COACH RODRIGUEZ: Before I take QUESTIONs, I'll go ahead and announce a couple of the things that are going on this weekend besides the game, of course. There's a homecoming pep rally at Crisler Arena this Friday; at 3:30 p.m. the doors open. The team will get there about 4:15. There will be door prizes and giveaways, and we're doing this with the Michigan student assembly, and for all the students there will be buses to take them from the residence halls down, so hopefully we'll have a good time with that. So that will be Friday, the pep rally, somewhere around 4:00, 4:15.
Then also this weekend, you all may be familiar with what happened last year, there's a partnership between the AFCA, American Football Coaches Association, which I'm a board member of, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, to draw awareness and hopefully contribute to that cause. We'll be wearing, all the coaches ... you'll see all the coaches probably on both staffs, certainly our staff, will be wearing the Coach For the Cure M.D. arm bands on there, and then Coach Tressel from Ohio State and I filmed a commercial, a PSA, a public service announcement, this summer that will air during the games this weekend. This muscular dystrophy, in particular this Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood. A gentleman named Brad Todd is kind of at the forefront of helping getting the coaches involved in this cause. And we're fortunate as coaches to be able to have a platform or an arena to help raise some charitable causes. Most of you know here how active our students are here with Mott Children's Hospital, and I'm very proud of all the student athletes, what they do with that. I've been involved with the Coaches Against Cancer organization for a few years now, and then being part of the AFCA, and in particular being on the board, Coach Tressel and I feel it's an opportunity for us to help that that cause. Every year we try to pick a cause to try to support nationally, and for this weekend that is that cause.
Then from a football standpoint, I'll give you a quick injury update and then we can go with questions. David Molk unfortunately broke a bone in his foot. I believe he did it sometime in the first half. He told us it was sore, but he said, I'm good, I will play with it. He actually played very, very well and played well in the second half, so that tells you how tough a guy he is. They got it X-rayed after the game. He's having surgery today, and the prognosis is four to six weeks. So that's a tough blow because David, not only does he play center, the leader of the line, but David is not just one of our best linemen but he is one of our best football players, period. So we'll have to adjust a little bit and make some moves and try to keep rolling there.
The good news on the injury front, it looks like David Moosman will be back this week, so he is one, he and Rocko Khoury will probably take the majority of the snaps at center, and looks like Tim McAvoy, who has been out since training camp, hopefully will be back this week, as well. I'm not as sure about him. But hopefully he'll be back and it looks like David will be back.
Mike Williams tweaked his ankle. He's kind of day-to-day. Those are the two ... him and David were the two injuries out of Saturday's game.
Brandon Minor was banged up a little bit. He felt a little uncomfortable when he got in there, ran a few plays, and think he's still hobbled a little bit. We'll do him day-to-day, as well, and then rest him a little bit early in the week to see if he's ready for Saturday.
QUESTION: Is it the same injury for all these?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it's just a nagging ankle, and Brandon, he's got a great pain tolerance, I think, so he'll go, but he's also ... what we've told him is he's got to be honest with us when it is bothering him, particularly at a point when it's bothering him when he doesn't feel like he can be himself, he's got to let us know. And he was that way Saturday. Brandon loves to play. You could tell the first couple carries, he came in and he said, Coach, it's bothering me more. I said, well, you need to sit out.
QUESTION: Shutting him down for a week or two, does that help?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Talking to the trainers, I don't think it's a situation where you just sit him all week and he'll be ready by Saturday. You still have to practice to get ready to play. Even though Brandon is a proven commodity, you still have to practice during the week in order to be halfway effective on Saturdays.
QUESTION: Does Moosman have a better chance of moving over into that spot because he's been there before?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, because David has played before and he's got that experience. We'll see if ... he'll probably be the first one at center to go. Again, he's coming off a week off, as well. But he's an experienced guy, a veteran guy, and we're still making some moves. John Ferrara played pretty solidly at guard, but we could still move Mark Huyge to right guard, and we feel confident in Perry Dorrestein playing tackle. We have a little bit of flexibility there with some of the guard and tackle positions. But the center is the key; it all starts right threw. David has been playing at a very high level. In fact, he was one of our offensive players of the game, so we'll hopefully get him back in a few weeks.
