Transcript of Fan Day Coach Rod Presser

Coach Rod went all through the team, in detail, in today's presser ... it's the whole kitchen sink ... and here's the full transcript.

Coach Rodriguez: "If I talk fast it is because we still got a lot of work to do to get ready for the first game. For the first two weeks of camps, been pleased with the way things are progressing. The players have worked hard. I think the coaching staff has a pretty good idea of where we are at right now. We are not nearly close to be ready to play a game, but I don't think any coach would tell you that. We are right where we thought or hoped to be after two weeks. Relatively healthy, got a few bruises and a few guys that are banged up a little bit, but we've gone through that okay. We still got some physical hitting to do. At least the first three or four days this week to try, particularly some of the young guys ready. I love the attitude of the team. I think they exhibited it all summer according to our strength coaches, it carried over to camp and we're anxious to get back to work."

Question: What did you see from the scrimmage yesterday?

Coach Rodriguez: "There was some good and bad. I watched the scrimmage part. I have not watched the special teams part, which we did some live special teams. There was some explosive plays offensively. Again as the head coach, are you worried is that because we are doing plays on offense good or we are playing poorly on defense. I thought our defense made some stops as well. I don't think…our concerns that we have is still there. Our lack of depth at some positions, you guys are probably not quite ready to play at the highest level. They have to play at some spots and that makes us nervous. The quarterback position is still wide open and probably will remain so. Hopefully get it settled obviously for the first game, but that may be an ongoing battle until we play a game and see how they perform under game conditions we won't know for sure if anybody has solidified some starting roles. We found some things yesterday in scrimmage. Freshman in particular or young guys playing for the first time without the coaches telling them what to do, how they performed without use telling them."

Question: Coach would you say that in the opener that each of the three quarterbacks will take some snaps?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. In what order and how many, I couldn't tell you. Right now, all three of them look like they are going to play in the opener. Again, it is projected two weeks out; there is a lot that is going to happen in the next two weeks."

Question: Have you seen any separation among the quarterbacks?

Coach Rodriguez: "Some days and some days I don't. Again, personal philosophy, some guys want it to be established and the team rallies behind him, I just want them all to get better. That's the same at every position. I just want them all just improve to get better. Regardless of who is out there, everybody is expected to perform and execute. We've not told the team and we are not going to tell the team. You rally behind this guy or that guy, they rally behind whoever is taking the snaps, that's who they rally behind."

Question: When you talking about playing more than one of them, obviously that helps with the ongoing competition, but does it also help that they seem to have different skills sets? .

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah somewhat. What we're doing now is try to teach them all, all the offense. In other words, we're not going to do one thing with one quarterback and one thing with another quarterback, we're teaching them all, as we would normally. As we get closer to game preparation, we may specifically have some plays that these quarterbacks can execute better than others. I think you have to do that. You try not to ask them to do something that they can't or at the same time, kind of let them feature or show some of the things that they can do well. We've kind of got a plan for that and talked about it in the last several days but as we probably get towards mid week this week, we'll get honed in more, okay this…particularly young quarterbacks. This is what they really understand, this is what they really execute. Let's get them honed in on that and not have them have the whole offense. Nick (Sheridan) is further ahead as far as knowing the system, but he should be in a year and a half. Every year you're in a system the quarterbacks will continue to grown and that's the exciting part. It's hard to have patience. I have an extreme lack of patience as most people do – wanting it all right now. It is exciting when you think about the potential for our young guys and how much they'll continue to run. Most freshmen, as you know get redshirted at every position, particularly at quarterback and it is the rare breed that starts as a (freshman) quarterback. Chad (Henne) did, but I believe he came in, in January, a little early, so that made a little bit of benefit. Pat White was a terrific as everybody knows and we were able to redshirt him back when because we had Rasheed Marshall, who was the player of the year in the league in front of him. Right now all three of those guys or two of those guys, Denard (Robinson) and Tate (Forcier) are going to play as freshman. How much is going to determine what happens in the next couple of weeks and really the first half of the season."

