Rich Rod's Mid-Week Update (Week 2)

Rich Rodriguez met with the media today and discuss his team as they prepare for Saturday's match-up with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Michigan's headman updates Brandon Minor's injury status, discusses the play of Craig Roh and Donovan Warren, shares his thoughts on Irish QB Jimmy Clausen, and much much more.


Question:  You can't talk injuries, but is Brandon Minor is practicing?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah he's practicing.  He's been a little limited, but he did more yesterday than he did last week.  I could talk about it but it's a waste of time."

Question:  How does (Jimmy) Clausen look compared to a year ago?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I thought he looked pretty good last year, but certainly the last couple of games he's had and last weekend, he was extremely sharp.  He's a very talented young man.  He understands the offense and this will be his third year as a starter.  He's got the skilled guys around him.  They got a lot of experience up front in the O-line.  He's playing at a high level."

Question:  When you have a quarterback like that who is so sharp like that, how do you get him off his game?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Certainly have got to try and make him one dimensional if you can.  You can't let them run the football and be in short yardage situations because they are very good at play action.  You know that they are going to take some deep ball shots.  If they get one on one match ups, they love to throw deep up to their wide receivers and make some plays.  So we got to be prepared for that.  If you play soft, they are going to take hitches and slants underneath.  We've got to break on the ball and try to do some things to create some pressure and not let him get comfortable."

Question:  Have you seen any outward signs of confidence that the guys have drawn from Saturday and do you try to bring them off of that and say hey, it's all about this weekend?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think they understand.  I want them to get some confidence, particularly young players that are playing for the first time and have had some success.  But there is enough mistakes made on film that our guys know they got a lot of work do to do.  It was a good solid win but after one day of looking at the film, we've moved on.  This is a bigger challenge for us and we got to play a whole lot better to win this one."

Question:  At both schools, the coaches are high profiled positions whether the coaches like it or not; do you embrace or does that just…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "That comes with the territory.  I don't think it is anything that any coach at this level of high profiled schools doesn't expect.  It is part of the deal and you understand when you get in those positions.  It is not anything that is overwhelming or anything that coaches or assistant coaches don't understand or the players.  I think if you go to school like a Michigan or Notre Dame, you understand that you're in a high profile big stage situation and you've got to handle yourself accordingly."

Question:  I know you talked about Craig Roh a little bit the other day, but just how advanced is he compared to most freshman that come in with technique…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He's a very intelligent guy.  He's a 4.0 student.  So it has probably helped him to learn that much in three and a half to four weeks of practice.  Normally you very rarely see a true freshman play that position but his intelligence helps.  He has got a high motor.  He's a guy that loves football and he plays so hard on every snap.  So the adjustment to the intensity of college football maybe wasn't as big for him as maybe some other guys coming out because he is accustomed to playing in that type of intensity.  Was he nervous Saturday; I'm sure he was real nervous, but he played pretty well and the future is extremely bright for Craig."

Question:  Where is he in some of the other aspects of his game, the pass drops; outside of pass rush?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He's very good technically.  He's been well coached in high school.  He has an outstanding high school program, he is very well coached.  You can tell he's been to a lot of camps.  As I've mentioned before technique wise, Coach Tall I'm sure has taught him a few things, but he had a pretty good skill set coming, particularly in rushing the passer."

Question:  Potentially how much of a swing game do you think this is for both teams?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think it's always a big game.  From what I understand it has always been played early in the year and it has made a big impact.  For us, I don't want to speak for them, but it is not the end all to be all.  We've got a lot of work to do with a lot of young players.  It sure would be nice to get another win and get even more confidence.  I want us to play well.  I want us compete.  If they are going to beat us, I want it is because they are clearly better than us.  I don't want Michigan to beat Michigan.  We've talked about that quite a bit."

Question:  Is this game a better measuring stick for your team than last weeks?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know.  I think every game is a measuring stick, every week.  Not just in the game but in practice; the game is what everybody else judges it by.  I don't want to say that this is better than last week.  Last week was a big game for us.  This week is a bigger game particularly because it is Notre Dame, a rivalry game for us."

Question:  Why do you think you had more success offensively with Notre Dame last year than maybe some other teams?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We executed okay at times last year, particularly with the weather, but we just didn't take care of the football.  If we had taken care of the football better, I would have been a lot more pleased from an offensive standpoint.  We did run the ball well and we picked up some of their schemes and blitzes pretty well and got a few big plays but it was unfortunate that we had some of those critical turnovers that really cost us the game."

Question:  Will the quarterback rotation get tightened up a little bit in this one if it is a close game?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't have a set plan.  Tate (Forcier) will take the first snap.  Denard (Robinson) is going to play and we plan on playing Nick (Sheridan) as well.  I think each week what we want to do is add more of the offense.  Last week, we ran the regular offense in the first half and not as much in the fourth quarter.  I'd like to add more to our offense.  We need to as the season goes on."

