QUESTION: Did you the offensive line play as well as you thought they did?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: They played pretty solid. It wasn't our best game. Coach Frey and I thought that they really played hard which it was to be expected. But very talented active front. They held their own in there and did a nice job.
There are some technical things and fundamental things we need to continue to get better at. But I was pleased with the effort, and it gave us a chance.
QUESTION: Talk about Troy at cornerback?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, a little bit out of necessity, a little bit out of trying to just, again, solidify our back end, our secondary. And Troy had a tweaked ankle, but I thought he performed pretty well for not being out there. He was there during practice. But not having been in the game, I thought both the corners played pretty solid.
QUESTION: How much did that affect the secondaries taking him out of that position?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Not too much the guy that had to make the move was Kovacs. But he knows him well assignment wise. He is pretty sharp. Troy new corner, that is a little easy to learn. But playing the other safety was pretty good at his first game there at strong, I should say.
QUESTION: Who plays this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Tate.
QUESTION: Any further thoughts after watching the film?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, further thoughts is that they did exactly what we thought as far as quarterback-wise. We made a few mistakes as a freshman will make. And Denard gave us a little spark at the end. Tate got a little concussion, which I didn't know at the time. On his last play, he got hit pretty good. So he wasn't ... you could tell he was not quite himself afterwards, and he'll be limited today. Those concussions things as you probably follow with the Tebow situation are kind of day-to-day. I don't think it was a severe one, But he still has a headache today. I know everyone wants to talk to him after the game, but when you're a true freshman and you've got a pretty good headache and tough ballgame, I hope y'all can realize you need a few days to decipher that. Some people don't let even upperclassmen quarterback talk sometimes. So don't get too upset when I make a decision not to let the true freshman speak sometimes.
QUESTION: Was Tate's thumb okay?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I don't think there is anything with his thumb. And his shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks. But it didn't bother him too much in the game. Even in warm-ups because it's a little chilly out there, I thought Tate would take a while to loosen up. But really in the warm-ups he said it felt pretty good.
Even though he got treatment on it after the game, I don't think it bothered him as much as it did the week before.
QUESTION: It seemed he was more cognizant of sliding or diving instead of taking a hit?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He does that anyway. A couple of times he almost lost his balance trying to get just short of a first down. He and Denard aren't real big guys yet physically. They're not 220-pound guys. So you want to limit the amount of hits they take.
QUESTION: Considering he has a concussion that still hurts today, is there any chance you won't play him on Saturday?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: That is always a medical decision. I don't get into that. The doctors and the trainers tell us each day and each week who is available and not available. And we would never put anybody out there that is not 100% or able to go.
I don't think Tate's was a ... again, I don't know because I haven't seen him yet today ... how severe it was. But I do know that after the game our trainer said he got dinged a little bit. Because you could tell a little bit on the sidelines at the end of the game, and again, today this morning he came in for treatment and still had a little bit of a headache. So those things can clear very quickly. Like Carlos (Brown)is fine. he got dinged last Tuesday and still wasn't cleared for Saturday, but he's fine today.
QUESTION: So it seems like your decision ... you said you didn't know about that until after?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I didn't know about it until after the game.
QUESTION: So the decisions with Denard?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: That's Denard anyway.
QUESTION: It seemed like he wanted to go back out on that last series and you grabbed him and pulled him back?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't remember grabbing anybody. Denard was going in the game. All right, now be patient here. What we did in the game is what we did in the game, and that's what happened. And Denard went out there and did a nice job on one drive. On the last drive we didn't score and they won.
QUESTION: In this game you seem to block the backside end, is there a reason?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We did sometimes. You were paying attention to the offense at times. Yeah, we had some different. Depending on how teams played defensively, we have some different calls up front, whether we read the end or block the end. Sometimes the quarterback reads the end, sometimes he reads somebody else. And in this game, in particular, we had some different reads for the quarterback. And Tate made some good decisions. There were a couple I think he'd like to have back. But, yeah, we did change some schemes up a little bit. We'd have a little bit more. Again, that's part of the offense as we go along, we have a little bit more we can do. Not just up front, because the running backs and the quarterbacks are involved in those run-game decisions. As we go forward, we'll do what we can with them as well.
