Rich Rod Preaches Perspective

Rich Rodriguez on his team's thrilling victory over Notre Dame, what it means to him and his program, Tate Forcier's play, how proud he is of his players, and more.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Good day.  Well that was fun.  I'm really proud of our young men.  What a tremendous atmosphere.  The crowd was in it from the time we got off the bus obviously until the end.  Our young guys kept battling, nobody panicked at any time.  They got some really good players.  They did a great job.  They played hard.  Our guys played and it came down to the last play and thankfully it was a great day for Michigan."

Question:  I know you believe that you've been leading this whole program forward and everything progressed, does a win like this validate that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think that's for other people to judge.  It means we're 2 and 0 and our guys, the hard work and the perseverance and the attitude and the chemistry of our guys I think showed.  We got a long season.  We got 10 more games with no open dates.  I said last year and every since the season was over that we would win more when we deserved more.  I thought that both teams deserved to win today, but we deserved to win as well as they did and thankfully we made one more play."

Question:  Rich when you were recruiting Tate (Forcier) did you sense that…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yep that's why we signed him (laughter).  What you saw today is what we saw on film.  Normally 99 times out of 100, what you see on film in recruiting is what you're going to get.  What we seen out of Tate is what we got and we seen out of Denard (Robinson) is what we are going to get.  Tate's a unique individual.  Some guys when things are going crazy around him, you can see them change their personality.  Tate's just the opposite.  We're getting ready to get on the bus…his room was right outside of mine at the hotel and everybody is real tense and quiet and getting ready to get up on the bus and Tate coming walking like this and said, ‘aw, I forgot to brush my teeth'.  He goes back in the room…that's what he's thinking about as we're getting on the bus and getting ready to come over to the Big House.   So Tate is easy, but he's thinking football all the time.  He's a unique individual and he has got a lot of guys around him making plays and as it said, it was a great team effort."

Question:  Coach Weis came out and decided Tate Notre Dame and Ann Arbor, do you think he pulled something?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No.  When guys go out to play, they just want to compete, whether it is practice or games and if you're a competitor you want to compete against everybody.  Tate and all of our guys love to be a part of the University of Michigan.  From what I've seen they love being apart of our program, everything is better when you win.  We're going to keep getting better.  We can play better than we did today.  When we watch the film, we'll say that and point it out as coaches.  I want them to enjoy this for 24 hours and then we'll move on."

Question:  What about Greg's (Mathews) performance today stepping in for Junior Hemingway?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Greg's a veteran guy.  He's got great ball skills and he made a big play at the end.  When we had the pick there was a miscommunication.  I knew Greg wanted the chance to bounce back and he did.  I thought (Daryl) Stonum made some big plays.  Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown are two veterans at running back and I don't know if you noticed how physical Brandon was blocking and Carlos on all those blitzes.  It was something neat to watch."

Question:  Coach your second to last possession you make the decision to punt the ball and trust your defense; can you talk about that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  I wasn't 100% convinced of either, but not only because I didn't defense, you hate to give up the chance to give up the chance to win the game.  If it wasn't fourth and 12, I probably would have went for it.  If it was fourth and less than five, I probably would have went for it.  But with 10 to 12 yards, the odds of getting that are pretty rare and we get a great punt and probably pin them back in there.  They did a good job, plus we had three time outs, so that's the obvious part of it.  I got a little nervous there for a while."

Question:  What did you think of Notre Dame throwing the ball on the last possession?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well they are just trying to win the game.  I don't question that at all.  They got a big time quarterback.  He's an NFL kid and they've had success all game and they're just trying to get a first down and win the game.  I don't blame them at all."

Question:  The defense was a little shaky in the first, what happened at half time because they really came out at halftime because they really came out and you guys shut them down?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We completely changed out whole scheme and game plan….naw we didn't (laughter).  All did was get our offense on our field a little bit more and give them a little bit of a rest.  The second quarter was strange because our defense had to play so much.  Our defense had to play so much.  We scored on the defense the kick off return, which was great, but it made our defense go back out there and they had some long drives and we had a couple of three and outs in a row offensively.  So we talked about offensively that we need to get a drive even if we don't score at least move the football, make them play some plays and give our defense a little bit of a break.  Our defensive coaches did a great job of making a few adjustments and playing the ball better in the air.  They got some big time receivers and they played the ball better in the air than a lot of people that I've ever seen.  In the end, we got one more touchdown than they did and won."

Question:  Can you talk about that last play?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah we got about three good goal line routes that we practice every day and that was obviously one of them.  Greg was one of the best route runners we have.  At the time, it looked like we were going to get double coverage, I thought uh-oh Tate's going to have to make a play, but from my vantage it looks like the receiver was covered and Tate made a nice throw and obviously Greg made the play.  We had a couple, three or four chances to win the game.  A couple of balls that are just off here and there and obviously, the more we were kicking ourselves because we had those opportunities and they had one more play to win it.  I thought after that we could have had one more shot and then we have had to kick the field goal."

