Rodriguez Doesn't Mind Winning Ugly

Michigan headman Rich Rodriguez reflects on his team's 36-33 nail-biting victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. He discusses the play of his quarterbacks, the problems wih the shotgun snap, Boubacar Cissoo, the play of his defense, and more.

Coach Rodriguez's Opening Statement:  "Well we are happy with the win, as I've said many a times, I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty.  At times, it was ugly out there, but our guys kept battling and kept fighting and played 60 minutes.  (Indiana) did as well.  They've got a good football team.  They played very hard.  They had a nice plan.  We didn't execute well at time but other times we did just enough to make a play.  Our guys hung in there.  I'm proud of our young guys.  Our freshmen, sometimes look like freshmen, other times they did okay.  We got a lot of things to work on.  We got a huge game coming up.  We'll enjoy this for 24 hours and get to work on Michigan State."

Question:  You said you can't play poorly and win.  Does this kind of change that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah and we did play poorly at times, but we also played okay at times as well.  You have to give Indiana some credit, because they made some plays.  They've got seven or eight seniors on defense and they did a nice job of hanging in there.  I'll have to watch the film to see exactly what caused some of the breakdowns on both sides of the ball.  I didn't see any panic at all.  There was some concern certainly but no panic and again all you have to do is make a play at the end.  I would like to say that there will be no more games that go down to the wife, but I have a feeling a whole bunch of them will, or at least I hope they do."

Question:  Is Martavious (Odoms) the number one option on that last touchdown?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No that was a check.  We had one play called.  We thought we saw a certain coverage that they were going into and so we checked into that play.  That's a play that we had executed really well since the beginning of camp.  It is one of the first plays we put in.  Tay did a nice route and Tate (Forcier); he was a little sore, but he hung in there and made a great throw on that one to win it."

Question:  What happened a couple of plays before when Tate got banged up?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I don't know.  He got tingled a little bit with his shoulder.  He laid down on the field a little longer than normal, we teach them that if it is the quarterback or center so the backup quarterback or the next quarterback can get some exchanges and snaps in.  He went out there.  When I looked at him, he was smiling, and he said I'm doing what you tell us to do (laughter) – laying on the field a little bit.  He got back up and I'm sure he'll be a little sore for a few days.  We got quite a few guys that got to get healthy this week."

Question:  Did Indiana show you something that they hadn't shown on film?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Defensively not as much.  Offense, I had not seen them do as much no-huddle, which they did a little bit today, and they did a few things formation wise that maybe our defense didn't see.  I'll have to talk to our defensive coaches about that.  There were some times when it looked like we were running around a little bit and not getting set.  Our defensive coaches will do a good job and try to correct that.  Because they had a nice plan and they executed it."

Question:  What about the struggles getting the snaps?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Some was that, you know David Molk is so good at it.  David Moosman did a nice job.  I have to go and see exactly what the stats were. I could hardly tell where they at.  Some of them were so hard that if they were off even a little bit that it kind of exacerbated the problem.  The ball was a little misty, a little wet, so that didn't help as well.  I think we had three straight possessions where we had a problem with that. and it was 15-20 yard losses… and those will just kill a drive.  I think it was in the third quarter that we had two or three straight in a row that just kill drives.  We have to fix that obviously."

Question:  What about the penalties? You guys have been pretty good with that.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah until today.  There were a couple of them that maybe were poor technique and then there was a couple others that we will review and see.  I'll have to watch on film and see where we're at."

Question:  How about the five in the backfield?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Well with (Mark) Ortmann…I was upset about it, but the official had warned him I think a couple of times before and normally they don't call it very much, they just keep warning you, but I think after they warn you a couple of times, they're ready to throw the flag.  That was a big turnover at the time.  Those are things that are easier corrected and something that shouldn't happen again."

Question:  Can you talk about holding them to field goals after the mistakes?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah it was almost like the Wisconsin game from last year.  Had those been touchdowns, it might have been a little bit more difficult.  We wouldn't have laid over I don't think, but it would have been tough for us to come back and that kept us in the game, at least keeping those down to field goals and within one strike of getting the lead."

Question:  On the defense…

Coach Rodriguez:  "I want them stop three and out every time.  The defensive staff will tell you the same thing.  We have to remember that there are a lot of first year starters playing defensively.  Some guys getting some reps for the first time.  We only have two seniors, so we're pretty inexperienced, but they hang in there.  Again, I've got to watch the film and talk with the coaches and see what the breakdowns were defensively.  The only thing that was disappointing was a couple of long plays, like the last long run; there was a long pass.  Things that we can't afford to do and hopefully we'll get better at it."

Question:  Why did you take Boubacar (Cissoko) out and what did you say to him?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I didn't say anything to him.  The defensive guys made a change.  I don't know if he is hurt or not.  I'm going to try to stay positive here.  Boubacar has been a pretty good player, but I was proud of the way JT (Floyd) when he went in there.  I thought he had played pretty well.  He had one penalty and we'll have to watch the film on that.  JT has been playing pretty well in practice, so he deserved a chance."