QUESTION: Is that something you could have done last year with the offensive line depth (or lack thereof)?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it's not exactly the ideal situation because our depth is still with inexperienced guys, but at least inexperienced guys have been in the program for a year as opposed to last year where some of them were true freshmen. Ideally, and again, as the years go on, we'll be able to develop more depth and have experienced players backed up by some semi-experienced players. Again, it's the same issues that we have and we know about now. They're not going to be solved overnight. It's going to take us a couple years to really fix some of the issues we have as far as depth and experience and talent and what have you, where we really want to have it at. If you look at us as a team, we're really undersized, and some folks think that we're a bunch of small guys. I'll take all the big guys we can get. I like big guys, but big guys have to be able to move. We're a little undersized defensively, especially in our front seven. We're not as big as we will be if our guys grow and get older mature, and they'll get a little bit bigger we think. But we need to get bigger, so we have to be very aggressive and very active defensively on our guys in our scheme. Not so much in our scheme but particularly in our technique, and they do that. Our guys play pretty hard and play pretty aggressively up front.
But we'll address that in recruiting and hopefully get to the point where we have some of those bigger guys in the front seven that can move and make some plays.
QUESTION: What's the root of your philosophy, you and Greg, I guess, with switching guys and preparing them to play all positions in the offensive line? Is this something you've done for years?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, for the most part, in our years, we haven't switched a lot of guys in games, but we've tried to get a lot of guys preparation in practice at different positions. We've always tried to have at least two centers, at least ... generally three, at least three guards and at least three tackles. If a guy can play tackle and guard, like we're trying to train Patrick Omameh and Mark Huyge to do, then it gives you a lot more flexibility so you have your five that you feel are most ready to play at any one time.And again, it's a little harder now because it's the second year, so it's better and easier than it was last year. But as these guys are in the system say three, four years, you should be able to put them at any position and they'll know what to do. That's the key there.
QUESTION: It seems Tate had a couple times where the ball slipped out of his hand. Has that been an issue at all?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, not really. There were some times ... we roll a lot of balls in and out. But those quarterbacks get those balls really worn down a little bit in practice before they go out there. But I've noticed, when you first get a new ball, that's got a lot of that wax and stuff on there, but everybody, whether you use our brand of ball or somebody else's ball, usually the quarterbacks have time to practice with it a couple days. We weren't sharp throwing the ball Saturday. Thankfully we were able to run it so we didn't have to be. But there was a lot of reasons for that, not just a quarterback or receiver or protection. It's usually a combination of all those things.
QUESTION: The last two weeks there's been a noticeable difference in the defense from first half to second half. Talk about some of that.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think that's just a coincidence more than anything else. I do think our defensive staff has done a good job of ... there's not a whole lot of time for big adjustments. The reality is you have about ten minutes. You have a 20-minute halftime. You get five to go up there and five to come out, so you don't have a whole lot of time for adjustments. But I think what our defensive staff has done more than anything is just calm the guys down, tell them this is what's happening, these are the things we're going to try to do to fix it. More than anything it's just making a few plays, maybe getting a turnover or two. I wish we were getting more turnovers, but they have something to do with that, as well. But I think it's more the calming effect in the guys. Particularly you have a lot of guys playing for the first time on defense. They have a tendency to, uh-oh, what's going on here, and you've got to calm them down and reiterate some of their techniques and try to make a few calls as coaches to try to help them out, as well. The first thing that starts with us is getting them into position to make a play.
QUESTION: Has Moosman played center at all?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah, he played it all spring, he played it all camp. He was very solid on all the snaps, shotgun snaps and all that, so I feel pretty comfortable with David.
QUESTION: One guy who's not undersized is Campbell. How do you think he played?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Will is still learning. He made a couple plays when he got in there and he is awful strong at the point of attack. But some of the techniques and fundamental things that most freshmen would have to learn he's still learning, and again, he's playing a tough position. He's a true freshman, even though he enrolled in early January, which has really helped him; he wouldn't be where he's at now with a chance if he wasn't enrolled early. But he's a guy that will continue to progress because he has the type of size and he's an outstanding athlete. But he's a young guy.
