Question: Do you know who you are going to start at quarterback yet?
Coach Rodriguez: "I'm closer to having an idea. I've talked to them and talked about having three starting quarterbacks. Again, I'm not 100% sure who is going to take the first snap, but I'm 100% sure that we have a plan in place and have different, I guess modes or methods on how we are going to put them in there. I don't want them ever to go in and I said this before, worry about if I make a mistake, I'm coming out. They're learning the whole offense everybody (wind noise) freshman. We'll have a plan in place. I'm excited because again, our plan is to play all three of them."
Question: Will that decision come this week or before game time?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah they'll know. The kids will know before the game, but I'll probably not make it public. Why tell anybody, I don't think it matters either. I'm sure if you asked Western (Michigan), they'll tell you that it doesn't matter who the quarterback is, they're going to defend the offense not a particular quarterback, especially in the first game."
Question: Is that just to take the pressure off of the starter especially if it is…?
Coach Rodriguez: "Well most of it is because the battle's ongoing. Yesterday was a really good practice. It was full pads and pretty competitive. Today, part of it is in pads for the lineman but it is not as a competitive practice. That's why I said, we're kind of honing it down and getting an idea, not just at quarterback but some other positions."
Question: How many guys are still in the mix to start at quarterback?
Coach Rodriguez: "Three."
Question: How has morale been?
Coach Rodriguez: "Been great. Yesterday was maybe one of the best practices we've had in the last three weeks. Monday they seemed very focused. We had a great team meeting last night. We talked about…school is getting started next week, so we talked about school getting ready to start and getting fired up for the game. Our guys are very, very focused. It's game week, you'd expect that."
Question: Has there been somebody or some group of guys who've stepped up and been more vocal than usual?
Coach Rodriguez: "No not really. It's been the same. Our guys are business as usual. We have a small senior class but those few seniors that we have on offense and defense have done a great job of leadership, and I think they recognize that. It was business as usual practice yesterday and everybody feels good. We're pretty healthy. Brandon Minor is still limping around a little bit. We are concerned whether he can go Saturday. We're hoping he can. The next two days will determine that. Other than that, we're a healthy football team with our veterans and that's a good thing."
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah it's an ankle. We'll see how he moves around the next couple of days."
Question: Could you just talk about the dynamics it is to play against a Mid American team, where you guys are basically if you win, you beat a Mid American Conference team and if you lose…?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah their kind of…some people look at them in a no lose situation. At this level, and I've said it many times without a playoff at the end of the year, which I like the system the way we have it, maybe having a plus one, but every game is a playoff and the MAC teams have proven over the years, not just against us, but they can not only be very competitive but win. We are playing a veteran quarterback (Tim Hiller), a veteran ballclub and we know we're going to get their best shot. Our guys are excited and they know the challenge that Western has. They've seen the film. We've talked about it all week."
Question: Have you awarded any scholarships to the walk-ons in the last week or two?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yes we have and I like to announce some of them but there are a few others may get one and so I don't want to upset the other ones. There has been a handful and they're really excited. You know being a former walk-on, I think the day you get a scholarship and even though they are one year scholarships, the day you get one is a great moment in life; you can remember that and you can remember where you are when it happened because that's one of your goals. It's not the end all, but it is a goal for them. So several of them have been told and there are probably several more hopefully, because we have a few more spots in the next week or so."
Question: Can you tell your story of when you got yours.
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, it was after my first year. It's funny because when you can remember it, my old mentor Don Nehlen, who used to coach here, we were stretching a week before, getting ready to play Oklahoma in our opening game and it was my second year and that was kind of like for us, my financial aid, it was kind of critical to get at that time. I had one more year to kind of prove myself and he walked up right when we were stretching and I can remember, he said, ‘hey want don't you talk to me after practice; we're going to give you a scholarship. It's just one year. You're going to have to keep proving yourself, but you're going to have one'. I thought boy I'm going to have a good day today. I think I had a good practice that day."
Question: Is Kelvin (Grady) one of those guys?
Coach Rodriguez: "Kelvin Grady is already on scholarship, yes."
Question: As far as you said on Monday 120 to 125 guys are "All In"; there was a report in the Detroit Examiner that Greg Matthews was the guy who spoke to the media.
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, I'm not going to talk about Monday, but Greg has had a good camp. He's been healthy. Our veteran receivers, which has really been good. They've been really helping each other and Greg…I think Greg is poised for an outstanding senior year. He's in great shape and again, he like all of our guys, they've shown us everything that we've wanted to see from them in the last three weeks and the last seven months, so I'm excited for him, as I am for the rest of the seniors."
Question: If Minor can't go who do you anticipate starting?
Coach Rodriguez: "Carlos Brown. Carlos will be the starter but Mike Shaw was going to play, Vincent Smith is going to play and Kevin Grady is going to play. All those guys are taking a majority of the reps."
Question: As far as quarterback, what are you going to look for these next few days to determine who will be the guy taking the first snap on Saturday?
