Rich Rod's Practice Recap (8/18 - Transcript)

Rich Rodriguez met with the media between two-a-day practices to discuss the progress of his young quarterbacks, injuries, the status of the Jason Forcier transfer, the depth on defense (or lack thereof), and much much more. ***The entire transcript.***

Question:  Any injuries since we saw you last?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No nothing at all (sarcasm)…how many practices have we had since we saw you, a couple.  We've had a few minor injuries, fortunately nothing serious.  Guys that may be out for a few days.  Again it is kind of day to day with all these guys, Ricky Barnum with an ankle, Thomas Gordon with an ankle, Mark Moundros with a foot, Donovan Warren has got a little knee sprain.  Fitzgerald Toussaint will probably be out a couple of weeks, a few weeks with a shoulder issues.  I think it is a little fracture of something on his shoulder.  So he will be out a few weeks.  He's the longest term guy.  Zach Johnson got hit under the throat or something, so he'll be out for a few days.  All of those guys with the exception of Fitz, we hope to be back in a few days.  Everybody else is practicing."

Question:  Fitz will probably redshirt?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well it depends.  We got a lot of backs and if you miss three weeks of camp, it will set you…particularly as freshman.  If he comes back before the end of camp and he can learn quickly, he can get back in the mix."

Question:  Can you talk a little bit about Connecticut and the decision process to (add them to the schedule)?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, it's been ongoing for over a year and a half.  What we wanted to do was find a BCS opponent and not have to return the date and that was a challenge, because we wanted a home game without returning.  That went nowhere.  We tried to find another attractive opponent division one schools; I still can't get used to call it…what is it FCS.  We tried to find another school that would have been attractive for our fans and a good opener without returning a date and that didn't work out.  Even the ones that we could that maybe would have been interested, we couldn't work it out for that particular date.  There might have other schools that had an opening.  Connecticut had an opening.  I don't know what happened.  They had an opening on that date to come here and we worked it out to return I guess in 2013.  We got what we wanted as far as a quality BCS school coming to our place.  We do have to return it, which messes up in that for us you want to have as many home games as possible.  We have a lot of fans in the northeast so that will be kind of a neat trip.  That's further on down the road.  Our schedule is set, so we don't have to worry about that any more."

Question:  Is there any wiggle room with that return date; could you possible move it to Foxboro; what is the benefit of playing at a 40,000 seat?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well it's their game.  It's their home game, so if they would want to move it, we would talk to them about it.  For us, I'm not overly concerned with the away venues.  I'm just happy for the Big House."

Question:  Does it bring back any memories of the Big East at all for you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I played there a couple of times.  I don't know if I was there the first year that that stadium was open, but it was either the first year or second year.  It was a neat atmosphere and when they have a sell out and I'm sure for our game it will be sold out.   It should be a fun atmosphere.  Obviously it is 40,000, not the same as 110,000, but if you have 40,000 plus cramming the isles and into the game, which I am sure the will be; it should be a neat atmosphere."

Question:  Do you see some depth starting to develop on the defensive line?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm hoping to.  After just a few days in pads, I don't think our depth situation is settled yet.  That was one of our concerns going into camp, particularly defensively that we needed to develop more depth and that is still an ongoing deal.  They are getting a lot of reps that's for sure.  We are trying to get them ready, but are we going to be as deep as I want to be defensively, that's not going to happen this year.  Now hopefully through recruiting and through development the next couple of years, we will have more depth.  Again, we don't have a big senior class, so I would expect with most of the guys returning.  I think we only have two seniors defensively that are starting.  It is something that we will obviously address, but we are not there yet."