QUESTION: Three games in going into Big Ten play, what has surprised you about your team that maybe you didn't expect to happen?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: There hasn't been a whole lot of surprises from us that we didn't see in camp and what we didn't see the beginnings of in spring practice. You know, I saw a very focused team in spring ball. They were really eager to learn and take the next step, and I thought the camp was outstanding. I think I've said it before to you all, three weeks or so of camp before our first game week, the guys were really focused. They were attentive, they were hungry, and again, what we're seeing in games for the most part is what we saw in August camp. Now, there are moments that we played better in camp in all three phases, but we're sitting here 3 and 0 and feeling pretty good and hope the guys get a lot of confidence. But trust me, we're still very much a work in progress. There's a whole lot of things we have to play better at and get better at, and as coaches we've got to try to continue to do what we can to help the guys have some success. I mean, we're all happy to be where we're at record-wise, but there's going to be a lot of adversity still to come starting in the Big Ten conference play starting this weekend, and we've got to just get our guys to remind themselves, even though maybe a few more people might be patting you on the back right now, we've got a lot of work to do to be a very good football team. I think we're okay and we've played well at times, but we're not nearly where we can be or will be.
QUESTION: Barring any injury or unforeseen circumstances, the freshmen that have played so far, those are going to be the ones that play?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, there could be. Again, some of them, you don't want to play a guy with two, three games left in the regular season and burn a red shirt if you can help it. To be fair to this year's team and your seniors, you've got to do all you can to have as much success this year using your whole roster. We tell some of the freshmen, they may be on the scout team right now, but a week or two or an injury or two and they may be pulled up. We haven't even started Big Ten play yet. The freshmen that played now, we're planning on playing them, and their roles will probably be increased. But I wouldn't be surprised if there's a couple more freshmen that haven't played that may still get in the mix here in the next couple weeks just simply because of the way the injuries happen and no open dates. Turner is one, for example, and I'm trying to think ... we have three relatively good ... we have some outstanding freshmen offensive linemen. But there's so much for them to learn. But you get banged up a little bit, maybe one of those guys will be ready. We repped Taylor as a one and Michael Schofield a little about the with the twos last week just to kind of keep them greased up a little bit just in case.
QUESTION: You talked about with Will the early enrolling. I think five of the eight freshmen you played were early enrollees. Do you encourage players to enroll early?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, no, they ask us usually. There's more and more guys that want to do that, and we tell them, yeah, if you want to do that and we have a spot, that's terrific. It certainly can accelerate their process of learning, and not just athletically but academically to get a head start on that. But you have to have room for them, which means your juniors are graduating in December and moving on, and then they have to do their work academically and graduate early and have all the qualifications needed to get accepted and to be eligible. So there's a lot of factors to it. But more and more young men are doing that now more than ever. We had seven or eight, and there's another probably five, six or seven spots that we would have this winter for them to enroll. We've had at least that many that are interested in doing that. It certainly helps them, and I don't ... as a coach it's nice it happens, but we don't recruit a guy just based on that.
QUESTION: Have you ever turned somebody down that wants to enroll early?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, there's been a few. You have to have enough spots for them, and there's some that ... you know, they're involved in playing a spring sport or they're playing basketball or baseball or track and really contributing and enjoying that, and we tell them, you only go through high school one time, you want to enjoy that process. But if they're not in spring sports and they want to move on and graduate and get to college, then I don't see anything wrong with that. If they want to start their education earlier, that's fine if everything works out right.
QUESTION: Have you had maybe some kids that played basketball or spring sports push back on you sometimes, like I really want to do this, where you've had those types of discussions?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we've had several discussions. We've had discussions with guys not just this past year but in the past that were one of the best basketball players or baseball players and said, hey, we want to enroll early. I said, make sure you want to do this now. Missing the prom isn't a big thing for the guys. They can go back to their prom and take that weekend and go and all that, but the spring sports are the thing. But more and more athletes are becoming specialized, I think, and I don't know if that's all necessarily a good thing. I always tell the guys, if you're a good enough athlete to contribute in other sports and you enjoy doing it, then you should do it. In a lot of ways it helps us evaluate you if you're playing another sport or playing basketball. I love to watch basketball, and I think you can see a lot of things from an athlete in basketball as a football player. We encourage them, if you're playing those sports and you're contributing, then do it, because you only go through it once. As I said, so many of the young men now want to move on, and I don't think just an athletic standpoint but from an academic standpoint. You all know the old senioritis thing; they get to be a senior in high school and they get to the spring semester and they go, okay, I'm tired of this high school stuff, I want to get to college. More and more ... I guess young folks are ... and not just athletes, but students in general, are saying I want to move on to college. I want to come to the big house, go to their campus and do all the other things. It's changed the last three or four years. More and more are doing that. I don't see it slowing down, because more and more students, not just athletes, are taking classes, core classes and college curriculum classes early in their college careers, their freshman and sophomore years. I have not talked to Rhett about his yet; he's only 11. But when he gets into ninth grade we'll talk about that.
