know you can't speak specifically but is there another player that is still a possibility to join the team, another scholarship player?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We are actively talking to Jason Forcier."

Question:  I didn't know if you could talk about it.

Coach Rodriguez:  "That's the only thing we can say.  Any thing else more, I got to erase all of your tapes."

Question:  Is there a timetable that you expect to hear from someone on that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah hopefully within a week."

Question:  You got so many people here today saying that the Michigan game was a much tougher game than the final score indicated last year that sort of thing…

Coach Rodriguez:  "They are just being kind (laughter)."

Question:  …the point was that you were close at a lot of halftimes.  What is the key to a better second half?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Executing better.  It is like defensively.  We played poorly at times but there are times we played pretty well.  We played good, play good and then give up a big play.  Then the offense, there was times when we didn't even give ourselves a chances.  We fumbled a ball on first down or have an unforced error.  Just fixing those things you are automatically better.  Those other teams aren't going to sit still either.  Somebody told me today that six of the top quarterbacks in the league are back efficiency wise.  That tells you something that those schools are going to be better.  You worry about ourselves.  I like what I saw from the spring but the finished product aint even close.  If we have a great camp, Mike says that they've had a great summer, if we have a great camp that is the next step."

Question:  You mentioned hungry yesterday; is hunger a byproduct of the three and nine season?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  It is a byproduct of that for sure, it'd better be.  I would hope that it is an annual thing.  I hope our guys aren't hungry because last season was so bad, I hope it is an annual thing.  As an athlete always wanting to prove themselves.  I've talked quite a bit about entitlement.  Whether you've had success or whether you won a lot that doesn't entitle you to have success in the future, you've got to earn it.  Bottom line, I've said it 100 times, I'll say it again, we'll win more when we deserve to win more.  Pretty simple."

Question:  Right now do you think that you deserve to win more than you did last year?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Based on what…talking to Mike Barwis – yes.  Based on what I've seen in the spring so far – yes."

Question:  Bringing in a BCS opponent next year, what kind of statement do you think that makes?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know if it makes any statement really.  We're trying to find a game.  We are trying to find a one and done.  You come to our place and we don't return it.  If we can't find that with a BCS school, let's find one and then somebody come back a few years down the road when we got time to work it out and that looks like the direction we are going in."

Question:  The fact that you are going after the high caliber opponent…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think everybody…we've played some mid majors and we got Notre Dame and everybody wants the big splash for the opening.  In reality what is easy is that…there are so many variables, particularly most schedules are made as you know four or five years in advance.  I can't tell you how many calls were made.  We are working on scenarios and I'm hoping that this thing will get settled.  At least our fans will have an attractive home game.  I've said this and I'll say it 100 times.  I want our fans to come watch us first.  No matter who we are playing.  I know there is interest when you are playing another school that they can identify with, but the idea is to come watch Michigan first and foremost, and our fans do.  Just come to the Big House, there is going to be 110,000."

Question:  Rich, is it unfair for people to look at your second year at West Virginia and compare that to this?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Naw but it is a different scenario.  The biggest difference is that I had a quarterback that was my starter the first year, Rasheed Marshall… he had gotten hurt but he at least had played some games, he was very talented and he fit the system.  There are some parallels and we draw on that.  Not from the standpoint that it is going to be the same because aint it the same.  Everybody is different.  But having been through it before, we are not panicking.  We know the process is in place and we'll be alright."

Question:  What are the elements that might allow your offense to move faster, not running faster, but operate faster?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think knowing the system and knowing the answers to the problems and understanding.  When you're first learning an offense, you know where a play goes but you may not know the particulars of why this play does this or that.  As you learn the system, you understand why you do these.  As an athlete, you make subtle adjustments on having success.  I want our players to be able to teach the offense.  When they get to the point where they know it and understand it to the point that they could actually teach it to the other guys, then you can play a whole lot faster.  You are not going to learn that in one year.  You may not learn it in two years, but you'll know more than you did the year before."

Question:  Freshman quarterbacks just in general, why is it so difficult for them?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Because there is so much for them to learn.  Everything is so much faster for them.  They talk about the speed and the game and all that.  We have more time with them than high school coaches do.  There is more complexity in the scheme.  They see a lot different coverages.  They may see two or three coverages in high school, they may see two or three coverages in one play in college, so that is probably a bigger adjustment than anything on offense is what they are going against, what they see.  You may see one or two fronts.  You may see one or two fronts moved before you snap the ball.  So that part of it, you've got to learn as a quarterback.  Not only do you got to learn what we're doing, you got to learn what they're doing.  Then you got to learn on how to solve it."

Question:  How much do you put on your quarterbacks shoulders in terms of deciphering?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Because our quarterbacks make decisions quite a bit, they got to know what they are doing on the other side.  Eventually they can get comfortable, I hope they get comfortable where they can call plays.  I like that.  They would be able to call plays someone their own.  Until they know the system…"

Question:  That is unrealistic for a freshman?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  Almost completely unrealistic pretty much.  They'll get closer to it."

Question:  When would you like to make a decision on the quarterback, when do you want a week before the opener, two weeks before the opener?

Coach Rodriguez:  "You'd like to, in a way you say you'd like to have somebody separate so you know, but I don't envision that happening until the week for the first game.  Then I would also like to have at least two that we feel, hey I feel comfortable with these two that we can win with.  If we can get three that is even better but you had better have at least two.  I think we'll get there."

Question:  Is that a recruiting philosophy too that every year that we got to get two in each class or is that just the beginning, you're trying to…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Every year we recruit guys that come to compete.  A guy said, ‘I don't know, you got that guy coming back' that aint the guy you want.  I want somebody who says, I want to come and compete at Michigan."

Question:  "Is your philosophy is that at the beginning that you're doing two quarterbacks in every class or is that something that you want to do consistently?

Coach Rodriguez:  "One in every class.  I would like to have one in every class.  We will recruit a quarterback every year."

Question:  You said that you are far from finished product; will you tell these guys whether they can contend this year and is that something that you tell them every year?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Sure we tell our guys every day, recruits and players.  We compete, we contend every day, every day.  If you start on Saturday and you have a bad day, you might not be starting on Sunday or Monday and if you start on Tuesday, you might not be starting on Wednesday.  Now realistically is someone going to beat Brandon Graham out, or is somebody going to beat Mark Ortmann out, probably not, but if they start to slip, somebody will pass them up.  We'll do that and when you have that type of healthy competition, everybody is elevated."

Question:  How about for a Big Ten title, will you tell these guys that there is an opportunity?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Every year.  That is the first goal every year.  Win a Big Ten Championship, even this year.  A lot of things have to go right for us and a lot of things wrong for some other folks but I would like to think that is our first goal every year is to compete for the Big Ten Championship.  I'm sure that has always been the case at Michigan.  That aint going to change."

Question:  Watching Tate in the spring game was it just like……?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well recruited Tate knowing he would be a good fit for what we are doing.  What we saw in the spring reaffirmed that."

Question:  Does that get you excited that that might be your future quarterback?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah it gets you excited.  He still has got a lot of work to do.  Back then he was 180 pounds, right now he is about 190.  He is actually showing a few muscles." 

Question:  So you don't go into the fall with a (QB) hierarchy?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No, we go with the idea of how we are going to rep them.  You've got to do that.  I want them to feel it is wide open, because that's what we said and we are going to follow through with it.  But the guys who have been through here through the spring will at least know the system.  They will be able to jump in the drill faster.

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