QUESTION: Are you worried about getting your team psyched up for this weekend's game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You worry about it a little bit. It's not the same atmosphere you have on a primetime Saturday night game we had last week. But you have to talk to them quite a bit. Everybody knows if you're a 1A team or FBS ... I'm being politically correct ... and you're playing a 1AA team, no, we're FCS, that called 1A, 1AA, I'll get in trouble with that.
But if you're a 1A team, you're expected to be a 1AA team. Everybody knows that. That's not a big secret. But as we all know, this year, last year, and the last several years it doesn't always happen that way. They've got players that can play. Watching their team speed I've been really impressed. We'll get their Super Bowl, it's their best shot. So our guys have to understand that. In particular as a coach you worry about everything. You worry about a team that has, you know, 21, 22-year-olds which they do, eight or nine seniors. They've got a chip on their shoulder because they want to prove they can play against our guys who are 18 and 19-year-olds in some spots. So we better prepare our guys to handle that. I hope the way our guys have been focused really the last ten or 11 weeks will continue to carry on. I would be shocked if it doesn't.
QUESTION: What about Brandon Minor? Is he okay?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I've said this several times. We're different when Brandon is in there because of his physical presence. Not just running the ball, but pass blocking. He just wrings that hard-edge attitude. Just loves the passion he plays with. We'll probably limit him a little bit. I have not seen him yet. But he's different ... we're different when he's in there because of his physical presence. Not that the little guys aren't good. Carlos is a very good player, and Mike Shaw and Vincent Smith. We have Collins, Simmons. We think Brandon Minor is one of the most physical runners in the country.
QUESTION: What do you get out of playing this game on Saturday?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We get a home game. We play 12. And I think we don't have to belabor the whole deal. But it is not easy to schedule as maybe everybody would think. In particular when you have to have home games, a certain number of home games. We were in such a short time period to get it scheduled. You know, the future is not as much of an issue because you can plan out the next five or six years. But even then it's become more and more competitive. I guess, the schedule of that 12th game, and to get one at home because just about ... not everybody, but most people are playing a 1AA team. I think there are some of them playing two. But for us to get that hold, it was a struggle. Particularly in the middle of the season when we had that open day to get scheduled. It was very, very difficult. Earlier in the year it's a little bit easier. But mid-season most teams are in their conference schedule and it's more difficult to do that. So we had to find a home game, scramble it around, and we're lucky we got one.
QUESTION: Do you want to continue playing 1AA?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't mind playing one. Our schedule, we always have an attractive home schedule with the Big Ten slate. We have Notre Dame every other year. The way we've scheduled some of the other one for nones, I guess you could say, bring another school that don't have to return the date, that's worked out good for us.
QUESTION: West Virginia played it seems like higher quality 1AA opponents?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We were there when it was scheduled there, we were able to get it four years in advance.
QUESTION: Are you looking at more CAA-type schools in the future?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, be careful what you say. You have to be careful. But I think as you go forward, again, I think you have more time to schedule four, five, six years in advance. If you're going to put a 1AA on your schedule, you can get one that is maybe the better fit or more attractive name-wise. But let's not dismiss the 63 scholarships. If you looked at our total of guys that were on scholarship originally out of high school, not counting the walk-ons, we're pretty close to that.
QUESTION: On Denard, how comfortable are you with him in the offense? And what's he been able to learn since the start of camp?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He would take both, Tate's had a few months ahead of him. But 15 practices in the spring is not a whole lot more. But with both those guys you hope every week that you can, you know, not only get them to understand what we're doing offensively, but understand how teams are defending us. That is the thing you get in with during the season is that every defensive game plan you go against is maybe a little bit different. Iowa's package defensively was a little different than what Michigan State was, little bit different than what Notre Dame was. So you have to balance that time. Okay, this is what we do, and this is what they're doing, and it sometimes stunts their growth. You can't put as much in. As a coach, I talked about it. Regardless of who we're playing this week, it's mid-season. We've got to step back a little bit and say what really do our guys understand? Not just Tate and Denard, but our young guys. What do they understand in our offense, what can we execute well, and how do we go forward as far as putting things in. So there are so many things more we want to do offensively, but we don't want to confuse the young guys. And they're, again, for true freshmen at quarterback. And it's not just quarterback. I don't know if I can express how much they're learning, you know, not just from a football scheme standpoint, but class and time management and being here in the college setting. I mean, this is a school you have to ... you all know ... you have to pay close attention to your studies. It's a challenge. That's what makes this a great institution. To balance all that out, most freshmen get red shirted. Nearly every freshman at quarterback gets red shirted. How many has there been? Chad did, I guess. He enrolled early, correct? Did Chad enroll in January? Yeah. That's remarkable. Chad did it. Before him the legendary Rick Leach. So there's not been a lot. These guys are doing pretty well accordingly. I get excited when I think about how much they'll progress when we have some time in spring practice and all that to go with it.