QUESTION: I heard what you said about the freshmen in terms of play time. There doesn't seem to be a lot of rotation at linebacker for some of the second year guys.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, and we want to do that. We want to get more guys involved at linebacker. J.B. Fitzgerald got a few reps, Kenny Demens is guy that we try to get reps. Jonas was out last game so Kevin Leach played, and that was a good experience for him. But we have some other guys. One guy that we've had at outside linebacker, we may move and see if he can contribute is Mike Jones. Mike is about 200 pounds, but eventually he's going to be about 215, 220, and we really like some of the things he's shown us. Our depth at linebacker is not where it needs to be, so we've got to get more guys ready. So guys like Mike, Brandon Smith who played a little bit Saturday, some of those young guys, hopefully we can get more reps because we're going to need them. They're pretty athletic guys, as well.
QUESTION: Talk about the lack of depth in the defensive secondary. Is there any look at moving some of the guys on offense. James Rogers has obviously been there before?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he had been there before, and we talked about all those guys in camp because if you want to make a move, that's the time to make a move. It's so hard nowadays because now you just get into game plans. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are really the only full practices you have that you can get somebody ready. So to move someone now from offense to defense is very, very rare anywhere. So I don't anticipate any moves. Now an injury or two could always change that. But our backups at corner are all freshmen, either red-shirt freshmen or true freshmen, so we're a little nervous there. But those guys have gotten better. When Boubacar was nicked up a little bit and Donovan had a nick here and there, those guys got a lot of valuable reps in camp. So I think they're more game ready than maybe we realize. So we'll have to see what happens.
QUESTION: You've already seen an impact from walk-ons… how do you feel you are with that program?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think we're right on track with it. Look at this Saturday's game, Jordan Kovacs was in the game, Kevin Leach started the game, Mark Moundros was a walk-on, Jon Conover made some big plays; he was our special teams player of the week; he was a walk-on. The impact that they have and will continue to have is absolutely critical to this program, particularly now. But I always emphasize it, as will our coaches. And I think the players understand that the best guys play and that everybody that's out there has an opportunity. I'm really pleased where we're at, pleased with the walk-ons we brought on this year, and we'll actively have that as part of it. It's a big deal for us.
QUESTION: At your tight end, it seems Kevin a little more advanced now as a pass catcher and maybe Martell is a little more advanced as blocker? Is that accurate?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know if you can pigeonhole just to that, but Kevin has gotten ... we've tried to work both of them at both of those things. Both of them need to have some work on just some of the receiving part and the blocking part, but the blocking part in particular with both of those guys, and Coach Magee has done a good job of working with them and they have become more physical. I think one of the reasons they've become more physical is they're more familiar with what their assignments are. Sometimes when you're a little bit tentative on who to block or how to block them, you don't block as aggressively as you can. Both of those guys have done a pretty good job. This last game was okay; I don't think we were great. But Kevin has really been pretty solid all year, and Martell has really come ... I mentioned earlier, he had a great camp and he's had a solid three games so far. We need two. Hopefully we'll have a third one established, and that gives us a lot of flexibility with our formations when you have at least two guys you feel good with at tight end.
QUESTION: Is Tate completely healthy?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Tate probably, I don't know if he was feeling as healthy or as well in this past ballgame. Tate doesn't complain much. He loves to play, had a big smile on his face. But he didn't move around, didn't look like he was moving around like he was moving around earlier, so I think he was just a little bit sore. He took the shot to the chest and it knocked the wind out of him a little bit. But he should be better this week. His legs and that little thing in his chest, he'll be fine.
QUESTION: Will you maybe limit him in practice him this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, he'll run around. He shouldn't have any limits at all in practice.
