Rich Rodriguez Opening Statement: First, before you get to your questions. I want to thank our fans for coming out. To have 106,000 to come out for obviously a game that we're supposed to win and for students to show up… they have a long weekend with Monday and Tuesday off with the study break… I was hoping the crowd would be like it was, but with a chilly day, I thought was just tremendous. I know it gave our guys a lift. We had a lot of fun out there and played a lot of guys. It kind of went according to plan, which is a good thing. We played some young guys. At the end we got a chance to play some fourth of fifth year guys that had never been on the field, but have been in the program. To see the smiles on their faces and see how excited their teammates were to get them out there was pretty neat.
Question: When you know that neither of your senior running backs were going to be available?
Rich Rodriguez: "I knew about Carlos on Thursday. With Brandon, he could have gone, but I hoped we would be able to keep him out. We dressed him just in case. He did very limited work in warm ups, then obviously as the game went on we told him to rest up so we could get him ready for next weekend."
Question: On Carlos Brown's condition...
Rich Rodriguez: "He had I guess a lingering headache from the concussion. Hopefully that will be cleared up by Monday's practice."
Question: How much of a morale boost is that for the guys that are usually prepping other guys to play?
Rich Rodriguez: "That's the big thing… Our scout teams are so important in giving us a look. For them to get on the field, even it's just one snap it's a big boost because they can remember that forever… playing at home in the big house when their family and friends are here which is pretty neat… and they've earned that. But obviously in a close ball game or a tight ball game it is difficult to put them in there, but in a home game when you're comfortably ahead… I think in the second half it was all twos and threes and some others. It's sometimes hard because they're not running our offense during the week or our defense during the week, but I'm still proud of the way they came in there and competed. I know it was a lot of fun for the guys to watch them.
Question: Was there any thought given to Tate not playing at all?
Rich Rodriguez: "We had thought about that, but he had progressed really well during the week. He practiced well Wednesday and Thursday… and he needs some reps. He's still a freshman so every rep that he gets is valuable...not only in games but in practice. We were talking about playing him in a few series, but the first series went well and then Denard scored on the second series, so I thought it was good. After that I thought it's no use taking a chance or anything like that. It's kind of the way you look at it. When you change quarterbacks some people say you're pulling the quarterback. I choose say you rotate them. We were planning on rotating Denard quite a bit anyway. When we got him in there we wanted to throw a few times, which we did. Sometimes I think we were a little bit late on our timing, but it's still good to get that on time.
Question: Were you expecting to work Vincent Smith as much as you did?
Rich Rodriguez: "Vincent and Mike Shaw were the two guys we wanted to get a lot of reps, so we were able to do that. Mike Cox finished up in the end. He has got some talent. Again, he is down on the scout team so he is not with the first or second offense much, but I thought he ran pretty hard. And we had planned on getting Kevin Grady some carries as well, and we were able to do that."
Question: What else do you get from this besides playing some of the fourth or fifth year guys?
Rich Rodriguez: "Really we had not been able to play, because we've had some many close games… at least four that went down to the wire… we had not been able to get out twos a lot of quality reps or a lot of game reps, and today they played more than the starters. That is critical because we have to develop more depth. We have five more games and no open dates. We've been healthy at some spots up front… Hopefully this week we'll get David Molk back. We're hoping. And we'll get some more depth from the twos. Again I'll watch the tape and see which one of those twos can challenge some of the ones."
Question: With the one game and some extra practice this week… will that be enough to get them in the rotation?
Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, it will be enough at least for us to evaluate. Sometimes a guys will pop up and we'll say ‘geez, we've been thinking about playing him a little bit more and he has showing it during the week and he showed it during the game even though it's a game that we're comfortably ahead.' Maybe we have to give e him a shot on offense or defense or special teams."
Question: When you say get Molk back, do you think he'll be ready for Penn State?
Rich Rodriguez: "We're hoping. He did a little bit last week in practice. He took a few reps, but nothing in full pads. He is progressing pretty well and that's the hope… to get him back this week"
Question: Did you get out of this game unscathed and is that a win?
Rich Rodriguez: "As far as I know, and that's a win. In the second half I know all of the starters were off… even on special teams. I think even late in the first half we started taking some of the starters out of there and limiting some of their reps."
Question: Without the benefit of looking at film, were there any reserves that jumped out at you?
Rich Rodriguez: "I couldn't tell just yet. I thought the running backs… again I thought Mike Shaw made some nice runs. Vincent Smith… and I know I've been saying it for a few weeks… made some nice cuts and some nice runs, but I have to watch the film and see if there's anybody else there. We have some areas to work on too. We had nine penalties and that's disappointing, the kickoff coverage was disappointing… we've got a lot of things to work on with that, so there's a lot of work to do."
Question: With Carlos and Brandon's injury history, how important was it to get your other backs reps?
"A lot of people say you need at least two tailbacks… I think you need at least three, maybe four. Particularly in our offense where we like to play two at one time in the same formation. It's critical that we get those guys some reps. Mike and Vincent aren't big guys… Carlos and Brandon are bigger backs…. but those two are pretty physical for their size. They've got to keep getting better and I think they will."