Question:  With flu being an issue everywhere at all colleges what are you guys doing (to prevent it from becoming a problem)?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We've talked about that as a staff.  Obviously we remind our guys to wash their hands and we have hand sanitizer.  They clean the building, clean the locker rooms thoroughly every day.  When you have 120 guys all together sometimes you worry about that quite a bit, because they are in close quarters and they do spend al to of time together in the weight room, the locker room and those areas.  We've taken all the precautions that we have.  We've been lucky so far, but if there is an issue, I think our training staff is prepared for it."

Question:  Nobody has the flu right now?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Nobody has it as far as I know."

Question:  Stevie Brown is essentially your nickel back too; was that by design part of the reason you moved him?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We moved him down, because a couple of reasons, one, we thought that was a position we thought that he would be really good at and two, because of all the spread formations and offenses that we are facing.  We thought it would be natural to have him down there.  He's played really well.  He played well early in the spring.  Last week, he played well.  He made five or six plays in a row in yesterday's practice for instance.  I'm so proud of the way he's adapted and learned the position.  He and Brandon Graham being our two seniors on defense, we need great years out of them and they started off really well."

Question:  Just not having to rotate, run somebody in and off the field in those third down situations…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "That's exactly right.  Stevie is athletic enough to cover a wide out and certainly athletic enough to cover a back or tight end.  It gives us the flexibility to run some different packages without having to substitute."

Question:  Why do you think this position fits him better?

Coach Rodriguez:  "He was solid at safety, but I think what we are doing now with this position; he's a big physical guy.  Closer to the ball where he has a chance to maybe make more impact on a play.  Sometimes on the back end you are only making plays when things break through.  When you're up closer to the ball, he can make an impact on the game at a quicker standpoint."

Question:  What are you looking for out of your defensive backs in practices leading up?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well individually this week, we got to be ready for a lot of deep balls.  We've worked hard at that.  They are going the ball up and they do a great job of going up and getting and again if we play too soft, they'll throw hitches and slants underneath of us.  We've got to be prepared to be challenged from some very talented wide outs and a quarterback that has kind of seen it all."

Question:  Donovan (Warren) said he wasn't too shaken up by a couple of PI (pass interference) that he got the other day?

Coach Rodriguez:  "There was one that we questioned.  I think it was both guys were fighting for position and the other one, whether it was a little early or not, I don't know.  As a corner particularly when you're on a island quite a bit, sometimes calls will go your way and sometimes they are not.  Veteran guys shake it off whether it is for them against them."

Question:  You don't mind it as long as he is being aggressive?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We want our guys to be aggressive.  If it is a technique issue or something like that and they don't correct it, but our guys are pretty conscience and again they got challenged quite a bit.  This will be a bigger week for them, so we'll see."

Question:  Rich are you seeing more and more defenses to counteract the spread going with the sort of hybrid athletes, getting away from some of the MIKE linebacker types?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We really are.  We are seeing more and more speed type of emphasis on defense.  Everybody wants a fast defense, but you're seeing more of the nickel back playing on an every down basis as opposed to just being on third and long and second and long.  A lot of guys are putting that fifth DB and sometimes that sixth DB or they are taking the more athletic linebackers and even playing them at the MIKE position.  We've seen that trend really for about three or four years now.  That is more prevalent now than it has ever been."

Question: Your team had a good spring game (wind noise).  How do you think you respond if Tate goes out and throws a pick on the first drive?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think again when you're young and everything is kind of new for you, you'll probably bounce back a little quicker.  Tate's all hard on himself as all those guys are.  They make a mistake in practice even before we try to correct them, they're already shaking their head knowing what they did wrong.  I think that is the first step in the maturation of a player is understanding what you did wrong and be willing to be corrected and Tate is like that.  Tate's his harshest critic a lot of times.  He's not going to panic.  I don't want the guys looking over their shoulder.  If they make a mistake they are going to come out, but hopefully we can keep them to a minimum.  Again, if we are just better in the turnover category itself this year, we'll field a better football team."

Question:  There was a play early in the game, the first couple of series, where Tate was clearly on the ground and took a shot to the head; do you remember that play in particular?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I know he got hit one time after he scrambled.  I don't think it is intentional to the head.  Tate got hit a little bit early in camp and since then we haven't let our quarterbacks get hit too much.  I don't want to say I want them to get hit because you never want your quarterback to get hit, but sometimes it kinds of gets them nerves out of them and he bounced up pretty well.  Our guys are pretty tough guys.  I don't want them taking unnecessary shots, but there are times that our quarterbacks have to run, and we want them running and getting first downs and making big plays."


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