QUESTION: What have you seen from Ryan Van Bergen?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Ryan has been outstanding. He's one of the hardest workers on the team. He's a defensive end that we've moved inside, but he also can play outside. He battles in there. Ryan, he's a very good athlete, and he's got good size, and he's going to keep getting better. I've been really pleased with our defensive front, has been pretty solid. We haven't had a lot of sacks, but some of it is due to the other team getting rid of the ball quick, doing some mass protection, but they've gotten some pressures, and we've gotten a lot of pressures just in three- and four-man rushes, which has been good. But Ryan has been very solid.
QUESTION: Why do you think he's one of the hardest workers?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, you can just tell, his passion, every practice. He's on special teams, and he'll do anything we want. He would play on every special teams we want him to. He's an outstanding football player, and again ... what is he, a sophomore? So he's playing extensively for the first time. To play as a red-shirt freshman is pretty good, but he's playing an awful lot of good football for us.
QUESTION: Are any of your seven scholarships going to walk-ons?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think we're maxed out. We may have one available. The problem is that we have ... we mentioned earlier that we have some guys who are committed to coming in January, and you've got to have scholarships available for that, so we've got to make sure we have those obligations fulfilled.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I want to tell you, but here's ... most coaches do ... it's not a big secret, but most coaches have it announced in front of the whole team, and I used to do it, too. But I have so many walk-ons that are so deserving that it's almost like, which one do I pick. If I give him a scholarship and I didn't give him one, I don't want his feelings to be hurt because he earned one, as well. So I don't make a big deal out of it. But I do bring the young men in and tell them because it's a big moment for them, tell them to call your parents and tell your loved ones that you got a scholarship, and you can tell your friends, whatever, but I don't want to make a big announcement about it because I don't want it to upset anybody else's feelings. Not that our guys would get upset because I think they're happy for him. Jon Conover is one; here's a guy that's going to graduate. I think he's applying for law school. If anybody has any influence on helping him get in there, I think he would be terrific. I know enough about lawyers now that I think he'd be a great one. (Laughter.) I'd probably be employing him some day. I told him he deserved one. What I usually tell them, one, going here is obviously a great burden to them financially to their families, but I said, I don't want this to be the end-all; I want this to be the beginning. A lot of those walk-ons are so hungry to prove themselves that when they receive a scholarship, maybe that's the capper for them. I tell them this is just the beginning of it. Jon, I know him, as soon as I told him, it was at my house and it was pretty emotional. He's been outstanding on special teams and was the special teams player of the game for us. There's been quite a few of them, and word will probably get out. But I've been really proud of those guys, of all the team. Having been a former walk-on myself, and I can remember when Don Nehlen told me I was going to get one. I was stretching during two-a-day camp right before my sophomore year, and it was it; this was the year I had to get one. And he said, I don't remember what he said exactly, but he said, you can tell your mom and dad that I'm going to give you a scholarship, but it's only going to be one year and you'll have to earn it again next year. I said, that's good, Coach, I'll be all right. But I can remember it like yesterday when we were stretching. It was two weeks before we opened up at Oklahoma. So I was on cloud nine first couple weeks.
QUESTION: Is there any reason Kevin got most of the snaps at fullback rather than Mark?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, Mark has been a little bit banged up, but really other than ... we are very fortunate. Kevin has done an outstanding job. Mark Moundros is a great football player. I have no hesitation putting Mark in there at all; he's on all special teams. The other guy is John McColgan, he's another guy who's a walk-on that's a fullback. He played a little bit at the end there and has really done a great job getting himself in position to play. It really gives us a little bit of flexibility and a little bit of the comfortability to have three guys that we feel like we can put at fullback right now.
QUESTION: How is Craig Roh holding up as a freshman?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Craig Roh was our defensive player of the game and to play as a true freshman at that position and to make the plays he has ... again, I probably said it in my press conference, usually what you see on game day was what you saw when you recruited him. What we saw of Craig Roh, we were very excited to recruit him, and we found out his father had ties to Michigan, the western part of the state, and I thought that was a big get. And he's been everything that we thought he'd be. He's a 4.0 student coming out of high school, and that helped him learn quickly.
But his biggest attribute is his motor. He just plays so hard. He's going to have a great future. Sometimes he's a little hesitant and he can prey on the young guys because, you know, what's going to happen. But Craig is one, just knowing how competitive he is, he has a lot of people, his coaches and his dad and everybody else, keeping his humble and hungry.