Coach Rodriguez: "A little bit might be field position, a little bit may be for us. Okay what are we opening up the game with. What kind of series of plays, what part of the offense do we want to approach the opening couple of series with. That'll probably make that determination. The rest of it is by flow or field."
Question: Have you addressed that report with Greg at all?
Coach Rodriguez: "We are going to talk about Western."
Question: What about the home field how important it is to get this Big House home field advantage back.
Coach Rodriguez: "Oh yeah. I'll try to get a lot of things back. We have such great fan following, such tremendous support. Our fans are amazing and we want to reward them. They want to see good football. Our guys are committed to that. They all know how important it is to get off to a good start and let our fans see good football and again what I've seen in practice leads us to that. We are going to face some adversity. I told the guys, we got some young guys at different spots. It's our first game. There are going to be mistakes, but let's not worry about that, but we need to get everybody's best effort and I think you'll see that."
Question: You talked about adversity; have you been having a lot of phone calls the last couple of days; (Jim) Tressel came out yesterday on the….?
Coach Rodriguez: "I've had a lot of coaches that have reached out and you normally get that your first game. I've got a lot of friends in the business and a lot of good people out there. The support from our fans has been tremendous and the player's parents and a lot of the players, their really focused and excited. We have a great group of young men and we have a great group of young men that have great parents. It's amazing that the parents that support our team and their son and everything we're trying to do."
Question: Over the years, what have you learned about personally powering through weeks like this?
Coach Rodriguez: "You just go and you do what you're hired to do. You grind away and coach these young men, get together with your coaches. That's what you always do, you stay focused on the task at hand. The task at hand for us is Western Michigan, this season and our coaches and players are all doing that."
Question: Have you ironed out the offensive line starters and kicking?
Coach Rodriguez: "The kicker, it appears that Jason Olesnavage will be the starting kicker, again that is kind of ongoing, but he will probably get the first opportunities. On the O-line, I think we're pretty settled. For the most part on the O-line, I don't think it is any different than it is on the depth chart is listed. We have a little bit more depth than we had up front with some young guys that were either redshirted or injured and now they are going to have a chance to play."
Question: Coach with your quarterbacks, when you do play them do you plan on keeping them in there for a series or could you rotate different plays in with different guys?
Coach Rodriguez: "Generally you'll keep them in a series especially if we are in a rhythm, but there are maybe different plays that maybe we'll put them in and out of."
Question: Shoelace (Denard Robinson) Wildcat?
Coach Rodriguez: "No. He's running the offense. We don't have just like a ‘Wildcat' package for Shoelace or different package for Nick (Sheridan) or Tate (Forcier). There are some plays, again some of them run better than others, and we'll kind of play that by ear."
Question: You went from minus eight in turnover margin to +19 in year one to year two at West Virginia; would you take that here?
Coach Rodriguez: "No question. Not only that. We've talked more about not having negative yardage plays and turnovers. The turnovers not only offensively, but what can we create defensively and that is the biggest stat without question. The other one is just not having negative yardage plays. I know the officials talked to us about how they are going to officiate games now and about holding and grabbing, so we worked hard on our guys not holding, not grabbing. That is going to be an issue, I'm sure all season, making sure that our guys are responding to that deal. I think for us, we've taken care of the ball in camp. I'm trying to remember if we took care well in camp last year and I think we did. We've really taken care of it this camp. I haven't seen hardly any balls on the ground and that's a good thing."
Question: The quarterback situation, is it more that just nobody has stood out?
Coach Rodriguez: "No it's not. I understand the question, all three of them have done well in spurts. Its just no one has really separated themselves and said, hey he is solid (wind noise) that guy, he's going to take all the reps. I didn't expect it to be. You thought maybe it would happen but that did not happen that way. So it may have to happen that way in the game. You find out more in the ballgame. That's why the first game, the first couple of games, you find out more about what you have on your team and what you need to adjust to."
Question: Tate doesn't have more compared to the rest in practice?
Coach Rodriguez: "Oh we get a lot of reps in practice. We get a lot of reps because of our pace and because of our structure. Most teams normally don't give your second team as many reps as we do. We give our second team as many as our first group. With the number of reps we get in, in a faster tempo and the way we structure our practice, they got a lot of reps in."
Question: You referred yesterday to Nick as safe; does that just mean more experience?
Coach Rodriguez: "Knowing the offense, and not only knowing the offense. The phases of a quarterback, you got to know what you do, the next phase is to know what they do and the third phase is to know what we need to and guess what they do. Nick being in the system for 18 months or whatever it has been, knows that the best and he'll increase that. The young guys, as time goes on, the season goes on, they'll learn that too. Nick, you can tell Nick has a pretty good grasp of what we want: he knows, okay this is what the answer should be to that defensive scheme."
Question: You anticipate letting them know Thursday night?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I'll probably talk to them either Thursday night or Thursday afternoon."
Question: Brandon Minor you're saying may not go Saturday?
Coach Rodriguez: "We don't know yet. He's questionable right now."
Question: Is he practicing today?
Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. He may be limited. We'll see what happens."
Full Transcript: Coach Rod
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