QUESTION: Are you getting what you want from your outside receivers or would you like to get them more involved?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I wish we would have gotten them more involved in the last game. We some things that either didn't get involved or didn't get open. They did a nice job with that. We have talented guys out there, but we have to get them, you know, whether it's Greg or Junior or Darryl and all that. I think they did one of their best jobs this year blocking on the perimeter. I was really proud of the way they got after them pretty good. But we've got to get them more involved.
QUESTION: It's the mid-point of the year. Are you happy with where you're at?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, I'm not happy with the two losses. I think, again, there were two pretty good teams in tough environments. But there were also moments where we'd like to have back. Whether it's unforced errors. They forced some of the errors, but there were a lot of errors that were unforced. Whether it was it was on offense or defense. You'd like to have those back, and all of a sudden maybe you won those games or sneaked one of those out. But I've been really happy with our guys' preparation. Been really happy with their focus and intensity. I think a couple of games we've been a little more intense coming out of the locker room than others. But the road games guys were ready to play, and they really played hard. And I really like the way ... I know I said it's a bunch of time and focus on, but I really like the way they stayed together and worked toward a common goal. It's frustrating when you lose a couple tough ones like we have. But I don't think this team will not continue to be a work in progress.
QUESTION: How have the inside receivers played?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think Martavious Odoms has played really well. For a little guy he's getting better. Kevin Koger at tight end. Martell has played really solid. Kevin Koger I think has been really solid. We're challenging a little bit more some those guys in the running game. Their production has been pretty solid so far.
QUESTION: How pleased are you with the tight ends?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We throw the ball to the tight end quite a bit. How much catches does he have? I'm not looking at stats. Maybe you all could. He's got 12? Seems like more. That's record for me for tight end. You double that the rest of the year, that's 24. He's got quite a few opportunities. We've not thrown it as much at times. A couple of games we were running it quite a bit, but they've done pretty well.
QUESTION: Do you attribute any of the late-game interception by Tate at Michigan State and then Denard's interception to being in a road environment at the end of the game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Not really. I would consider that if it was a communication. You know, whether it's a sideline to field communication or on the field communication issue. But I don't think it was. I think it was, you know, maybe a decision they'd like to have back or a fundamental thing when they're throwing. Denard's and Tate's, both, were maybe their eyes weren't bright. I think in both of those cases. Again, not going through all the technical jargon, but a lot of time as a younger quarterback and you see this quite a bit is when they make wrong decisions with their eyes first, it leads to a wrong decision with their arm or their feet. And that is usually the case with younger guys. They're not looking at the right spot or right thing.
QUESTION: They've got four turnovers in the last three games. Is this a product of better teams and tougher lines?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Again, sometimes you're a young athlete and you're pretty talented. You want to make every play. When you have success doing it, you know, you want to continue to do that even though sometimes better judgment is to not try to create something that is not there. But you don't want to limit it. Part of Tate and Denard both, part of their outstanding ability is their ability to create. So you don't want to limit it too much. Yet at the same time you have to try to do it within the structure of the offense. That is kind of unique. Shaun King called me yesterday. You know, Shaun is one of those talking heads now, and doing pretty well at it. But anyway, Shaun was in the offense, 10, 11 years ago at Tulane, and Shaun had some of that same creativity. What we tried to do and harness him in and we talked about it yesterday quite a bit. There is enough in our offense that you can have creativity and create something within the framework of the offense. It takes a little while to learn that. To let your progressions go through, and then if it breaks down and if a key or clue comes up there, then you can go ahead and create. That is part of what a lot of quarterbacks learned. Shaun learned that, Pat White learned that, Rasheed Marshall, and Tate and Denard are learning that as we speak.
QUESTION: Maybe the size?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Tate's not a taller guy. Sometimes he tries to create vision by running around. Sometimes it's worked for him, and sometimes it doesn't. So part of our thinking with Coach Smith and I talked about, and we'll talk about with Tate, is that we don't want him to not lose his ability to do some things. But there is also some discipline involved.
