Full Transcript: Coach Rod's Presser

Coach Rod on the mistakes made in the PSU game, on Illinois, on Dave Molk ... much more.

COACH RODRIGUEZ: To give you an injury update, David Molk unfortunately tore his ACL and will have surgery here as soon as he's available, swelling goes down, so he will be out for the rest of the season and for spring practice. If everything goes well in surgery, he should be fine for the summer. Martavious Odoms, did an MRI on his knee, it is not torn but it's swollen, so he's more day-to-day with that. Junior Hemingway's knee appears to be a bruise, so he will be day-to-day, as well. Brandon Minor still has some problems with the one ankle, but then on his other heel he has kind of a heel bruise on his other foot. So he'll be day-to-day, as well. So unfortunately for David, it was a non-contact injury and he was running well, it was just kind of planted funny or something on one of the run plays, and there it went. It's a loss, but we'll put David Moosman back at center like we did in that ballgame and move forward.

QUESTION: Is there a chance that his foot has anything to do with this, with the overcompensating?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, and we looked at it. He was running really well, and he was running really well all week in practice. I talked to him about it this morning, and he said it's crazy, it felt good, he was running good, and it's a game that sometimes those things happen unfortunately. But watching it, I don't know if it was just funny ... sometimes you plant a little bit funny or something, and there it goes.

QUESTION: How much do you think that really hurts your offense considering you guys seem to move the ball so much better with Molk in there?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, he's an outstanding player. There's no question, particularly he and Minor both, you're talking about two of our best offensive players. But our guys know whoever the next guy is, you put him in that spot and you move forward. That's a part of the game. I would like to sit here and tell you our depth is so good that you lose one or two guys that it doesn't have any impact, but always any coach will tell you, if you have any great players and you lose them to injury, it's going to have an impact. We can minimize that impact by another guy stepping in, whether it's running back or at center and playing well. And David Moosman has played well there, and he's capable of doing it, so we'll just move on. I just feel bad for David because he's had so much bad luck. He had one bad luck with the foot, and then he works hard to come back, and the very next game he has some more bad luck. It's just bad luck.

QUESTION: The fact that Moosman has played significant time at center, does that soften the blow maybe at all?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Sure. Yeah, you would be really nervous if you were putting a guy in that hadn't taken any reps there at all, but David being a veteran and has played there, and we'll continue to work him and Tim McAvoy and Rocko Khoury at center.

QUESTION: Because of the permanent nature of it, is there any desire to maybe have Rocko or Tim become the center and Moosman can stay?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We're going to practice them and give those other two quite a bit more reps this week. Again, they've not done it ...

QUESTION: Is it his right knee?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yes, his right. QUESTION: After looking at the film, can you pinpoint any more reason why things kind of snowballed in that game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You know, we were disappointed in our execution really in all three phases. But offensively and defensively we seemed to have a few more technical errors and missed assignments than normal, and that was ... you know, I thought the focus was really good during the week, and some of the technical errors, maybe some of the guys were trying to do too much, and sometimes that happens in a game. You get excited and you forget what your gap responsibility is or where your eyes are supposed to go on a read and those things. But it wasn't a very good performance obviously, but it's also ... we had turnovers that were things that were unforced. A couple of the turnovers they did a nice job stripping the ball, but maybe we weren't holding it as high and tight as we should have. Defensively, I think it was two games in a row we have not created any turnovers. If you want to win a game, particularly against a very good football team, you've got to be on the plus side of that. We were way on the minus side.

QUESTION: Obviously that's a big focus every week, but do you work on that more this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we're going to. As you mention, you do focus on it every week, but having a few of them and having it hurt you as much as it has, you pay more attention to it, and also the ones that maybe weren't turnovers but you see them holding it loose or not holding it high and tight, it's going to be a huge point of emphasis for us. I think the players, our guys are pretty conscientious. I think they'll be aware of it. But as coaches we'll make sure it's emphasized.

QUESTION: Turnovers particularly in Big Ten play have been a big issue for you guys. Is there one common theme? Is it really just being fundamentals on a lot of those?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, being more fundamentally sound, and then again, with the interceptions, some of it is inexperience, but some of it really is just trusting your reads and not panicking and letting the play play out, and if it's not there, not force the thing. I think sometimes you can get by with forcing some things. Young quarterbacks feel they can do it like in high school, you can force it in there, and in college it's a little different.

QUESTION: Where do you feel Denard's confidence is right now?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Denard is fine. I think he and Tate are actually confident guys. But I think any time you make a mistake, you take a blow to that, but we're not going to drop him in the grease, so to speak. We've got to coach him up. It may be a long way to go. I've said that all year, let's not put too much on them and say they're arrived, because there's a process at every position, but particularly at quarterback you have to go through to have truly been arrived. Coach Smith is working his tail off with them in the times we have them, but in college you don't have them that much. They are working hard in practice and they're learning, but every day it seems like we're taking some positive steps with that, but there's some days if we step backwards, and Saturday we stepped backwards a little bit. So we've got to teach off those moments and get that corrected and hopefully it won't happen again.

QUESTION: Do you feel maybe that Delaware State game gave too much confidence?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, not really. I think they realized that was a different opponent. Tate only played one series and Denard just played a few, and a lot of them were just handing the ball off. I don't think that game in particular ... I think the games on the road, the two Big Ten games on the road, were some valuable teaching moments, and this past game was, as well.

QUESTION: With the dropped balls that happened on Saturday, as a quarterback, is that something you expect?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: As a quarterback, you don't worry about it. The only thing is as a quarterback you can look at can I put the ball in an easier catchable position. A couple of the dropped balls our guys hadn't dropped all year. A couple of them could have been thrown a little better so it would have been an easier catch.