Question: Is it better to have this game now as opposed to a month ago?
Rich Rodriguez: "It fell this way so we didn't have much choice, but I think in the beginning of the year you can maybe do a little more evaluating. You'd rather evaluate, ‘hey, these are guys that can help us and identify that at the beginning of the year as opposed to the middle of the year. This is still a good week for us… particularly (after) being on the road a couple weeks. Our guys are happy in the locker room. I think they are happy with the win, but I (also) think they're happy because their teammates got to play. Again we played 82 or 83 guys. These guys, and I've said it for a long time, I think they're very very close and they care about each other. To see some of their teammates get in there for the first time, it was pretty emotional in the locker room. It was pretty fun"
Question: Tay Odoms at punt returner… will that be an ongoing thing?
Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, and we still have Greg and we still have Junior. We wanted to try Tay out there and he made a couple of nice returns. It was good to see that."
Question: With Denard did you want to get him a little more involved in the passing game?
Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, that was the plan. We wanted to get in there and run some of the passing plays and train him with his eyes. I don't know how many times he threw it... four? We wanted more than that (laughing). We got up ahead a little bit. We were planning on throwing more with him."
Question: What were you looking for from your quarterbacks further down the depth chart, like Sheridan?
Rich Rodriguez: "We think an awful lot of Nick. He has gotten better and he has worked hard at it. He is like a coach for us on the practice field and on the game field. He sees very well and he knows our offense. He is going to be an outstanding coach. It was good to see him go out there and run the offense a little bit. And David Cone… Our players love David Cone because he is a great teammate, he gives a great look every week on the scout team, and he knows our offense as well. Those guys put the time in, so it was good to see them have a little fun."
Question: When did James Rogers move to corner?
Rich Rodriguez: "We moved him this week. He came to me actually a week or two ago and asked, ‘hey listen, if I can help…' So I said, ‘well let's wait.' Then this week we thought this is a good week to try him. He got a lot of reps, so we'll see how he did. I haven't watched the film yet obviously."
Question: You didn't have anyone throw anymore in nine times. Was that because you didn't want to run up the score?
Rich Rodriguez: "There were moments where they had everyone in the box and we could have checked to a pass, but there was no need to really do that. We wanted to run the offense so to speak, but there was no need to show anything that you don't have to show. So run that balance… you want to run the offense. You don't want to go in there and just hand the ball off in the same formation… that's not fair to offense. You also don't want to show anything that you may be using the next couple weeks either."
Question: Were there any freshman that you used that hadn't played yet and were on the line when it comes to being redshirted?
Rich Rodriguez: "No, we were very mindful of the guys we plan on redshirting."
Question: Do you have to tell your team not to get too excited about this game with Penn State looming?
Rich Rodriguez: "Our guys understand that. Our guys are pretty intelligent. They know this was a game we obviously should win. I've said many times that I-A teams should beat I-AA teams. That doesn't always happen… you still have to play and know that they are going to be fired up to play you. I think more than anything, our guys were excited to be back home. We played on the road a couple of tough games that we didn't pull out. But it was good to be back home. Our guys love playing in the Big House. There's a big challenge this week. As soon as we were running up the tunnel… guys were talking about Penn State. They said, ‘we got Penn State this week! Let's turn it around.' They have tomorrow off and then we practice Monday. I bet you that there will be guys that after enjoying this for a little while tonight, they'll start thinking about Penn State right away."
Question: Do you think today was a picture of the future of the program considering all of the runners you have?
Rich Rodriguez: "We've got to develop more depth. We weren't able to play at the fast tempo like we wanted to at times today. I've said many times that I'll know we've arrived when our twos are far behind our ones and we're playing them quite about more… not just in games like today. I think in the future we'll see that."
Question: Carlos didn't practice at all last week?
Rich Rodriguez: "He did some reps, but again it up to the doctor's decision when you have a headache or symptoms of a headache on Thursday... that makes you nervous. The doctors obviously are very very cautious with that, and they should be."
Question: When did you know that Tate was going to be able to go?
Rich Rodriguez: "Tuesday. Well, they did tests every day, but on Tuesday he has no lingering effects and he practiced on Wednesday. But they continued to do test all the way through Friday. Again that's something that the doctors and the trainers do… not the coaches. All the tests that he had… the computer tests and medical tests he had throughout the week continued to be okay after Tuesday."
Question: Had he had to play the entire game today, you would have felt comfortable?
Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, but he wouldn't' have anyway because Denard was going to play some regardless. We would have rotated them... not pull them (laughing)."
Question: Why didn't J.T. Floyd play?
Rich Rodriguez: "J.T. was sick. He was sick still last night. I don't know what flu symptom he has, but he was still sick last night and I don't think he is feeling very well today."
Question: Are you thinking redshirt with J.T. Turner?
Rich Rodriguez: Yeah, we're thinking that right now."
Question: Is Boubacar Cissoko still suspended?
Rich Rodriguez: "Yes. It's day to day with him."