Everybody says be in the pocket. Sometimes it's dangerous when the quarterback gets out of the pocket. We know that from our own standpoint. But there are other times when you can stay in there if your eyes are right and create some vision by moving this way instead of running over here and running over there. He'll get that. Tate is very coachable. Both those guys. Denard is very coachable. So what they've learned so far is pretty remarkable. Again, you look at being in that environment, it's tough to communicate and all that kind of stuff. They've been pretty sound in a lot of that stuff. But there's a lot of coachable moments, too.
QUESTION: Now that we're at the mid point of the season, did you say barring any injuries that the freshmen who have not played are going to red shirt?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I couldn't tell you that yet. There are still so many games left. With six games left there is still so much football out there that we were going to tell our guys that they have to keep playing. I'm sure a lot of them in their mind want to say that. That's why I've said it for many years, we ought to have five. We ought to have five years of eligibility. Let's not have five for four. Let's have five for five. Football's a different sport. It's a tough, violent collision sport. Guys get injured. You see it more and more all the time now. I'd love to have a couple freshmen on special teams and ease their way into there and all of that. For whatever reason, that rule is not getting passed. That is baffling to me. Coaches seem to be behind it. It's not a cost measure at all. But somebody's got to take the flag and carry that up the hill for us to get a pass.
QUESTION: Is there a chance we could see Turner? He's traveling with you guys?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he's traveling and still in our thoughts. It really depends on how much he learned.
QUESTION: Boubacar practiced?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he's practicing. He's been practicing with the scout team. He'll continue to do that until he does all the things that he has to do to get unsuspended.
QUESTION: Is it specifically academics?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, it's a couple of other things, but that's part of it. That's part of it. So hopefully he'll do ... it's important to him, I know that. Playing football is important to him. And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level.
QUESTION: How was practice?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He was pretty good in practice last week. He was on the scout team all week. Talking to our academic folks, and he was doing things he's supposed to do there for the most part. But it's a daily thing, so we'll see.
QUESTION: Obviously, attention is put on concussions with Tebow getting so much attention now you have a couple in two weeks. Are there more concussions?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think there is. I don't know what the answer is because we've talked quite a bit with coaches and trainers and I've got a very good friend of mine who is a brain surgeon named Julian Bales who is one of the ... he's back in West Virginia. He's a neurosurgeon, and I think one of the leaders in the country as far as understanding that. That diagnosis of concussion and all of that. We've talked about that in the past. I don't know if there's anything more you can do. The helmet manufacturers are doing all they can to have a safer helmet. But I think what's happening is these young guys are getting so much bigger, stronger and faster. Even though you can take the helmet out of the game, which you should, you should never lead with your helmet. There are collisions where the head gets involved. And when you get these young, strong athletes hitting each other at full speed, it's like a car wreck. I don't want to say it's ... it's never going to be completely unavoidable. As coaches and trainers that is something we're really concerned about. What we always do is constantly remind your guys you've got to wear your mouth piece. That is required. It's not required in the NFL, I don't think the. It should be. It is in college and in high school. It should be, because that helps with the concussion. You keep the air in your helmets. We have the helmets with air in them. We have our equipment managers constantly check the air at the right level. And the air sometimes gets on out at times, you want to make sure those heads are tight and a little uncomfortable so you're as safe as you can be.
QUESTION: Did Tate show any lingering effects from that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't think so. He still played. Didn't show any after effects after the game.
QUESTION: You think now we have freshmen coming in early. Coming in in January, going out for spring ball. Getting workouts in the summer. They add a 12th game, is this just a product of playing more?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I don't think so. I know that's a good point. We've talked about that. It's more games. In the old days you played ten. Now you're going to play 12, conference championships games, or whatever. But in the old days you used to hit a lot more in practice, too. I remember in spring practice you had T-shirts, I hit for 20. You had 20 full pad practices, and now we have eight that we have full tackling in. I know in the old days even in our practices, we used to hit on Tuesday and Wednesday and half shells on Thursdays. Now Tuesdays are the only days that we really go full. So I think coaches in general have all scaled back. It used to be two-a-days every day or three-a-days and you had full pads on all the time. I think the athletes have gotten faster, and stronger. And as good a job as the helmet manufacturers have gotten, I don't think you can keep pace with that. You see it in the NFL all the time. They've probably had ... back in the day, we've all had concussions and didn't know it was a concussion, it was just a headache. Now they're diagnosed with a question. Ask somebody a question back in the old days, didn't answer right they'd say this guy ain't very smart. Now they say he didn't answer the question right because he's got a concussion. I on hope the guys don't use that as an excuse in class. I think it's a good thing that there is more recognition of exactly what that area is. But I think it is still ongoing. I don't know that anybody has the answer to it other than to continue to monitor the helmets, the mouthpieces, keep the head out of the game as much as possible. You didn't have it in the old days with the new face mask back when Larry was playing when you had the leather helmets and no face max because you were going to put your head in there. Nowadays we have to teach. We urge our guys all the time about it. I'm sure high school coaches do as well. You cannot lead with helmet. That is a great rule that they put in. Those guys coming down and spearing with that helmet is dangerous, and you should never do that in football.