Question: Rich is there a slight front runner right now among the three?

Coach Rodriguez: really isn't though."

Question: Can you share what thing specific that the other two guys (Denard and Tate) that they are doing well right now?

Coach Rodriguez: "When we recruited them obviously…first off in Nick, Nick's a competitor. He's made himself, not only mentally in knowing the system, but he's made himself physically better in the weight room as all of our guys have. Tate and Denard, when we recruited them, we recruited guys that could run and throw and do some different things that kind of fit our style of offense. We knew that coming in and they've showed that during camp. Nick is battling right there with them. Again for us, the freshman, when you throw as much as we throw at them the first two weeks, their heads are going to be spinning a little bit and I think they've handled it pretty well. It really gets simpler for them from here on out, we think. There is not much…there are some things that we have to add, but there is not as much that we need to add, as we've put in the first two weeks."

Question: Were you expecting more separation or is about where you thought it would be?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not really. I really didn't come into it, any of the coaches with any kind of expectation that this guy would emerge or this guy is emerging. Let's throw them out there and coach them up just like any other position and see what happens. They are about where we thought. They've gotten better. They've learned and all of them have improved. I think they feel comfortable with some of the things that we're doing and now we got to take the next step so that execution is even better."

Question: With Tate and Denard, what about their upbringing, whether it was parents or coaches you think helped them get ready to be able to…?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well they both played in outstanding high school programs, won a lot of games. They had great head coaches. We know their head coaches very, very well and are close with them. They've learned a lot of football coming here, but as much football as you learn, terminology is one thing and then everything is so much faster. You hear that all the time, everything is so much faster for the freshman at all positions when they get here. They are still getting adjusted to that. That's why our scrimmages are good a little bit."

"I've said this a bunch of times and maybe now is a good time to lobby for it, but we are the only level of football that doesn't have preseason games or scrimmage games, or at least get to go against somebody else in some kind of practice to gauge where you're at. Sometimes you make a play as a head coach on offense or defense and I don't know whether to be happy or mad, depending on which side of the ball you're looking at. I think we should be allowed. At least in the NFL, they have four exhibition games and those guys are professionals. They got other teams that they bring in training camp and they work against them. So they kind of gauge where their talent level where they are at. Division II, I don't know even know if 1-AA has scrimmage games, but we don't have any. I would love to have just an opportunity to bring another school in here, not open to the public and just scrimmage against them or work out against them, just kind of give you a gauge of where you are at. That's why every regular season game is so important. There is so many unknowns going into the first game. Now if I was sitting here like Florida and you got 11 defensive starters coming back and nine or 10 offensive starters, you got less questions going into the first game, but that's not where we are at."

Question: I would imagine consistency between the three quarterbacks has some bearing. Is there more consistency with any one quarterback over another?

Coach Rodriguez: "If there was I wouldn't tell you. Seriously, the consistency is going to come more with experience. I would expect an upperclassman to have more constituency than a freshman, but that's not just a quarterback that's at every position. That has kind of came true with all of our players. The veteran guys are making less mistakes than the younger guys but that's probably going to be the case 99% of the time."

Question:: Are you pleased with the consistency of the freshman?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah for being freshman. For where there at as freshman and Coach Smith has done a good job of bringing them along slowly. We've got two more weeks, so as much as they've learned, we're going to accelerate the curve, but we got to remember and everybody has got to remember, not just Tate and Denard, but all those young kids and there is quite a bit that are probably going to get a chance to play. They are going to be freshman and it is a different deal. You can ask any player, the biggest difference in their career as far as playing wise is between their first year and the second year and thereafter."

Question: Rich can you put Denard's big plays that we see online that he has pretty much every practice, can you put those into context; are they coming against the one defense?

Coach Rodriguez: "Some is. All three guys have taken reps with the ones. I couldn't tell you which ones are against the ones or twos or wherever, but all three quarterbacks have made explosive plays, as we have some other guys. All three have made mistakes too."

Question: How about yesterday in scrimmage?

