Smith Gives QB Play Passing Marks

Michigan QB coach Rod Smith evaluates the play of his young signal callers, talks about necessary improvements, and looks ahead to Saturday's contest with Notre Dame.

Question:  Calvin Magee said that the thing that he really appreciated about their play today was when there were plays to be made, they made the plays; can you just elaborate on that a little bit?

Rod Smith:  "I just think our guys, they've got a pretty good grasp.  Tate's (Forcier) got a good grasp of what we're doing obviously.  Went out there and got the lead and Shoelace (Denard Robinson) has done a good job, is doing a good job.  You can see where he uses his legs and makes some plays, but also throws well too.  It's exciting – they're working hard."

Question:  Did we really see the best of what both these kids can do?  I mean Tate can improvise and throw and Denard can take off and run 40 yards when he fumbles the ball.

Rod Smith:  "It's fun isn't it.  It's what they're supposed to do.  We'd like them to be able to do both.  We want to be dual threats for that reason."

Question:  How happy were you; Rich said he wanted to get all three quarterbacks in the game and you were able to get all three quarterbacks in the game?

Rod Smith:  "Actually played four.  It was good.  I was happy.  As we keep on going, we just have to keep getting better each week and just keep working."

Question:  Can you talk about Tate's first touchdown?

Rod Smith:  "It's worth six points (laughter).  It was good.  He did a great job of evading pressure, scrambling left, just scramble-drill.  Our guys work on it and he made a good throw.  I think Junior (Hemingway) made the catch? He did a good job of staying with him and working."

Question:  It seems like maybe when Denard dropped back to pass he was still thinking run first; is that something that you have to work on with him or is that what you want from him?

Rod Smith:  "A lot of it was design.  We called a lot of designed runs.  He's not a guy that you just call design runs and that's it.  He can do more.  We wanted to get his feet wet, get the butterflies out and then kind of ease him into the flow a little bit.  Probably just keep working.  He needs to learn his reads sometimes.  He missed a couple of reads -- but for the most part I thought he did well for his first game."

Question:  You've known Rich Rodriguez for a long time ... everything that has been going on this week; what do you think it meant to him ... they were chanting his name at different points, the student section was really supporting him today.

Rod Smith:  "Obviously it's always touching.  I've known Rich for a long time. He's got great pride in what he does and for the people that he works with, the guys, the players that play underneath ... he always has.  He's a real human being.  I'm sure it felt good.  It felt good for him, I did notice, it felt good for him."

Question:  How good was the first half feel in terms of letting people that this isn't last year?

Rod Smith:  "I thought it felt great.  Just a different feel and a different attitude.  Not that last year was bad, I'm just saying that it's different.  It's going in the direction that we want, and I could sense that the first half.  We got to do a better job in the second half.  We got out of rhythm a little bit.  Maybe we shuffled the quarterbacks too much, I don't know.  We want to get some reps and that was a good time for some guys to get some playing time."

Question:  When you are shuffling quarterbacks, would you rather have them continuing to finish their drives or do you want to continue to have them come in?

Rod Smith:  "It's a feel thing.   We tell them to never look over their shoulder.  You don't want that, having them worried about making a mistake and getting pulled; it's never that.  It's more of a feel thing, more of what type of flow of the offense we're in, and kind of go from there.  The second half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of holding penalties and different things and kind of disrupted the flow at times, and we missed some reads as quarterbacks.  It was a couple of different things -- but at the same time, the first half was pretty good."

Question:  Denard's first touchdown was a designed handoff wasn't it?

Rod Smith:  "It was actually supposed to be a reverse.  It was a reverse with him running to the left and then he was going to get a reverse back around, but it was a bad snap and he kind of went with the snap, and he just improvised and he did pretty good."

Question:  Did he amaze you? Tate says he's not impressed because he sees it all the time.

Rod Smith:  "He doesn't amaze me… maybe the first time whenever you see him in high school and you're recruiting him, you say, 'Hey this kid is pretty good.'  Amazing the first time, when you watch him against live college competition, against our defense ... but when you see it every day, you know there is a good chance that it could happen."

Question:  How big of a difference when you have quarterbacks recruited to the system ... just the tempo, how it runs; is it a big difference for you guys?

Rod Smith:  "It looks like it.  Absolutely, those guys are recruited for this system.  Not that the other guys can't do it, it is just a matter of you got to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, but these guys are better suited I think than what we had as a unit last year.  Nick (Sheridan) did a good job.  Nick went in there.  He just had some bad luck.  He made a great pull on his own read and scored a touchdown and we get a damn holding call.  Then he had a guy open and he just kind of threw behind him a little bit, but I thought he did a good job."

Question:  How much more confidence do you have now knowing that this position is a position of strength?

Rod Smith:  "I wouldn't call it strength yet because we're still young.  We're still learning the game.  It's a situation where I think we're better, but I wouldn't call it a strength yet, because we still have got so much football to learn.  Remember now, those are true freshman! I wouldn't call it a strength yet, but I think they give us some pop that we didn't have last year."

Question:  What's the biggest thing that they are going to have to learn this week at practice for Notre Dame?

Rod Smith:  "Correct the mistakes that we made.  Understand that they were a good team, but now we've got a better team coming in, a more powerful team, 'much less' a rival.  Understand, look at what we did last year and see how we laid a couple of gifts down -- we can't afford to do that if we are going to be in this ball game.  You got a good team coming in, hell somebody picked them to play in the national championship, so the young guys have got to be prepared."

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