Rich Rod Postgame: Injuries a Concern

Rich Rodriguez on his team's 45-17 victory over Eastern Michigan, the play of of his freshman quarterbacks, the explosiveness of the rushing attack, Jonas Mouton's suspension, the injury status of a few key players, and more.

Question:  Is Brandon Minor banged up?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  He's got the same thing with his foot or his ankle.  It was sore.  He tried to go a little bit but after a few series he said it's really sore, so we held him out there.  We got a few guys banged up.  I think most of them should be okay.  Tate (Forcier) bruised his ribs – got the air knocked out of him.  The biggest concern is David Molk, he said his foot was bothering him.  It must have happened early in the game, first half or whatever, but now it may be more serious.  We'll know a little bit more if he broke it or whatever as we go along.  That would be a big loss, but guys played hard, it is a physical game.  We ran the football pretty well thankfully.  We weren't playing really well; we were executing at times.  As coaches, we'll work hard and try to get things corrected and get ready for the Big Ten opener."

Question:  Who is Molk's backup?  Is that Rocko (Khoury) next?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah Rocko will be in there and hopefully Moose (David Mooseman) will be back this week.  Moose would be the next center in.  So if David is out than we will get Moose and try to get Moose ready and Rocko as well."

Question:  One of the big differences between big conference teams and MAC teams is depth. Did you guys try to exploit that with the tempo?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah a little bit.  That's kind of our M.O. anyway offensively is to try to be a little bit faster and particularly when you can run the ball and get good gains on first and second down allows you to control it.  They did a nice job of possession.  They had the ball quite a bit of time and ran the football pretty well.  I thought our defensive guys did a nice job of adjusting in the second half, getting a few stops and we finally got a couple of big plays that put it away a little bit."

Question:  How about the way you ran today; not the old "three yards and a cloud of dust", but you guys ran the ball.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah a little bit of the offense.  Our fast guys did a great job of hitting it north and south and pulling away from defenders and showed some speed, which was nice to see.  We went particularly sharp throwing the balls, so it was a good thing that we could run it.  Again, sometimes we get spoiled and remind ourselves that these quarterbacks are freshman, and we don't want to overload them too much.  As coaches, we'll look back and see where we can really execute.  There are a lot of things that we can teach from, learn from in this game and hopefully we'll do that before next Saturday."

Question:  Was that the fastest you've seen Carlos Brown run?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Naw I've seen him run fast.  All the guys usually run faster when somebody's chasing them (laughter) and Carlos is no exception in that regard, but he hit it north and south.  We always talk to our guys about running north and south and going as fast as you can and see if they're fast enough to take the angle away and our guys did a nice job of that today."

Question:  Do you feel like you were able to incorporate more and more the offensive weapons as things unfolded?

Coach Rodriguez:  "A little bit year.  Again, execution wise and all that, as coaches we're probably never 100% happy.  There was a lot of things that we missed today and hopefully as coaches we can try to figure that out.  Our guy's effort has been really good.  This is sometimes people say a big win last week, maybe your guys will let down, but there focus during the week has been really good.  As long as the focus is good during the week, you can tell the guys are attentive in practice and all that then we should be getting better.  I think we took some positive steps today.  I also think we took some steps that maybe weren't so positive, but it is a good win and we got to overcome these injuries.  I've said it many times 12 straight times with no open dates, we knew coming in that injuries could play factor and the next guy will pick it up and take off from there."

Question:  At what time did you find about (Jonas) Mouton's suspension?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Thursday I believe.  Thursday I think it was – yes.  Thursday after practice."

Question:  Can you talk about (Kevin) Leach as your next guy in?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah Leach and Brandon Smith and J.B. Fitzgerald can play there too but really at that position it was Kevin and Brandon Smith.  Just from my view on the sideline, Brandon was playing hard and Kevin made some plays.  I don't know how well we played grade wise or anything until we watch the film."