Coach Rodriguez: "About the same. Again, I've reviewed the film, but we as coaches have not sat and evaluated, and before anybody asks about a position other than quarterback, because we do have a lot of other positions (laughter) than quarterback; they are out there. So before you ask for a depth chart, we didn't have time to evaluate or go over it as a staff. We had a scrimmage yesterday and then we had a very nice family picnic with a lot of families of the players and then we had a team meeting to watch the film by position. So today at 5 o'clock, the coaches will have a staff meeting and kind of get a preliminary depth chart and talk about every position and where we are at with all the guys and go from there."

Question: Who started off the scrimmage as number one?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't remember (laughter). No, I think Nick ran the first rep. I think Tate was in the second time with the ones and I think Denard was in the third time with the ones. So all three of them took reps with the first group. I don't want to say that it is fun, but it's kind of much fans, ‘geez, they don't have a starter', maybe we'll have three starting quarterbacks, that'll be neat."

Question: A year into your program now, do you find more acceptance, less resistance for buying into a year later?

Coach Rodriguez: "I want to make it clear and I think I've said. You guys have covered us quite a bit. Our kids worked extremely hard last year. I'm proud they way they hung in there with some adversity and tough games, but I think the biggest difference between year one and year is that as coaches, we know what we have and the players understand exactly what is expected of them in our program. Any time a new coach comes in, there is some apprehension I think. ‘Okay exactly do they want to hear'. They still work hard, but now they don't have to explain it as much, even though we still do because that's what you're supposed to do as a coach. We understand exactly what we have as players and I think they understand what our expectations are and what are rules are and how they are supposed to go about their business."

Question: Whoever you do have at quarterback, how much will it help if your senior running backs…

Coach Rodriguez: "…back to the quarterbacks already..."

Question: …it's kind of a twist…

Coach Rodriguez: "We're going to involve the other guys, good (laughter) – 11 guys."

Question: The other high profile position, (Carlos) Brown and (Brandon) Minor can do what you would hope a senior running back can do, how much pressure will that take off whoever is the starting quarterback?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well if you can run, that's probably led back to a bigger point. If you can run the football successfully and not have a bunch of third and longs and second and very longs that will help any quarterback. Our running game, it was obviously inconsistent in the past, but that's in the past. I think our guys understand our schemes better and we'll have some more experience up front. We will have some veterans at running back. They got to stay healthy and they got to provide us a little spark back there. I feel pretty good about that position, very, very competitive – running back position. You mentioned the two seniors and you also have another senior in Kevin Grady and you got Vincent Smith and some young guys there and Michael Shaw, who played some last year. We got a pretty good competitive situation at running back and I think that it is making them elevate their game. At least that's the hope."

Question: Will this offensive line give you a better chance to win?

Coach Rodriguez: "I'd hope. I would think that we would be executing a little bit better. There is more competition there as well. I still have concerns about our depth, because it is young and they haven't played. We're not a big group up front, but that's okay as long as they execute properly. They've done pretty well in camp, but we are not near where we need to be or where we are going to be, I hope."

Question: What kind of contributions do you expect from Kevin and Kelvin Grady?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well Kevin has had a good camp. He plays, he knows his role. He's going to play some tailback. As a bigger back, he's going to play some fullback for us. He's learned and done a good job of that. He is going to be playing some special teams. He loves playing football. He knows the opportunity that he has and so we expect Kevin to have a solid year for us. Kelvin, I don't want to say he a pleasant surprise, but he's been fun to watch in camp. He's been out of the sport for a couple of years, but he's been in a college program and he's been getting coached and trained by Coach Beilein and his staff. He has put himself into a position to play for us. What he's done the last two weeks, Kelvin Grady is in the mix and he going to play at slot receiver and on special teams. We've really been pleased. He's a coachable guy and he's athletic. It's been exciting. He's made a lot of plays in camp. He's been an explosive player as well."