Question:  I know you never want to make this about you, but I talked to Brandon and a couple of other guys on the field after the game and they just kind of maintained that they would run through a brick wall for you; what does that mean…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It means they probably wanted shorter practice time (laughter), Monday or Tuesday.  They're great young men.  I've said this for the last nine months that are guys have been ‘All In'.  To watch the way they've worked.  To watch the way they go through practice, to see 25 or 30 kids on Saturday in the off season and the summer, calling us up and saying open the building up, we want to go in there.  It's tremendous from day one.  They're all hungry.  That's the key I said after the game was that they got to stay hungry and humble.  That's two wins, two good wins – they'll get a little bit of respect back, but it is still a long way to go.  If they stay humble and hungry and we keep getting better than some of that national respect that all of us want, our fans want and our players want, we'll get it."

Question:  Last week, you said no more drama, but is that kind of drama okay?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'd rather win them more comfortable.  We beat a solid team that's got some great players and they're well coached, then I'll take that drama as long as it is a Michigan win."

Question:  What does this win mean?

Coach Rodriguez:  "That's a great win for Michigan.  I don't have a secret closet and my wife Rita (Rodriguez) doesn't have a secret place that Notre Dame goes in that category, but I'll tell you what she will do, probably from now until next Saturday, she'll watch this game on the DVR about 35 times (laughter).  It's great because obviously it's a national program, as we are and again, it is on a national stage and we talked about that all week.  Every game that you play is an opportunity to get some respect and show what kind of program and team you have.  This one is a little unique, because it is on a national stage – Michigan-Notre Dame is always on a national stage.  That helps, but again we have to continue doing it every week."

Question:  What about Stevie Brown's game; he was in on a fumble?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah Stevie Brown...  he's a match of what the position is and he's a very physical player.  He's one of the two seniors played for us on defense and I thought he had another outstanding game and made some big plays when we needed it."

Question:  What did you see when you called that timeout when the play got reviewed?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I saw it on the replay and then right after I saw one of the other guys said, ‘Hey, I think he stepped out.'  I burned a timeout because I didn't call for the challenge. I was just calling the time out, because it looked like they were going to kick the extra point before they had a chance to review it.  My argument with the officials was that if I had enough time to review it, then surely those couple of gentleman in the box did, and they did.  I think they got the right call.  That's a tough game to officiate.  I know we were on them a little bit, as is customary when things don't go your way, but that was a tough game to call because there was a lot of good athletes on both sides.  I'll review the film and then I'll give you my assessment of them later."

Question:  What about Jordan Kovacs?

Coach Rodriguez:  "When you talk about a story; this is a story that's worth writing.  Notre Dame has got some outstanding players, some four and five star, national recruits whatever that is and there it is on crunch time, second half of the game and they've got some of their four and five star and they are really good players.  Then we got Jordan Kovacs who is a school start walk on – the second time.  The first time he didn't make it because he was injured.  He went and got his knee fixed, told him to come back again and try about with the general student body and not only does he try out and make the team, now he's in there playing safety in the middle of crunch time, national TV against Notre Dame.  To me that's pretty special and I'm awful proud of him."

Question:  What happened to Mike (Williams)?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know.  He is a little dinged up.  I don't know how serious it is."

Question:  What does this mean for the program?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It just gives us a little bit more confidence.  Again, we're going to go back to work on Monday and fix what we need to fix.  Any coach will tell you that it is a heck of a lot more fun to coach after a win than a loss and the things we can get fixed, we'll be in a better mood while we're fixing them."

Question:  When did you decide not to play Junior?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Really a couple of days ago, but we just didn't tell you.  Naw, he was doubtful.  By mid week…if you're not practicing really by Wednesday, you're not going to be able to contribute much and so by Thursday we had a pretty good idea.  Hopefully we can get him back for next week."

Question:  What about (Mark) Moundros?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Moundros is fine."

Question:  What about Stonum? 

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know the severity of his injury.  We'll give you a little bit more of an idea either (Sunday) or Monday."

Question:  Rich, I know there is not a lot of room for sympathy in sports but do you all feel bad in obviously a close game that somebody…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We've all lost close games.  Do you think they would have felt bad for us (laughter)?  No.  Charlie's a good football coach and he's got a good football team and they are going to win a lot of games.  They got a quarterback that is an NFL guy.  They got two of the best wide receivers I've seen in years and their running back I think is a big time player and geez, did you see the size of the lineman?  I mean they could eat peanuts off our guy's heads (laughter) for crying out loud.  That's a good looking team but thankfully our guys…again, we made one more play than they did and we won."

Question:  On his feelings on the game…

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm just proud of the guys in the way they've focused, and the way they care about his place, the way they play for Michigan.  We talked about that quite a bit.  The tradition of this program is based on a bunch of young men playing with great passion on every play, in practice and in the games.  We're trying to get back to that."

Question:  How many games has you're dad been to?

Coach Rodriguez:  "This is the first one this year.  My dad was here.  Some of my best friends from West Virginia, from Glenville State, Parkersburg.  It's kind of my own entourage (laughter).  It's kind of neat for me to have such great support here from our great fans and to have some great support and from folks that drive five or six hours from West Virginia would come to watch every ball game.  To me that's just….not just for me but our staff, the guys at Notre Dame, that's what special.  Thank you ‘Go Blue'."  

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