Question:  Why did you guys accept that punishment?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Again, I told the team; there should have been a penalty.  It should have been a personal foul and maybe the officials didn't see that part and I understand the league as a whole has to look at what they consider a non-football act and make their judgment or what have you accordingly.  I don't think for any instant or any stretch of imagination that it was malicious and I don't think you should compare it to a windup punch like we saw earlier in the season in the Oregon game, but it is an act that the Big Ten is going to try to enforce and set a precedence with and so we accept that.  In my conversation with the commissioner is that we will watch every Big Ten game very closely and any non-football act whether it is a six inch jab or anything that is not called for in the game of football, we're going to ask that that person get the same type of punishment that Jonas Mouton got.  I'm sure that the league will do that."

Question:  How do you feel about the officiating in this game (laughter)?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Is there a policy in the Big Ten (laughter).  I have to plead the fifth.  We had two penalties for 20 yards.  Normally most coach would be happy with just two penalties of 20 yards, but one of them in particular early in the game, I wasn't sure that that was a penalty.  I watched the film…I don't know if the film could give me a better judgment of what I saw, or you all saw or what everybody else saw in the stadium.  I was standing right there.  They called it and explained it was an arm bar thing, which I understand that is when you push them out with your arm.  I didn't see that part either.  I watched the film and reserved judgment.  There was a couple of big plays on that and they're trying hard."

Question:  One more thing about Mouton thing; do you think that is going to be a point of emphasis?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think it has been and not just because of what happened in the Oregon game, but I think it has been maybe a point of emphasis.  I want to make to make it perfectly clear.  There is no room for throwing punches in the game.  It is not a football act, it is not what we're about and it hurts the team when you do that.  Jonas understood that.  It could have hurt the team and been penalized but again, I think you have to look at everything individually and was it a malicious act.  Was it something that warranted a suspension and they said it did.  Whatever the rules are, if that is the rules then we go by the rules.  That's fine.  That's why as a coach, you say okay that's the precedent has been set.  That's why I said when we look at every act…it's funny you say that, I saw a Big Ten game in the locker room as it was leaving highlights and it was the end of the game and the guy jumped on someone at the last play of the game and did a little a of this (Coach Rodriguez motions).   Now is that a nonfootball act?   Probably is.  So that may be turned in and we'll see what happens."

Question:  Eastern Michigan was hanging in there in the first half, was that because they were running the ball well?

Coach Rodriguez:  "They really executed well.  They had a nice scheme.  Defensively I had to watch the film and talk to the defensive coaches and see where they got us.  Because they clearly got us some…they were able to put some drives together and manage the clock and hit a few passes, some play-action passes, some bootlegs and all that.  We did adjust well. Again, I have to watch the film.  They had a nice plan and kept their confidence up, which I told the team at halftime; I said you give them some hope and they'll have some confidence and they seemed to be fired up at halftime and all that kind of stuff.  Our guys have not panicked and they haven't panicked in any game this year."

Question:  Do you have the same concern about your defense that you had about three games in....?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Some.  But I have concerns about everything.  I have concerns about some special teams.  I didn't think our kickoff returns as good as they should have been.  But maybe I was spoiled from last week.  Our offensive passing game is obviously not crisp and sharp, but we got a lot of things to work on."

Question:  Do you have more depth at running back than you thought at running back?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Probably if you'd asked anybody in the program or coaches wise, what is our deepest position, they would have all said running back.  We knew it coming in and some of the young guys like Vincent Smith and Mike Shaw and all that, we knew that they were getting better and better.  I really feel good about our depth.  Still, missing Brandon Minor, Brandon is the most physical runner we have and maybe one of the most physical in the country.  He brings a whole lot to the table.  So hopefully got to get him back.  We do have a lot of guys who have earned, I guess by their performance in practice some playing time, so hopefully we can get them in there."

Question:  On having so many backs sharing carries.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  Sometimes a coach wants to have one guy get greased up and share a lot of carries, but we do so many things at a faster tempo, the more backs we can have ready to go the better off we will be."