Question: How unique is that, when he hasn't played football in two years?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well it has only been a couple of years. Again, these guys are young and there has been some guys and again, he hasn't been inactive. It isn't like he's been laying around for two years doing nothing. He's been over there playing a very, very competitive situation. He got in the weight program with Coach Barwis this summer and added some strength. What's exciting is that that was his first year in Coach Barwis' system so he'll continue to get bigger and stronger of the football part of the strength and conditioning and he's learning the system. Kelvin, I don't want to say surprised, but really pleased with how quickly he's picked it up. Because he in a sense is a true freshman and here for the first time. We've not worked with him in the spring or anything else. I'm sure that he has talked to Kevin some, but a lot of it is just in the last two weeks how quickly he has learned and Coach Magee has remarked at how quickly Kelvin has picked up, some even little things. So I think it is a natural for him. It's been a good move."

Question: (Question from back of the room).

Coach Rodriguez: "I've been watching him for about a year and a half. I've always kind of teased him, because I'm a big fan of college basketball and Coach Beilein and watching him up and down the court, boy, he looks like a pretty good slot receiver or DB or something. I knew he has been a very good high school player. So we've been kind of teasing him and then when he was possibly looking at leaving, he approached us and we talked and we said lets give it a shot. Without any promises made or anything like that, let's give it a shot and see what happens. We'll give you the opportunity and so far…he hasn't played a game, but so far it has worked out okay."

Question: Was there any thought that he would play this year or did you think that…?

Coach Rodriguez: "Again, we didn't make any promises, we said, we'll give you an opportunity. You got to go in there and prove yourself. One think I did talk to him about is that if you are going to come over and try football, you better have passion for it and better love it, particularly if you are going to start in a weight program in the summer. You can't go in there half hearted and hope, oh geez, I kind of like it. I said, ‘you better develop a passion and love for the game and show that', because there is a lot of hard work, the same as in basketball. That was one thing we weren't sure of and I think the one thing that we've gotten answered more than anything in two weeks is that he has shown a passion for it and he is having a lot of fun with it."

Question: Rich did you take last year and put in a box and put it away?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah mostly. We talked about it very briefly at the beginning of camp and one thing is that we can't wait to start playing game so that we can quit talking about last year. I think you got to learn from it. You got to look back. Everybody brought it up for how many months it's been. We've addressed our issues and how we got to get better from it, learn from it and move on."

Question: What did you learn from it?

Coach Rodriguez: "Oh we learned some things. I learned what we got. I learned what we need to do in our program to get to the level that everybody wants and expects. As I've said numerous times, what you learn about your first year is invaluable as far as knowing exactly where your program stands. You can kind of get an idea before you play your first game, but you really don't know until you go through the season (and see) exactly where the program is, what you have, what you need to do to fix it. We think we've got the steps in motion to get it to where everybody wants it. Unfortunately it is not happening as fast as I or anybody else would like. I still feel as confident as ever that it is going to happen and I think our players and coaches do as well."

Question:How is the linebacker corps doing?

Coach Rodriguez:: "I think it is pretty good, but we don't have a lot of depth. That concerns us. We've got, Obi Ezeh has played a lot of football. Jonas Mouton has had a really good camp. He's played pretty well. Now we've got other guys, JB Fitzgerald is going to play and Kenny Demens is going to play. Moving Stevie Brown to where we did, I think has been a good move for him and I expect a big year out of him. Again, our depth is all freshman or redshirt freshman and that makes me nervous."

Question:: How good can be Obi be after his breakout season that he had last year?

Coach Rodriguez: "Obi is very, very conscience. He wants to be good. He wants to be a leader. Again, their all freshman in this new defense. Again, I'm not making excuses because we expect to play good in all phases, but this is their first year under Coach Robinson's system and I think they've learned it pretty well. I like some of the stuff we're doing scheme wise. We've told them. We hope to play a lot of people. I like to play 20, 22 people on defense. I don't know if we're comfortable doing that just yet. I know more in about a week or so. If we don't then other guys are going to have to play quite a bit of plays and be in shape to do so and I think they are ready for that."