Question:  What do you like what the quarterbacks are doing right now and maybe a concern or two that you still have?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well the concern with the young guys is they're still learning, not just what we do, which is…I've probably talked to you all about this before, but in the phase of a quarterback, you got to learn what we do first.  Then you got to learn what they do and then what we do against what they do and how do we match that up.  For them, they are still learning what we are doing right now.  Combining that with some of the different things that we're seeing defensively our quarterbacks have go to make the right reads, see difference coverages and recognize defenses and that's any true freshman at this level that's going to be a few weeks to get that down.  I've been pleased that they've made some plays, running around, moving around, both Denard (Robinson) and Tate (Forcier) and don't seem too flustered with that.  You can tell that Nick (Sheridan) has been in the system for a year and is an older guy because he's seeing things a whole lot quicker.  Those other guys, in yesterdays practice in particular those young quarterbacks made a lot of plays as well.  They're coming."

Question:  Any update on Jason (Forcier)?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It does not appear that Jason will be coming (to Michigan).  It didn't work out.  He is going to move on.  He's got a degree.  He is going to get into the ‘real world' sort of speak and he's a great young man and he'll have success.  I don't know which area he is going into, but I'm going to be someone to try to help because I just think that this guy is going to have great success in this business world."

Question:  Is there any chance of him helping with the program here or anything?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He'd probably like to, but I think he wants to get a job and start that phase of his life.  I think he is going to be around a little bit and watch his brother and watch the team.  He knows a lot of guys on the team."

Question:  Does that have any practical implications on your team, you weren't counting on him to…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No.  Our situation at quarterback for this year, we know who is taking the reps and getting them ready."

Question:  Why isn't he coming?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It didn't work out with the things here.  Without getting into all the details, there was a lot of factors that had to happen for him to be here first and then he would be eligible second.  After working through that for a few weeks, as you all know, the situation didn't work out.  He's moving on and we have too."

Question:  Anything with (Adrian) Witty?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Haven't heard anything."

Question:  Kind of follow-up on the quarterbacks a little bit, I don't know if you saw that Greg Paulus was named starter at Syracuse; you guys looked at him…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I usually don't talk about other guys, but I'll talk about Greg.  I think and I said this before, one he is a great athlete, and he is an outstanding person and a very, very intelligent athlete.  When you combine his intelligence, his competitiveness and his athletic ability, look what he did as a basketball player at Duke.  It doesn't surprise me at all and it wouldn't surprise me at all that he will have great success because I think that highly of him.  I don't know what they are doing system wise or scheme wise or anything like that.  Like I said, he's an outstanding athlete with outstanding qualities.  So he'll have success."

Question:  How is the new rule about being able to hit the punter on rollouts going to affect you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't think it…it shouldn't affect us if we are blocking it right, because we get rid of it pretty quick.  Even though we do some roll punts, probably, I don't know what, maybe 50% of the time, a little less than that, it's not an extended roll punt.  We take two or three steps and get rid of it.  So we're actually not getting outside the tackle box, but we have talked about it, because we play against some teams that do that roll punt.  (The punter) has to have more of a sense of urgency if somebody comes free for some reason."

Question:  What is Craig Roh showing you so far?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Craig is probably going to play as a true freshman.  Again, it has just been one week, but he has got some natural ability pass rush wise and we're teaching him some different things in our scheme of our defense.  I think he can help us at least in our pass rush mode and then as he continues to learn the defense, he'll do more and more.  What we thought when we signed him, everything is seen so far in practice."

Question:  Have you see anything from the kickers?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah that's an ongoing battle.  They've kicked pretty well.  We've had a couple of days where I didn't think they were at their best and I got a little nervous.  Then yesterday, they kicked very, very well.  We've tried to put the under some pressure situations like at the end of practice, we have so many conditioning sprints to do and depending on how many kicks a kicker has made, it reduces it.  We try to put them under the pressure, but it's not the same pressure that you would in a game under a big crowd.  They've kicked the ball pretty well in field goals and kickoffs have been okay.  We haven't done as many of those, but the field goal thing, it's a wide open deal and it will not resolved until a couple of weeks I would think."

Question:  How many guys are involved in that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We got four or five of them."

Question:  They're all still in the mix?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, we got a whole bunch of them.  Normally in camp, you'd only have two, maybe three and counting Bryan Wright, who is doing both, we've got four or five of them out there."