Question:  Is there something you can look at on the defense and say that's something we need to correct heading deeper into the conference season?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I can say more after I watch the film and talk to the defensive coaches.  Again, I can judge a little bit of it watching from the sideline, but the defensive staff will do a good job of correcting it.  Whether it is personnel, scheme or have you, those are things that we have to get corrected.  As long as they are playing hard, giving great effort and great focus, it gives you a chance.  At least from my vantage point that has been there in every game.  Now are we playing great, no, but we'll hopefully get better."

Question:  Obviously Tate Forcier is a guy that is going to make good plays, but sometimes do you want him to hold back?   He had the interception…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, again, I think that is part of the maturity of a young quarterback of understanding when it is there and when it's not there.  Sometimes, more in particular with a quarterback you focus on where his eyes are at.  A young quarterback, his eyes are everywhere.  In the first half, I think Tate's eyes were everywhere, on the field, in the stadium, State Street, over at Schembechler Hall… I don't know where his eyes are – they were everywhere.  Finally when he got his eyes on focused on exactly where he should look at, he made a few plays.  Again, that's a learning curve and we shouldn't worry too much as long as it not repetitive.  Tate is very, very coachable and he and Denard (Robinson) I think will both get better from this."

Question:  You used Denard more in than in the past? Did that have something to do with Tate being banged up?

Coach Rodriguez:  "A little bit, but more just by design and again, as Denard continues to learn the offense, we're going to do more and more with him.  I was proud.  He made some big runs.  He made some nice plays.  Again, we've got more that we can do with Denard and as we get into the season and in particular when our guys get sore and tough battles; he'll play more and more.  Again, I consider him and Tate both as guys that we feel comfortable putting in at any time."

Question:  Did Tate get dinged in the head?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No."

Question:  He pointed to his head, does that mean bring him out?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Naw, I think it means I'm going to lay down for a while (laughter) take a little blow and I'll get the next guy."

Question:   Daryl (Stonum) is very confident obviously in taking those kickoffs from deep in the end zone?

Coach Rodriguez:  "As long as the kick is not too high.  Because it has to cover 70 yards to kick it from the 30, even if it is five yards deep, you aught to bring it out.  Now if it gets deeper than five or a high kick, then we'll have the off returner tell him to stay in there.  Daryl, he came really close.  Again, I'll have to watch the film.  After watching it, we'll probably be disappointed because he was probably within one trip up two or three times of taking it the distance.  That is something that we were really, really close at.  Daryl wasn't 100%, I think during this week and he ran okay on those.  He is very good back there.  We have to be prepared for some different returns now that we've had some success."

Question:  This coming week, Michigan State lost, they're 1-3 in a rivalry game… are you leery of a team like that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm leery of a rivalry game every time.  I think all coaches would.  It doesn't matter the records.  It doesn't matter the venue.  It is going to be very, very intense.  It was intense last year.  I'm sure it has been intense every year.  They've got an outstanding football team.  I don't know what the result was today was for them, but it is going to be a very, very physical game.  I'm sure their coach and myself won't have any problems getting our guys focused trying to get ready for this one."

Question:  Are you looking forward to seeing your guys playing on the road coach?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Can we play all 12 at home; if they let us do that, we'd play all 12 here at the Big House.  It's tremendous, what a great crowd.  You'll find out a lot about your team and I think your team matures a lot in a tough road environment and we're getting ready to do that."

Question:  You had three offensive linemen out of position; how did it look?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think okay, again you have to watch the film.  I'm not sure if we were as sound pushing them off the ball a little bit and creating some seams.  We did run the football at times in key drives and did a nice job of getting a hat on a hat.  Now did we press the line of scrimmage as much as I would like, probably not but hopefully we'll get a little better at that."

Question:  Can you talk about the running game a little bit and how you used those guys and Carlos (Brown) had the two big plays earlier and didn't play much the second quarter.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah Carlos got a little sore.  He had some sores knees and put some ice on it and he should be fine.  Brandon Minor was a little sore with that foot again, but we told him we needed him at the end to get a first down and particularly at the last play, they may have a guy in the hole, a safety and you're going to have to run over him.  He said that's okay coach, we'll do that.  He ran hard.  I would like to get Mike Shaw and I say Vincent Smith, but we have enough guys in there.  There is no question that Carlos and Brandon, our two veterans are the two guys we want in there at crunch time if at all possible."

Question:  Do you feel like Denard Robinson gained some confidence in his passing today?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I hope so.  He can make all the throws.  Again, it is never an issue with our guys being able to throw, but it is what they are doing with their eyes and what they are seeing on the field.  Again, as Tate goes every week and Denard goes every week in practice, they'll learn to do some of those things.  They'll keep getting better.  I'm not sure if they took a big leap forward, but I don't think they took a huge step back as well.  I think they learned as all the guys do and hopefully we'll get better from it."

Question:  You scored on the first drive of the game and then with Carlos getting that second touchdown…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah the screen play for a touchdown was huge, just because we wanted to keep the crowd into the game.  We had a tremendous crowd and they get deflated if the other team jumps on you.  To answer right back and get another one, but I knew from the start that you could just tell in the first half that this was going to be a game that went down to the last minute."


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