Question: What about the kicker position?

Coach Rodriguez: "That's our goal too. Jason Olesnavage has come back for his fifth year and he has had a good camp. He's really kicked well. We've tried to put him under pressure situations where we run as many, we have so many sprints or something to run and for every one they make they reduce it by one. So we try to make them even more popular I guess or the other way and they've performed pretty well, they really have. Brendan Gibbons, a freshman who came in is competing pretty close with him. Bryan Wright has punted the ball pretty consistently, but he's still battling for the football job and then we have Kris Pauloski our walk on freshman that is battling there too. Jason and Brendan Gibbons are probably the top two right now and that competition is kind of like quarterback. It'll be ongoing and that one in particular we may not know until game time."

Question: You obviously had uncertainty last year with some of the young guys, do you have less uncertainty this year or is still curiosity or uncertainty?

Coach Rodriguez: "I had less uncertainty with the freshman I think because they haven't played in a game. Overall, I know at least what the other players or what we expect the other players to be able to perform at."

Question: With the stiff competition at running back, how much do you expect Brandon Minor to carry the load or do you think it is going to be running back by committee?

Coach Rodriguez: "Our philosophy in all positions and I think it is like that most places, the best guy plays. If you're the best guy on Tuesday and you have a bad day then on Wednesday somebody else is going to be playing. It is not like they always have to look over their shoulder, but if they are not going as hard and doing as well as they can, then we hope to have other people to put in and that is what competition is all about and they have to compete every day. Knowing Brandon and Carlos both, they love to compete, thy love football and I think they know that. I don't worry about having one guy. If you have one guy that clearly emerges and there were times last year it was Brandon when he was healthy. That's a good thing for him, but I really hope we have more than two. At tailback you have to have at least three and particularly in our offense because we do so many things with them. I think we'll have three."

Question: How is Brandon's health?

Coach Rodriguez: "He is okay. He got over a tweak in his ankle, so we held him out yesterday. He may practice tomorrow. He don't want to miss nothing. Brandon loves football and he doesn't want to miss anything. We almost have to tell him, Paul Schmidt our trainer has to tell him, listen we going to give that a rest Saturday, Sunday and maybe Monday and get you back out there Tuesday."

Question: Was his ankle what was wrong yesterday?

Coach Rodriguez:: "Yeah it was his ankle. It is more of a bruise than anything else."

Question: How does the return game look; has anybody stepped up?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well we've only done a little bit of live special teams that was yesterday. We'll do a little bit more this week. Again our biggest emphasis on kick return is just catching the ball, that was just a diaster. Guys if we just catch it, we'll be better. We had a lot of candidates back there. Guys that can return it, we feel pretty comfortable with that. Some of them are freshman but most of them have at least been guys that were in the fire a little bit last year."

Question: The punt return game?

Coach Rodriguez: "We got Tay Odoms and Greg Mathews can do it. Donovan Warren can it. So we feel pretty good that we have a couple of guys back there as well."

Question: A couple of freshman, Adrian Witty, anything further on him?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah still waiting on Witty with the clearinghouse thing. I believe the rest of the guys are here."

Question: Will Campbell, how is he progressing?

Coach Rodriguez: "He had a pretty good summer. He lost a little bit of a weight. He is battling inside at nose guard and I think we also playing him at some three technique. He's getting a whole lot of reps. We've been trying to get him ready. Again, there is a lot of expectations for Will, but again you got to remember, he's a freshman and he's here for the first time. He's going to play for us this year and I think he's got an outstanding career ahead of him."

Question: How do you feel that you are situated corner right now?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well corner is another position of concern just because we don't have a lot of experience there, a lot of depth. We got Donovan there and Boubacar (Cissoko); JT Floyd is a redshirt freshman that is going to play a lot of football and has had a pretty good camp for us. We moved Teric Jones, who we recruited as a slot receiver, we moved him to corner because we needed some combination there. Then JT Turner who got here a little bit late has been here the last week or so is getting in the mix as well. We're not as many…we have four or five guys getting a lot of reps. Tony Anderson, a walk on has had a good camp and is battling over there, but we are not as deep at corner as we need to be yet, but again we got two weeks left."