Question:  All freshmen are different, but what makes you think that Tate can go in and perhaps as a starter or whatever and handle 111,000 people?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well he and Denard both.  They have some obvious athletic ability.  They can run around.  They both have the ability to throw.  I think they have a certain confidence and presence about them that they can make plays and create something.  Again, they've not done it in a game so lets be a little bit patient with them.  As I have to remind myself, we're not coaching them as if they are freshman though.  Normally with a freshman, you go in there and they kind of just ease their way and we're not doing that.  We're putting them in there full bore and all of them are taking reps with the first team and they're getting coached just like they are getting ready to start the first game against Western Michigan.  I think it is accelerating the learning process but in a week and a half in camp, I think they are on track, but are they ready?  Not yet."

Question:  Last year you said that because the quarterbacks didn't know the system, you were cautiously installing and this year you are just more rapid just because…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah a lot more rapid because of the pieces around them know the base of the offense.  Again, it is starts with the quarterback.  That's where Coach Smith has done a good job in a week and a half or whatever he has to work with him, but we will continue to do that.  I think those guys like learning and they are eager to know what we are doing.  The next three weeks are really going to go fast.  I wish they would go slow, so we'd have more time with them.  As we go and probably by the end of this week, we'll step back and say, ‘okay what do our quarterbacks really know.'  Not only what they know, but what can they execute.  The things they don't know and the things that can't execute, then we'll put on the backburner a little bit and feature the other things."

Question:  Coach are any of the walk on from the student tryouts actually practicing with the team in the fall camp?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know.  There is a couple.  I almost forget once they're on the team and they go through all the workouts and all that.  I almost forget which ones came from the student tryout and which ones came from the normal process.  I think just off the top of my head there might be four or five that are from the student body tryout that are here in camp right now.  Some of them are working their way onto special teams.  We are going to have another tryout.  Normally we have it the first Wednesday when school starts, but we are going to have it the second Wednesday because it gives us the time to check out their academic credentials and some of those other things before we invite them for the tryout.  The second Wednesday, I don't know the exact day of that after school starts we'll have another tryout."

Question:  Brandon Minor, how much did the wrist injury affect him last year, assuming he's healthy now, what he is capable of?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I think the wrist injury and Brandon is a pretty tough guy.  He only wanted to carry it in the other hand.  As back, you want to be able to carry it in your offhand away from traffic.  That and catching the ball, from that standpoint I think from his mind and his mental standpoint, he'll be more confident in carrying it with his other hand.  I really have three senior backs, he and Carlos (Brown) and Kevin Grady, all have to have great years.  I think they had good summers so far.  Brandon has missed a few practices but all three of those guys are right on track."

Question:   You have a lot guys in the mix at running back, but he is a 1000 yard back if he stays healthy?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Oh he could.  Yeah, he's got to get enough carries and he's got to do the right things, but we would like to have two.  I'd be kind of spoiled.  I think we had that one time before, but depending on how many carries he gets.  Those guys one thing about it, when they're hungry and fighting and competing, they'll try to make the most out of every opportunity, I'm sure."

Question:  How much are you guys at installation versus game prep?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Installation, we are on track as far as what we had projected, but as far as our total offense, we're maybe at 65% or something.  Defensively, I don't even know.  I have no idea.  I have to talk to Coach Robinson and see where we are at defensively. Now we've covered most the situations.  We have not done a lot of goal line.  We've done a little bit of goal line but not much.  We'll get into that, again, this is the second two a days in pads.  As we go further that following week, we'll get more situations goal line and short yardage stuff."

Question:  Charlie Weis at Notre Dame said he is actually spending a period of this week, two days practicing for you guys; are you surprised that a) a coach would admit that and b) that a coach would prep for not their first game so early in camp?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I guess.  Everybody does their own thing.  Our focus has been on camp so far on us.  I always do that the first two weeks.  It has always been totally on us.  With mentions of our opening opponent, Western Michigan…when we are installing something, in the first game you may see this.  The first game you may see that.  Our coaches mention that, but our practice schedule and installation and all that is basically just for us.  Then as we get in later this week, it'll all be focused on Western."