QUESTION: Obviously he doesn't have the publicity Tate has and other freshmen, but can you talk that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, the publicity is going to come with the position. You don't talk too much about a defensive lineman or a defensive end, outside linebacker as you would a quarterback, and that's part of the deal. But besides him, other true freshmen that are playing, Craig Roh is starting; Tate; Je'Ron Stokes has played some at wide receiver; Denard Robinson. Who else? Brandin Hawthorne is playing some special teams. I mentioned Mike Jones, Will Campbell, Vincent Smith, who has shown us every week that he deserves to play more, so we've got a pretty good situation with them. Vlady is playing all special teams. So there's quite a few. But I do remind ... I think we have to remind ourselves, and not just you all, but these guys are just freshmen. They are young people, they're not professionals. That's for all of our players. That's where sometimes as a coach we defend them because they are ... I mean, they've got a whole lot on their plate. They're student athletes, they've got a great opportunity to be at a tremendous school and all of that, but they're still youngsters. Sometimes with football you don't see them a lot of times because they have their helmets on until you all see them or you interview him and he really looks young. Imagine that guy is an 18, 19, 20-year old kid having to perform at a high level in front of a whole bunch of folks and national TV. I think they come here to do that, but still, you have to step back and remind yourself when they do make mistakes let's not drop them in the grease. They're just freshmen or sophomores and they'll be okay.
QUESTION: What have you seen so far from Indiana that's impressed you?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, I didn't realize until I looked at their depth chart and started watching film how senior oriented they were defensively. I think they have seven or eight senior starters. Two of the best defensive ends in the conference, very, very active, good players, very physical on defense. Nobody has been able to run the ball on them.
And then offensively I think they've settled into what they want to do with their new offense. They've got some big wideouts. They're playing very, very good. Particularly the last game, Akron is a pretty good MAC team and had some experience. I know their quarterback didn't play. But they played very, very well and dominated that game. So they're coming here with a lot of confidence. I know I've said this before, and I'll say it again, I'd like to get to the point where we can play poorly and win. We're not there yet. We cannot play poorly and win, so we have to play at least well or well most of the time to win ballgames. That's still where we're at, and that's the message I'll tell the team, as well. We're playing hard and we're playing with passion, but we've got to get better and play well if we want to have any chance of winning Big Ten games.
QUESTION: How do you like your chances to compete for a conference title?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't know, because I have not watched everybody. The only thing I'm watching, I've watched a little bit of games on TV and all that, but until you play somebody in the league, I can't really judge how far we are or where we're at in relation to the rest of them. I think we're a better football team than we were a few weeks ago, but again, if we get a few injuries and all that, how are we going to play with some guys in different positions? I don't know yet until we play a game. But I like how we're getting better, and again, I reiterate, we're a work in progress, but the progress is going the way we want it to.
QUESTION: You said Saturday that you were going to send plays into the Big Ten if you saw things on other teams. You said you pointed one out?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I did see one. I don't know if it's making the rounds, but you all have probably helped as much as anything if you see something on a TV game that you think is a non-football action that maybe we should all talk about just so we're all on the same page, it's probably a good thing. We all want the same things, coaches and fans and administrators and leagues want good, clean football. I don't want any stuff that's not football related, so I understand all that. Just everybody wants it all to be consistent, and I'm just like everybody else. In my conversations with the league office, that's the only thing I want is let's just make sure that it's all consistent. To be fair to our players and everybody else, that what you see here, okay, that's a similar act, that's a non-football act, that would be a similar type of punishment. I thought I saw one this weekend, and if the league office doesn't get it and review it, I'm sure one of our tremendous fans that are out there will, because our fans are pretty good now. They're better than pretty good, they're outstanding. They catch up on things pretty quick. So if they see something, hey, it looks like that guy is kind of throwing a little jab right there; I don't know if that's a football act. Will that be turned in? They will probably turn it in themselves.
QUESTION: So they request songs and turn in plays?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I've gotten a few requests for songs. I have to tell you I'm not in the middle of that, but people on the staff were. Yeah, songs or ... everything is visible now. Everything is so transparent, so everybody can be interactive and help out the cause. I'm not on a cause to try to get anybody else in trouble. I don't want to do that at all. No coach wants to lose a player for a game. Again, every coach, every program wants to have the same ... a good, clean, hard football, nothing cheap or dirty. So we all want the same thing, but we all want it to be the same. That was the only thing on my comment.