Question: What has Boubacar done; has he separated himself at all a little bit?

Coach Rodriguez: "Boubacar and Donovan are outstanding cover guys. Some corners don't like to play press and get in your face. You want ones that want to relish that and want to get in and play some press one on one, man coverage and be aggressive on the edge and both those guys have that kind of mentality."

Question: What has Greg Robinson has brought to your defense?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well Greg has got a lot of experience. This is not his first rodeo sort of speak. He's been around. He's got a good plan and I think he has done a good job with the defensive staff and them guys coming together with some packages and trying to recognize what our guys can and cannot do well. Again that is ongoing. I think the players respect where he has been, what's done and what he is trying to do now with them."

Question: The move you guys made with Stevie Brown, can you talk about what a hybrid position like that can do for a defense.

Coach Rodriguez: "Nowadays most coaches will tell you, you are playing a variety of offenses. People try to pigeon hole us and say they are this offense or that offense, but really everybody does about everything. Some teams may be more predominately spread formations than others, but everybody you play on your schedule is going to spread you out with three wide outs or four wideouts at least some of the time, if not all the time. So you'd better have some more athletic linebackers and guys down in a box that can cover slot receivers or tight ends in space and all that. So the move with Stevie was twofold, one to help him but more than anything to help us against those teams that want to spread us out in space. Those are things that hurt us, really the last couple of years, not just last year. Stevie, I think feels comfortable down there. So far in camp…I would expect him…he's only one of two seniors that we have starting on defense. He and Brandon Graham and I would expect Stevie to be a great leader for us and have a really good year for us."

Question: With turnovers being such a big part in so many games last year; what have you done specifically this year to address that?

Coach Rodriguez: "Did it last year too. We could hardly stress turnovers more than we did last year. It wasn't like we said, aw a guy fumbled, say you'll be alright sweetheart; we'll talk to you tomorrow. It couldn't have been emphasized more, but it has been a point of emphasis in 26 years of coaching, but last year was probably the most frustrated that I've ever been with how it happened and some of them were unforced. You don't want turnovers any time, but if a guy puts a hat on the ball and a guy has got it tucked high and tight and just makes a great hit right on the ball and it pops, well then, we understand a little bit. Now if you are carrying the ball loose or you just drop it for no reason, for whatever, then that is what's really frustrating. We had way too many of them last year. We talked quite a bit about turnovers and negative yard plays. Those are the two most important stats in football and if we can minimize those just a little bit; we want to minimize them a lot; we minimize a little bit, we're a lot better."

Question: Your programs have made big jumps from the first year to the second year; do you see signs?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, but again I won't know until we play. The only thing I have more apprehension is because of the youth. The big jump that we had, whatever it was at West Virginia and then a couple of other places, whether it was a coordinator or coach, we didn't have as much youth maybe in key roles as we do now. Its like I told the team last night, everybody said you going to do better, right coach? I hope so. What do you think, we're going to try and do worst. We're going to try to do as good as we can, and I do feel really good about the progress and the steps we made. But I felt good about the process and progress last year but it was frustrating because it wasn't showing up on Saturday and it wasn't to the level that it needed to be. From spring ball to summer conditioning and strength, Coach Barwis and his staff till the first two weeks of camp, I think there is a big difference in the progress and the things that we see daily."

Question: Rich how about first year in those programs versus last year; was the rebuild as big?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know if we had as many new offensive players. Again, I've not gone back and compared, but I don't ever remember replacing nine or 10 starters on offense and having that much inexperience offensively as we did last year. Again, I've not gone back and looked at that. That was, I don't want to say that was the only reason, but that was a big reason why there was some concern last year."