Question:  You said tomorrow is going to be the first controlled scrimmage; did you see that last week?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Is it, let me…I check it day by day.  That's why I got my schedule."

Question:  Whenever that happens, what is the thing that you're looking for out of that?  You said it is controlled so that means a specific…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We won't just kick a ball off and play a regular game.  We'll have certain situations and down and distance and field positions and all that.  More than anything, right now as you know when you practice coaches are on the field and helping direct and help…when we do a full scale scrimmage, the coaches are off the field and it is almost…they got to go on their own just like they would in a game.  That's the biggest difference between a scrimmage as opposed to just a practice sort of speak."

Question:  You stressed chemistry when Greg Robinson came in; is there anything that he's done that has encouraged you in that area?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well I know he's involved the other coaches in helping to devise what they are going too defensively.  He asks for their input a lot on our players and their abilities.  I think our defensive staff is close.  I can see the way they interact with the way they react with each other.  The same thing, we don't have a lot of seniors, a lot of upperclassman on defense, so we have got to have great leadership from the few ones that we have and we got to have great leadership from the coaches on defense and I think we'll get that."

Question:  Is that scrimmage still tomorrow?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I have to look at my practice schedule.  We got a normal schedule.  Again, if we scrimmage, it won't be a full scale two hour scrimmage, it'll be maybe 30 minutes worth.  Our full scale scrimmage will be Saturday."

Question:  Have you decided what coaches are going to be on the field with you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yes we have.  Offensively it is the same as last year.  Coach Calvin Magee and Rod Smith upstairs and the other guys down on the field.  Defensively Coach Robinson will be on the field and Coach Gibson will be up.  That's the one change from last year.  Last year, Coach Gibson was on the field and Coach Shafer was in the box.  This year it's flipped.  The coordinator will be down on the field."

Question:  Jeremy Gallon; how is he looking?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He's getting better.  He's learning the system.  Jeremy wasn't here this summer, so the other guys had a few weeks of conditioning ahead of him, but he's getting in shape.  He's learning pretty well.  We have a nice group of slot receivers.  I feel pretty comfortable that there are four or five guys there and they are all getting better and giving us some options things to do at slot."

Question:  What have you seen from Mike Martin?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Mike is a guy; he's probably as important a piece to our defense as anybody we have over there.  We're trying to get some more depth behind him.  He's an explosive player and we don't want him…should never have to have an inside guy play 75 or 80 plays.  We're hoping that we can get some depth that maybe Mike can play 45-50 and somebody else can play 20-25.  He's a guy that had a great summer, very explosive.  We need him to play well and we need to him to stay healthy."

Question:  Is he big enough to play the zero?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah he's big enough to play anywhere inside."

Question:  He'll be doing that a lot, right?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He'll be moving around.  Both of our inside guys I think can play, our tackle and our nose can play either side I think.  Talking to Coach Tall, we'll have some flexibility there."

Question:  You mentioned Boubcar (Cissoko) on your Twitter page as somebody who has done well recently…

Coach Rodriguez:  "Did I. (You did).  You caught me (laughter).  Let me see what he said first."

Question:  What is he doing well that you've seen from him?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Our corners have been pretty competitive.  Donovan was having a great camp and he got nicked up a little bit, but he's right on track.  Boubacar and I think JT Floyd is well at corner.  He's another young guy that we need to have a big camp and so far he's doing pretty well.  We've got to find another one, but those three have stood our more than anybody to me at the corner position."

Question:  Is Donovan is practicing right now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No he didn't practice.  He tweaked that yesterday.  I think it's a day to day thing.  He won't practice this afternoon."

Question:  Is (JT) Turner in pads now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  JT Turner is there and I'm glad we got him.  Obviously with our corner situation, there was a lack of depth there anyway and now he is getting a whole lot of reps.  He's another one that wasn't here during the summer, so he's catching up conditioning wise and all that.  He definitely has got some athletic ability and we'll see how he progresses.  What else did I twitter?"

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