"A Great Win for Michigan"

Rich Rodriguez's postgame comments on his team's 31-7 victory over Western Michigan in the season opener. Michigan's headman updates his injury situation, discusses the play of his freshmen QBs, looks ahead to next week's match-up with Notre Dame, and more. The full transcript.

Question:  Can you talk about how young you guys were… I know you were wondering…maybe you were playing coy…they were so impressive today; was that something you saw in practice?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No, I don't play coy.  We had two true freshman playing quarterback that doesn't happen very often at this level and I thought they were pretty composed and there was a lot of teachable moments, which we'll get better at each week."

Question:  How impressive was it to have two young guys come in and play in the game, play so clean, and really seem to grasp things…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know if it was completely clean during the week.  There is a lot to the system and there is a lot involved that the quarterback has to make a decision on just about every snap both run and pass and both of them made some really good decisions and there were other times were we will coach them up get it better.  We put a lot of pressure on them in practice to make those same decisions and they've executed pretty well in practice.  You hope it carries over to the game but what you don't know is a 107,000 and national TV; how many jitters you're going to have, especially in the first game and they handled it pretty well."

Question: Were the 31 points in the first half indicative of what this offense can do?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I hope.  We executed pretty well, but even in the first half there was a couple of drive we could have cleaned up.  The second half, the third quarter was a little strange because there really was only two or three drives in the whole quarter and then we had a touchdown called because of holding.  We have to be in rhythm sometimes offensively.  We had a few holding penalties that got us out of our rhythm and we've got to be able to stay with them get better."

Question:  That first touchdown from Tate (Forcier) a lot of young quarterbacks might have taken off and run that, he said back…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Sometimes it's okay to take off and run.  Everybody wants the guy that quarterbacks the center and throw it, well if you got everybody dropping back, maybe its okay to take off and run.  I thought one of the best things that Tate did was the times when he did take off and run when everybody was covered."

Question:  Did you have any idea this offense would be this explosive this quickly?  

Coach Rodriguez:  "I saw moments of this in camp.  We were hoping we could get out of the gates well because we had seen this against our defense and our defense I thought was pretty good.  There were moments in camp that our offense was really executing pretty well.  Again, you hope you see it in the first game.  Happy with the first happy, probably not as crazy the second half.  It's a good win for our guys.  They earned it.  They're eager to prove themselves and they move on to a great club next week."

Question:  In July you said you were concerned about the defense.  What are your thoughts now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm still concerned about depth on defense.  I'll watch the film and see exactly where we can improve that at.  I thought the first half was phenomenal.  I don't know what Western (Michigan) had the first half total offense but our defense had a whole bunch of three and outs.  They had pressure on the ball, tackled well.  Second half not so much, but we'll watch the film and see what happened.  We've got to develop more depth.  We got 12 straight games with no open dates.  We were hoping to get more people in the game today.  We played quite a few particularly at the end, but we're going to need more of these guys as we go along."

Question:  How about the job your defensive backs did?

Coach Rodriguez:  "They tackled well.  We gave up a few plays, but they were in a lot of man situations, the corners especially were on an island a few times and they really tackled well.  We gave up a play or two, but I thought our corners tackled pretty well.  I thought we got pretty good pressure.  (Tim) Hiller is a talented guy.  He's a smart quarterback.  He'll find the open receiver and it was important for us to try and get pressure on him and get him on the ground."

Question:  Can you talk just a little bit about the day and your feelings with the fan support and when the crowd in the third quarter was starting Rich Rodriguez and at the end of the game as well.

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's unbelievable.  I can't thank the fans enough how they supported the football team and they always have, 100 and some thousand.  The thousands and thousands of people that was lined up on the Victor's Walk.  It sent chills down all our young men's spines.  They were into the game from the very start and we've got tremendous fan support, tremendous following.  We've felt it all week.  I felt it.  Our players have felt it and it was good for them to have a little fun today."

Question:  Was it personal in nature for you to hear and for you to know and there were signs that said ‘In Rod We Trust.'

Coach Rodriguez:  "Like I said.  As a coach and as a person you can't…it's amazing the support that we have gotten.  They can say my name, but it is really for Michigan.  We talked all week about winning and winning for Michigan and that's what this game was for – it was a win for Michigan.  Our guys played for Michigan and we take great pride in that."

Question:  In light of the week that you had personally, does this mean anything?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It was a win for Michigan, and a great win for Michigan."

Question:   Did you have any injuries?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Mark Moundros; I have to see, I've not talked to him.  I saw him after the game and he seemed fine, but I think he got dinged a little bit.  Boubacar Cissoko, he had a shoulder or nerve problem and he probably could have gone back into the game but we'll probably have to rest him a little bit.  Brandon Minor did not play.  He looked okay in warm ups, but he wasn't 100%, so hopefully this week he'll be able to go."

Question:  Do you think everything that happened, do you think it pushed your team a little bit and made your maybe a little bit tighter?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think our team is pretty tight.  I say that and I'm not saying it because we won because the game, I'm saying it because I've seen it for nine months.  Our teams started to come together like this in January.  I saw it through spring practice.  I saw it come further even more in the first three weeks of camp and I saw it even more this week.  I don't know if this situation galvanized them even more; I thought they were pretty tight to begin with.  If it galvanized them more, then it galvanized them more.  They were going to be hungry to play and prove themselves based on what they've heard in the last nine months."

