Rich Rod's "Full Pads" Recap

Rich Rodriguez met with the media after the first fully padded practice of fall camp to discuss impressions of his team thus far, J.T. Turner's progress, the latest on Jason Forcier, his stable of running backs, injuries, and much much more. ***The entire transcript.***

Question:  You had a couple of guys in red jerseys, Isaiah Bell and Ricky Barnum, any other injuries on top of those?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well Greg Mathews practiced some today; he was a little bit limited.  Brandon Minor did some things, but he is still a little limited.  Hopefully those guys will be full for tomorrow."

Question:  What is wrong with Ricky and Isaiah?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Isaiah was sick and Ricky has got an ankle."

Question:  What is your first impression of being in pads today?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's alright.  I think it wasn't great, but it wasn't bad.  The intensity was good early and then it fades at the end like it normally does.  We talked quite a bit about competing on every snap and not wasting every opportunity that we have.  I think they'll take that to heart.  These guys are pretty coachable.  They are pretty conscientious.  Tomorrow starts two-a-days so it gets tougher for them, but I think they'll fight through it."

Question:  What is your rotation at quarterback right now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "All three, Denard (Robinson), Tate (Forcier) and Nick (Sheridan) are sharing the reps.  They'll continue to do that throughout camps."

Question:  Are they working with specific groups? 

Coach Rodriguez:  "All three are getting reps.  Everybody can go ahead and be patient because there will not be a starter game until right before the first game, maybe it'll be a game time decision."

Question:  Is it different seeing them in pads; I mean Denard you hadn't seen him in pads.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah a little bit.  We go live.  We went a little bit live today.  We won't go live a lot, because simply you don't want to beat up your team.  For 15 or 20 minutes every day, we'll have some live periods when we're in full pads and let them loose a little bit.  But they have to be smart too and not take unnecessary hits.  It was fun to watch them run around a little bit today."

Question:  Nothing further on (Aidan) Witty right now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No still waiting."

Question:  Who has impressed you at strong safety?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well, we got a bunch of guys rolling in and out of there, Vladimir Emilien and Mike Williams and Jared Van Slyke are some new guys.  We moved Troy Woolfolk to safety and he can play both I believe.  That's been a really good move.  We got a couple freshmen there right now.  We haven't done a whole lot yet.  Today is the first time we did some live tackling and I'll watch the film and see who did what."

Question:  What are your expectations for Will Campbell this year?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I hope he'll get in the mix. He's going to get a lot of reps because we're thin at D-line and he's worked himself in pretty good shape.  He's still got some work to do there.  He's got to learn how to play, some technique stuff.  He's a guy that loves football, he has been battling.  I think he's got to help with something."

Question:  What have you seen from Vincent Smith this week?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Vincent is one of those guys that loves football.  You got to take and grab Vincent and take him out of the drill.  Some guys, you got to prod in there, not too many, but Vincent is one that is always one that has always wants to take reps.  He's not real big, but he's a tough competitor, and he's got some skill and he's going to play this year.  He is going to play quite a bit of football and is going to keep getting better."

Question:  Now that (JT) Turner has been out there, obviously he is not pads yet…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No he's not in pads, so he's fighting through it.  I don't know.  He's a talented guy, so we'll see how quickly he learns.  He certainly has got the athletic ability.  He's a pretty sharp guy and I think he'll learn.  We got to get him in pads, so we'll have him ready here pretty soon."

Question:  Will it be tomorrow?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, limited pads tomorrow and then he'll be good to go after that."

Question:  Start him at corner?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yes.  We'll start him at corner and he may eventually learn safety just like Troy Woolfolk did, but right now we need some competition at corner and safety, but we need more at corner."

Question:  I guess athleticism wise and conditioning wise…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He got here late in the summer, but he…he wasn't here like the rest of the guys for five or six full weeks, but he looks in pretty good shape.  Again, just judged on a couple of days of practices I can't tell, but he'll get there.  He's here early enough now to get in shape to be able to help us this year if that is the case."

Question:  You've been asked about punt returners every time we've seen you so far, today they dropped a couple just the first.

Coach Rodriguez:  "In what, just the individual?"

Question:  Yeah individual.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah they dropped four."

Question:  Is that not a big deal to you?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. If they drop them a lot in live situation, yeah.  Everybody is going to drop a ball and make a mistake here and there."