QUESTION: When you win by four touchdowns, does it matter to you that you only held the ball 20 minutes?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I've never been worried about time of possession. I think it's more what you do with your possession than time of possessions, but I do worry that if they're controlling the game and we're not making them play at our pace or they're not having to play an extended number of plays. I've said this a bunch of times, we've got to make them play defense. That's why the three-and-outs kill us offensively. So if we can make them play more than three plays and make them go back on the field quickly and they have a three-and-out, then that plays into a lot of things we want. So the time of possession I think does matter a little bit if their defense is on the sidelines for a long period of time and we're not getting three-and-outs. The main goals we have offensively, we talk about winning and scoring. But we want to try to score at least six possessions and conversely defensively our main goal defensively other than winning and shutting people out, which everybody wants that goal, is to have at least six three-and-outs, and that's tough to do. If you get at least six three-and-outs on defense, it helps on both sides, so we talk about that.
QUESTION: It seems like you guys have been pretty good at converting your possessions and not having three-and-outs. Do you know how many you've had so far?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I know it's a lot better than it was last year. But how can it not be? We've talked quite a bit of stressing the importance of 1st downs and getting 1st downs and being good on ... you have to be good on ... everybody talks about being good on 3rd down, but really you need to be good on ... getting 1st downs, you've got to be pretty solid on 1st and 2nd down and getting some positive yards and not having those negative plays.
QUESTION: People talk about how young this team is and you also said that at 3 and 0 they're getting more pats on the back. Do you have to deal with them a little differently because the complexion of the team being so young?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think you have to be more cognizant of where they're at. Just judging how their tentativeness in practice, their focused, are they making missed assignments. Last week everybody was telling them it was a great win the week before so we paid close attention are they focused in practice and were they making MA's, missed assignments, and they weren't. So I thought their focus was pretty good. But I didn't think we played particularly sharp a lot of times, but again, I thought their focus was pretty good. I want the guys to enjoy. This is a game; I want our players to enjoy the experiences, and it's a lot more enjoyable when you win than when you lose, and everybody knows that. But it's a long season. There's a whole lot of football out there.
QUESTION: A lot of explosive plays on offense this year. Do you define explosive plays?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We don't talk about it much. It's the obvious thing, but fast, explosive players make explosive plays. You could say it's a play called. Usually it's just a guy in space making a play, whether it's a long run or a long pass. Really it's on the guys. We have some explosive players and we'll continue to recruit that, but everybody has got it nowadays. You watch more and more, you see every week, boy, that's a surprise or this team did that. Everybody has got players now and everybody has got explosive players, and if you could have more of them and make a few of them, you're going to win.
QUESTION: The hit on Tate the other day was a good defensive play, but have you talked to him about not putting himself out there so much?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, one thing, every day, particularly with young guys, every game is such a teachable or coachable moment that you can have. And that one, usually when you want to teach your quarterbacks to get rid of it quicker, a few good shots to the ribs, he'll get rid of it pretty quick. Tate has got a quick release, but he runs around and makes plays, too, so you don't want to limit his creativity, but at the same time he needs to be smart and understand in particular, hey, let's live for another play and move on.
QUESTION: Is Denard throwing from his back foot, and if so, is that correctable?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Everybody, all the young guys have so many things fundamentally they can correct. Denard... he can make all the throws. Again, he's been in the system five weeks, and he's been well coached before. He's a very coachable guy. So he'll take it to heart. And some of the things we're doing offensively I think fits into his skill set. A lot of the things fundamentally, Coach Smith does a good job. His fundamentals are pretty good, but when you go out there and you get in a game and you get excited, you just go, boy ... I don't want to say it's overrated like I know they talked about Tim Tebow changing his throwing motion, and I saw a study where his throwing motion is the same now as it was two years ago, three years ago. Really nothing changed. He's still pretty productive. I think once a guy learns to throw, then you look at how you want to work on his accuracy, how do you work on his vision, where his head is, how his reads are and all those things. Those things are more important than does he throw from here, does he throw from here, and what he does, and learning the system and learning defense. Denard is a fast learner. I'm proud of him. Five weeks to do what he's done as a true freshman, he and Tate both are pretty remarkable.
Full Transcript: Coach Rod Presser
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