Question:  How is Junior Hemingway?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think Junior is okay.  He had a great ballgame.  It's nice to have junior healthy.  He and Greg Mathews are two big physical receivers on the corner that gives us another dimension."

Question:  Was there a sense of relief to get out on the field after last year?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I think there was a sense of relief for the players.  They're all tired of all the drama.  They came here to go to school, get a great degree, and play football. They're not here for all that drama.  I'm here to try to lead young men to get their degree and win championships.  I'm not here for all that drama.  So we're not here for drama, we're here for the other thing.  So it was good to play the game and dismiss the drama."

Question:  How about Craig Roh's play?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He got some good pressure.  He made a start, which is very rare to have a true freshman start at D-end, at the quick position.  I know he was really nervous before hand and I know he's a little bit relieved, he had a big smile on his face after the game.  It was fun to watch him run around.  He's got a lot of talent.  He's going to be a great player for us."

Question:  Do you think that's about how your quarterback thing will unfold?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We played it by ear.  I don't know how it is going to develop.  I think, our goal is for all those guys to continue to get better and better each week.  You should make great improvement from your first week to your second week and we got a lot of teaching to do.  Tate didn't have a flawless game, but he played awfully well.  Denard (Robinson) certainly made some mistakes, but he also made some plays.  Those guys will play faster as they get more game experience.  I don't know how it is going to play out, but we're going to continue to play all three."

Question:  What about the tempo that you guys established on offense?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I thought it was important for us to get first downs.  I've said this many times, when we're getting first down, we make them play at least three more plays and that's a big key for us.  One of the keys in the first half (was) that we got some drives where we were getting first downs.  We didn't get a lot of big plays, but we got first downs and that gave us three more plays and made them play three more plays and our guys I think our guys are in pretty good shape."

Question:  With the crowd buzzing, how key was it to keep that momentum going?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well the crowd was in the game.  I think our fans are tired of all that talk and just watch football and enjoy the experience of being in the Big House and to have the crowd that we had in a beautiful day and to reward them with some decent football in the first half was pretty nice."

Question:  So that game didn't mean anything different or special to you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "A nice win for Michigan and maybe I'll sleep two hours tonight."

Question:  Have you seen this out of Junior?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We saw this out of Junior last year and he was really never healthy.  Junior is one of the better athletes on the team.  He's probably in the best shape of his career.  He was able to stay healthy the whole camp and made the practice.  He's an explosive guy that can go up and get the ball.  He and (LaTerryal) Savoy, Greg Mathews and (Daryl) Stonum; we got four guys that have played quite a  bit of football."

Question:  Did it sound louder to you in there?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's always loud.  It's hard not to be loud with 110,000…I think it's nice for our young men.  When you're playing well and making big plays in all three phases, you're going to get the crowd into the game and with the way that our beautiful stadium structure is now, I think we're keeping the noise in a little bit and as long as we do our part and make plays, it'll be the best atmosphere in the country."

Question:  How did Kelvin Grady make the transition from basketball to football?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  I don't know how many catches he had.  He may have had one drop and one or two mistakes, but I was really pleased with him.  Again, he wasn't going to be noticed because he's played in a big arena in basketball right over here.  I've been really pleased with him and it gives us a nice comfortable feeling to have him and Tay Odoms at that slot."

Question:  On limiting penalties and turnovers…

Coach Rodriguez:  "That's exactly right.  That was one of our biggest points of emphasis and probably the biggest key to us and this season is eliminating the turnovers and negative yards.  We had the one turnover that cost us.  The negative yardage plays, the only thing that got me upset was the penalties.  We had the three holding penalties and one took away a touchdown – we've got to eliminate them.  At least running the football, we were getting positive yards.  I thought our guys did a good job on some short yardage situations, getting some first downs, that's going to be a key for us."

Question:  What are your impressions on Notre Dame coming in next week?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah they've got a great ballclub.  I know they've been talking about BCS opportunities and they've got a veteran quarterback, a veteran group.  It's going to be a challenge.  They may have as much talent as anybody on our schedule.  It's a big rivalry game.  It won't be hard to get either team up for it.  We've got to play better than we did today to win, but I think our guys will be ready for the challenge.  I hope we can execute better and we can see what happens."

Question:  On Tate Forcier's ability to scramble and make plays on the run.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Tate has kind of a knack of being able to create some vision because he's not the tallest guy.  We don't have all of our route packages in there.  I think the few that we do, he understands pretty well.  He and Denard are really going to get better as they understand more and more, our offense and where everybody is at and sometimes they can scramble and run and sometimes scramble and throw.  That's just maturity of a quarterback.  I would expect them to keep getting better, but there is also going to be moments where they are going to face adversity.  Now by no means am I going to stand in front of you and tell you that they are not going to make mistakes, because they're going to face some challenges and some quality guys in the next few weeks."

Question:  What did you think of the offensive line? 

Coach Rodriguez:  "I thought pretty good.  There was a time or two we gave up some pressure on some four man rushes, but until I watch the film, I don't know, but I thought we were okay, especially in the first half.  The second half, I really wasn't happy with anything." 


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