Question:  How were they in live drills?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Good… they didn't drop any.  We had a couple of problems.  That and our kick off returns if you remember, we dropped a whole lot.  So we've worked on that every day.  If we just take care of the ball better on that part, we'll be okay."

Question:  Greg (Robinson) had talked that one of his focuses was tackling, a very basic thing …?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We tackled a lot better today.  We did a tackling drill, so I don't know if I should be encouraged that we tackled them all the time or we couldn't make somebody miss.  I was kind of torn.  The tackling part really was pretty good.  Greg and the defensive staff will continue to emphasis that because it was poor at times and we've got to do a lot of work.  That's the thing in camp, you balanced getting your offense and defense installed, but you cannot forget the fundamentals and the blocking and tackling part, the fundamentals is the thing that usually gets me fired up the most and they did a good job of that today.  Now that we are in full pads, we'll work on that about every day."

Question:  Was there anybody who really stood out that maybe you didn't expect?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Not yet.  Again give me a little time to watch the film, next time we meet, I can probably tell you.  There wasn't anybody that said, oh, caught your eye.  Vincent Smith was one that has caught our eye in the last couple of days, which has been impressive.  The other guys have been the same old suspects."

Question:  Why did you guys have the tackling problem last year, anything you can put your finger on?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Oh, some of it was fundamentals and some of it was maybe inexperience.  Some guys weren't quite used the speed of the game what have you.  Trying to remember, it was poor at times but it wasn't like it stood out and said that cost us the game at times.  Sometimes you just got to work on the fundamental part of it and hope they get better at it."

Question:  Do you like what you've seen from Junior Hemingway?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Junior is probably in the best shape that he's been in, but he's still not ready like I think he is going to be.  Junior had a really good day yesterday.  He's competing and he's in good shape.  We need him and Greg Mathews in particular  have to be two guys that we can count on as far as making plays and being able to do all the things that we ask of our wide outs to do.  Those are kind of two of the upper classman that their time is kind of now."

Question:  You said you wanted to get the intensity up; we were there for the M Drill; Daryl (Stonum) goes down; did you just figure that you needed the intensity?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah and you got to play football.  This is a different sport.  As a head coach you get nervous any time you go live like we do in the M Drill, just hope you want to get through it.  But to match the game type intensity, to teach tackling and blocking, getting off tackles and all that stuff, you got to have something live.  You can't just say, ‘okay it is Saturday, game time, just turn it on'.  We weigh that balance – that's football."

Question:  You don't do that every day?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No.  We'll do it today and probably every other day for the first couple of weeks and then when the season starts we don't.  It's a competitive drill first off.  The M Drill for us is pure football fundamentals, as you emphasis blocking, getting off blocks and it is tackling; it's running, making one cut and running.  So it is everything that you would want in a confined five to 10 minute period."

Question:  What is your scrimmage schedule going to be like for the remainder of practice?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well probably scrimmage next Wednesday, have a situation scrimmage.  We'll have a full scout scrimmage next Saturday.  Then probably another one the following Wednesday and then that'll be it.  I wish…I've said it a bunch to you guys, you guys probably heard me…if there was one rule to change in division one college football; I still call it division one if that alright (laughter), I forget all the letters,  FBS, BCS and all that.  If there was one rule to change that they would let you have a preseason or exhibition game against somebody else.  It doesn't have to be any crowd or fans there, just so you have an idea of what i's like to go against somebody else and you can judge yourself a little better.  We are the only level, if you think about it; the NFL has four preseason games and their pros.  Even smaller colleges, when I was in division two you could have a scrimmage game and high schools always have; and division one you can't have it and that's kind of silly.  All these games are so important.  I wish we could have a scrimmage so that we could have it judged on where we are at, but we can't."

Question:  Has that every come up at the coaches' meetings?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I brought it up a couple of years ago and everybody said, ‘Yeah that sounds good,' and then it faded into oblivion.  We talked about spring games against somebody else and I thought that would be good, to have a spring game.  Imagine the crowd we had at the Big House if we had a spring game against somebody here, and not charge.  I think it would be fun.  I don't know if we'll go that way or not, but I think it is something to entertain."