Question:  Is that why you want to use Denard Robinson when things aren't working as a change up?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  Denard I think always wants to prove because he can throw the ball.  Now he made a couple of decisions today that maybe weren't the best.  He can make all the throws.  As coaches, we've got to remember he is only a few games into his freshman year and he has been with us for five or seven weeks or something like that.  He'll keep getting better as will Tate.  Like I said, there was a lot a teachable moments off this game.  As coaches, we'll break it down tonight or tomorrow and then Monday with the kids and go from there."

Question:  Talking about Brandon Minor's health; how key has it been that Carlos has been healthy?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah that has been a key.  I feel good for Carlos because he's a guy that you've all that have been here, for three or four years he has not been healthy, and now he is healthy and he is running around.  He's blocking pretty well; he's one of out best guys out of backfield catching the ball.  So it has been very, very critical for us to have Carlos healthy."

Question:  Martavious Odoms seems to be giving you a big boost lately?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah he made a couple of big plays.  I wish we'd had that one.  We were in rhythm and we had that ball that was juggled.  Did anybody see it?  Was it a catch?  No.  Okay.  We kept saying that we were hanging on with those under reviews; we were 100% and Coach Magee said, ‘ah we're 100%, this one probably ain't going with us'.  That was a big play.  Martavious, what he has gotten better at is blocking, for a little guy, I thought we really blocked well on the perimeter today."

Question:  (Jason) Olsenavage played another good game, is that less of a concern now than it was coming out of camp?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I think…the one field goal today and the rest were extra points, but he has really kicked it pretty solidly in practice as well.  I hope that his confidence is growing because he's done a nice job and we needed that.  We have a couple of young guys that got some talent, but Jason has been the most consistent that we've had."

Question:  Last week at halftime you told your team that they are a second half team. After seeing this game does it concern you that the team has gotten off to slow starts?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know if I ever told anybody I was a second half team.  I want to be a four quarter team. What I told our guys, we feel that we should be good in the second half because we're in pretty good shape and particularly the longer the games goes.  I've always said this to our guys, the longer the game goes we got to trust that we're going to be in pretty good shape, because our practice tempo is pretty good.  Even for our second team, particularly offensively, we get our second team as many reps as our first team.  They don't get the reps in the game, but they should be in pretty good shape as well.  That is why the second half should be conducive to use.  If we make the other team play.  That's been the key, I've said it all along, we've got to make the other team play some plays on defense in order for that to be a factor."

Question:  Are you finding more and more elements that you can use in your offense?

Coach Rodriguez:  "As we go along and get more experience.  We got this much offense and depending on skill and what they can learn and what we can teach and all that, we'd like to get to all that.  Inevitably, if I can get to three-fourths of it, I'd be happy.  Sometimes you do too much.  I think sometimes as a coach we sit around and this looks good and that looks good and you are better off just getting to the bases.  Sometimes today we did that.  We said okay, let's not try to trick ourselves and let's just get back to the basics."

Question:  What about starting Big Ten play; where are you guys versus where you thought or hoped you might've been?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well I wish we were healthier, I know that.  We couldn't be any better than 3-0 and that is a good thing for some confidence.  We've got a lot of tough battles ahead and we've got to play better and hopefully we can this weekend."

Question:  It sounds like you're really concerned about Molk?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah I am.  I am concerned about him."

Question:  Did you make any adjustments at halftime to slow down their run game?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I know the defensive staff…normally what happens at halftime is that the coaches get together at first, offense, defense and then they get with the kids and talk to them.  It was a little bit longer this time with the defensive staff, they were still meeting with about 10 minutes to go in the half and then they went and talked with the guys.  Whatever they did, it seemed to help a little bit.  Those first two or three, three-and-outs, I think was key defensively to get them off the field."

Question: Mike Williams went down? 

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think Mike rolled any ankle a little bit, but I don't think that is serious."

Question:  Mike Martin left and came back…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Mike will be fine."

Question:  Is there a way to dial the offense down late in the game when you have a big lead.

Coach Rodriguez:  "When you got guys in there, you want them to play.  The last thing you want to do is put a guy in there and tell him not to play hard or run the system whether it is offense or defense.  We were running the ball more, but whether it is offense or defense and you got a lead at the end of the game, when you guys go in you expect them to compete and compete as hard as they can."

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