Question: Can you talk about Western Michigan, a veteran MAC team, obviously with a fifth year senior quarterback; what's it like getting ready for them?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think most the people predict them to be one or two in the league and compete for a championship. I've know Coach Cubit for quite some time. Back when I was at West Virginia a couple of years ago, I think it was my last year at Western Virginia, we opened up with them as well. So we know their program, he's done a great job. (Tim) Hiller is a great quarterback. Any coach will tell you, if you got a veteran quarterback and really one that can throw around like him, you've always got a chance to beat anybody. So it's got our player's attention. We're not thinking about anything…first we told thing about ourselves, now as we get into this week, we are starting to install or talking about Western and some of the things that they do on offense and defense and special teams and work into that daily, maybe as soon as tomorrow, practice and preparation for it."

Question: Coach can you talk about the potential and expectations that you have for Kevin Koger this season.

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah Kevin played last year as a true freshman at a difficult position, tight end. I think he is bigger, stronger, faster and knows what we want. I think Kevin should have an outstanding year. Another guy at tight end is Martell Webb, who has really come on. He played some last year and he's had a great summer and a really good camp. Now we got two guys, which is what we always want to have is two tight ends that we can count on. Their role has increased. Last year, they played quite a bit. A lot of people say we don't use a tight end; we used Kevin quite a bit last year. We'll use Kevin and Martell even more so this year. So both those guys, we feel pretty comfortable about our tight end position."

Question: How much have the guys on the offensive line had a chance to work together and gel?

Coach Rodriguez: "Quite a bit, because they've stayed healthy. We are lucky with that. We've made some moves. We moved (Steve) Schilling to guard. We've moved around a little bit in camp, but we are not moving them around much. We always try get our centers ready, so we've David Moosman and let him take some reps at center, but David Molk is our center, who is having a good camp. We still got an ongoing battle at right tackle. Mark Ortmann has had a solid camp at left tackle. We think David Molk is an outstanding center and Moose is a good player and he can play both center and guard. We got those young guys that really need to come on. At times at camp, they've done good and sometimes they've showed their inexperience. Hopefully in the next two weeks will be pretty good for them."

Question: Do you like your true freshman offensive lineman?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I really do. We have three scholarship freshman offensive lineman, I believe it's three, right. Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington and Michael Schofield and all three of them, again it is judging them early in camp, all three of them are going to be outstanding here. Now learning the techniques and getting the type of strength and conditioning that you got to have at this level is something, but I think all three of those….been really pleased with what they've shown in camp and excited about them for the future. We got some really good young players overall. Last year's recruiting class was pretty good, I think we had a month to recruit them. It was a solid class. I think this year's class is about what we thought. We're pretty excited about it. If we follow it up with another really good class as good or better the next two years, we'll be where we need to be."

Question: When you talk about the defense, you've used words like not being comfortable with depth and having concerns with depth; the other day you said that you were a couple of injuries away from having a shaky situation on the defensive line; is this a season where you kind of go in and hold your breath?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. We are holding our breath on both sides of the ball. When you have seniors and juniors players and backed up only by a handful of sophomore and freshman, then you probably have a program where you want it and having success and you just bring the young guys around slowly. We're not at that situation. We got what, two seniors starting on defense…I don't know, we have what 12 or 13 scholarship seniors, we are just not where we are going to be in a few years. Eventually that is why I think so excited for recruits, because we got a chance to go to Michigan and play earlier. We aren't guaranteeing them anything, but they probably see that opportunity and that opportunity three to four years from now might not be there. If we recruit right and develop right, there is going to be a lot of junior and seniors playing and only a handful of very talented young guys coming in. Right now it is wide open."

Question: When do you foresee a full complement of scholarships?

Coach Rodriguez: "We'll sign close to a full class. We're not at 85 now because of attrition and having some smaller classes. We could have signed a couple more slots last year, but we didn't fill them so we'll fill them this year. We should be at close to 85 next year. It'll be younger, but I don't think next year's senior class is extremely large, but in a couple of years, we'll be more senior and junior dominated and have smaller freshman classes. Again, you got to pick the right guys and recruit the right guys and develop them. That's the formula for any championship program."


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