QUESTION: Duff full contact when Carlos got dinged?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he got dinged pretty good. It wasn't a spear job. It was on the inside period when I think the offense was going against the defense. And I think it was one of the big D-linemen that hit him. I don't know if it was on the side of the head or something, but it was a good pop. A good, physical practice. Speaking of which, I don't want you to blame Bruce, but we do have to limit or not have the media at practice on Wednesday anymore. Not because it's anybody's fault, but I made the decision because I guess it was out on ... I don't know if it was newspapers or Blogs on or certain plays that we were running you know this is the way we're doing it. And I guess it was during the walk through.
I thought, Geez, you know, I've been pretty open about practice and let everybody view practice and see who is out there. But when plays get written down, I hope you can understand where I'm coming from. When plays are described on newspapers or Blogs and, you know, what you're seeing, I get as a coach, Geez, I can't have that out there. That's not fair.
QUESTION: Was it plays?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, both. Both.
QUESTION: How much do you know of them?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We've been watching their films since yesterday. They look very similar to us offensively. Shotgun, spread, read zone, some of the things, defensively, you know, the even front. Don't pressure a whole lot, but will probably bring a little bit more against us.
QUESTION: Now that colleges are going to have 12 games almost all of them are doing it because of the money. If it was your decision and you were running college football, would this be a bye week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: As opposed to 12?
QUESTION: Yeah. This would be a bye week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. I'd play 11 games. Our athletic department probably wouldn't like that. They leek the revenue from a 12th game. But from a football coach, heck, yeah. Let's play five or on six, or four or five and then have a bye week and go. Now I believe next year the way the calendar falls and we move our game with Ohio State back a week, there is a bye week I think in the schedule next year, correct? Most coaches that I know of would like to have at least one. In the NFL they all have one, correct. They play 16 games and they have a smaller roster. But if in the NFL if a guy gets hurt, they bring somebody in from the practice squad or pick somebody up off waivers. We're not doing that. We're trying to red shirt our guys, there is no practice squad or waiver wire to get our guys. Our guys have class. Again, they're being student-athletes so they're going to class. So you'd like to have a time where you can catch your breath a little bit. Take a couple of days off and do all that. But you can't afford to do it when you have 12 straight. We're not the only team in it. There are a lot of Big Ten, I think. The Big Ten in particular has, I don't know how many. Several of us doing the same schedule. Illinois and Wisconsin, I think, are doing the week after Ohio State.
QUESTION: With Tate, what day does he need to practice for him to play this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: By Wednesday. He's missed a little bit of practice the last couple of weeks. I don't know that it's helped in his development. I think he's smart enough that he's been okay. He's been limited in our Monday and Tuesday practices the last couple of weeks. He's done some things, but not everything. He has to be cleared by Wednesday, I think, in order to be ready to go. Again, I don't know how severe it is. He wasn't, you know, he was after the game he could tell you the headache, and the towel over his head and all that. But I don't know. Until I see him today or the trainers see him for another 24 hours, we'll know.
QUESTION: At what point did you make that decision? Was it something you thought about a couple of weeks ago?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Really last week. After the Michigan State game. The defensive coaches may have been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, but it was last week when he mentioned it to me.
QUESTION: As far as Molk… any progress report?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think he did some snaps yesterday. I think the trainers are going to take him out on the field, and do some limited things with him and see if he can run around and see how sore he is afterwards.
QUESTION: Any rush with him…
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Same with anybody. We don't want to rush anybody who is not ready to go. So I know he's been itching to get out there as soon as he can.
Week 7 Presser Transcript
QUESTION: Did you the offensive line play as well as you thought they did?