Question:  What was it just too much on the kids?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know.  Really I don't know if there has been a whole lot of thought put into it.  Other than just to bring it up and say wouldn't it be nice to be able to scrimmage.  I think that even if you can't scrimmage, do a full scale scrimmage, do like some of the NFL teams, just bring somebody else in and just practice against them.  Just so you have different bodies against them and increase that competitiveness.  I'd love to do it.  That's what so amazing.  For our guys, they get four weeks of camp, no exhibition games, no going against somebody else and they got to perform at a high level.  I'm not making excuses but in the NFL, you got four exhibition games, you got teams coming in to practice against and all that kind of stuff.  That's why today, going back to back today, why we teach our guys the importance of every practice.  The importance of every play and competing, because our times goes like this (snaps fingers) and the next thing you know we've got to get ready to play against a team on September 5th.  That's a long answer to a short simple question."

Question:  Rich you said you might hear something on Jason Forcier this week?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, still waiting.  It's kind of ongoing.  I haven't heard anything yet today and Brad Labadie, our assistant is going to check on where we are at there."

Question:  How is Fitz Toussaint?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, he banged his shoulder up and he was out of any more tackling drills early in practice.  I don't know what the severity of that is."

Question:  How did he look before that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He looked pretty good.  His head is swimming as far as what to do, but he showed some talent.  I don't know whether he can help us this year or not; depends on mentality how fast he comes along and we got a lot of good backs I think.  He's got the talent to play here."

Question:  You had said the other day that the two guys that left, they had a feel about playing time even though you hadn't told them where they ranked on necessarily on the depth chart…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Guys usually know a little bit where they're at.  I've told the team…I think a lot of guys just based things on the reps.  As I told the team, it's a long camp and everybody is going to get a chance to get reps, and sometimes patience is hard.  I had to wait four years to start a game in college and it is hard to be patient.  The rewards of sticking it out and understanding being part of Michigan and getting our Michigan degree.  I think we got a 120 some guys that understand that and are excited about that.  There is nothing wrong with guys wanting to play, everybody wants to play.  Eventually your role gets into place as the season starts.  One thing we've tried to do and I think our players under it, nobody gets something locked in.  You've got to keep earning it every week.  You could be a starter.  Is it hard for somebody to beat Brandon Graham out?  Sure, but if Brandon slips and he doesn't perform like he wants to, somebody will.  That's the kind of competition that we are trying to foster here."

Question:  Even though someone may not start over him, will you guys say fewer plays and stuff like that in a game just as a motivating factor or stuff like that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "For players?"

Question:  Yeah.

Coach Rodriguez:  "For players in general and I've said this is a bunch of times; if you're good enough to win with, you'll play.  If there are two or three guys at one corner position are good enough to win with, two or three guys will play.  That's a good problem to have.  We aren't there at all positions right now.  If you're not good enough then let us to try to get you there and you try to get you there yourself."

Question:  The start is not the only carrot that you have?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No, it's playing.  Guys want to play.  There is special teams and again, we've had guys last year that weren't even in the 105 in camp and by mid season they were starting on several special teams.  I tell them just keep doing what you guys are doing and the cream usually rides to the top."

Question:  Early impressions of Je'Ron Stokes?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He's got a chance to help us this year.  Again, he's a freshman learning, but he's got a great attitude.  He loves football and he's getting a lot of reps now, as he will during camp.  Both he and Cam Gordon as outside receivers could possible play as true freshman."

Question:  How many true freshmen in total do you think will play this year?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It could probably up to 10, which is probably more than you'd really like too.  I think two or three years down the road maybe it won't be as many, but last year, this year, and next year, we will probably play quite a few."

Question:  Roy Roundtree finished the spring pretty strong has he kind of picked up where he's left off?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yep.  We've got a group of slots.  Roy is going to be a guy as camp goes on, who we'll put both inside and outside."

Question:  Rich you knocked on wood in Chicago about Carlos Brown's health, so far so good?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  He's had a good camp.  He's made some good runs.  Like I said, the competition at every position is what you want and it is very evident at running back.  We always say you can't make the club sitting in the tub, the training room tub, but they all want to get out there and it is fun to watch those guys compete, especially at running back."

Question:  You anticipate Brandon Minor…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I think he'll be back tomorrow.  We don't practice on Sunday; if not, he'll be back on Monday."

Question:  Is Daryl okay by the way?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, he finished practice, he was taking reps."

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