QUESTION: Not pertaining to any one play in particular, but is holding clearly enough defined? There are times where it looks like a pancake is called a hold and maybe some holds aren't called.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, that was the big point of emphasis the officials ... I don't know if we talked about it, they showed us a film or clips of holdings that weren't called in the past that would be called this year. And by the end of the clip there were three or four clips you're thinking, you've got to be kidding me. A guy falls down, a guy loses his balance or he's not as good an athlete and he gets pancaked and they're calling it holding. I may have seen more of it ... even though the officials may say the number of penalties are not that much different than it was in the past, I've seen more holding penalties for both teams that would have never been called in the past. Some of them I understand, when you twist and turn a guy, whatever. But if you've got your hands inside in great position, you're drive blocking a guy and he falls down, because, one, he loses his balance or something, I don't think it should be called holding. There is more of a gray area, and there's more frustration, I think, in seeing some of the calls. Most of the calls I can understand. Most of the calls against us. But there's been a few against us and probably the other teams would say the same thing, like geez, that's just a guy getting pancaked.

QUESTION: Kind of following on penalties, the five men in the backfield penalty, where is that coming from?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: That's really frustrating. You know, I think they generally warn you, and I think they warned us one time, and the one penalty we got called in this ballgame, from the angle we saw on film, we thought he was on the line of scrimmage. He had his head across the midpoint of center, which is what you're supposed to do. So the angle that we had, it looked like he was on the line, so that was a disappointing call. We'll turn it in to get another interpretation. Some of those calls, you know, you see the official on the opposing sideline, the one that calls it, and they're standing next to their coaches. We've had it called twice, and in both cases, we weren't sure ... we thought he was crossing the midpoint, but we'll get the official interpretation or whatever later on.

QUESTION: Are you going to turn in the pick two that Robinson threw? It looked like there were 12 men on the field, their last guy was getting off.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I didn't know it at the time, but after watching the film, their guy ... when the ball was snapped he was running off and he was within two or three yards, but he's still on the field. Generally that's always been called, even if he's running off, so it's a five-yard penalty, whatever. We'll see. There's nothing you can do about it now.

QUESTION: You said you've scripted the beginning of games before. Do you guys still do that? That seemed to have so much success on the first try.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: What we do is we script 10 to 12 plays, formations or things that we want to get early in the first series or two, and depending on down and distance, they get 3rd downs, you come off the script. But the execution was pretty good on the first drive. I don't remember exactly how many of the first ten were on the first drive scripted, but there was a number of them.

QUESTION: Not to go back to the five-men penalty, but is that just a product of the offense that you run, where you could get called for that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No. I mean, to me it's ... every offense has ... particularly the linemen in the two-point stance, whether it's pass or run, they have to cross the midpoint of center. I'm a little confused on that getting called. I know they got one once, and we warned the tacklers, too. They generally warn them and move up, and so they thought they did.

QUESTION: Illinois has got some talent, probably better than their record ...
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No question. QUESTION: Does that kind of get your guys' attention.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: They know. A lot of the same guys we played against last year. You watch them on film, they're a lot of talented guys. They've had some tough luck and some turnovers and things that have hurt them in key moments. But there's no question they're a very, very talented football team. For our guys to watch them on film, they know. When players watch another team on film, they know, geez, this guy can run, this guy can throw, those things.

QUESTION: You saw your share of Juice Williams last year, but do you see something different in him this year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, not really. There's been a couple of turnovers, and some of them they point at the quarterback and it's not always the quarterback's fault. He did it to us last year and he's done it to a lot of people, and he's a dangerous threat running the ball, too. It appears when they've put the other guys in there and then he's come back in the game, he's performed pretty well.

QUESTION: I know you can't speak specifically about recruiting, but do you feel whatever ails your team, whatever it may be, is going to be fixed in this year's recruiting class or is it already here and just needs developing?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: That's a good point. I think it's both. I think we've identified areas that we need fixed, and some of it is in some of our youth and guys on the team, and some of it is going to be addressed, not just in this recruiting class but the next recruiting class. You like to have two full recruiting classes address our needs, and we will certainly this year. We'll sign a full recruiting class this year, and next year we don't have a lot of seniors, but we'll still be able to address it. Our numbers are down. I looked at it the other day. I think original scholarship guys, it might have been 70 of 85. I think we've put some walk-ons on scholarship, so we have more than 70 on scholarship. But if you do the right job recruiting and evaluating and developing and all that, you won't have those numbers that low. I mean, you lose 15 and you sign 15, or you lose 18 and you sign 18. So that takes a little bit of time. I've said this several times; some of the issues and problems we have didn't occur overnight and they won't be solved overnight, but we've got to solve them, and as coaches we've got to do our job identifying them first and then solving them. I think recruiting is going well. We've seen, I think, things to be addressed in those areas, but there's still some important roles that have to be filled. When you talk about filling them with freshmen playing, that makes you a little nervous, but we'll be able to fix those in the next couple classes.

QUESTION: Are you okay with bringing in junior college players, or do you like four- or five-year guys?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, normally we'll have high school guys. There's good players in junior college and there's players that have succeeded in junior college, but the bigger issue for us with the junior college is a lot of the transferable credits won't transfer to the University of Michigan. And there's a lot of really good junior colleges. We kind of keep a little bit of an eye out there, but the hours having like classes or classes that are similar that will transfer to what our University accepts doesn't match most of what the curriculums are in the junior colleges, so that's a little bit more difficult.

QUESTION: As your younger players mature, especially on offense, where do you see the improvements coming like in the downfield passing game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, a lot of it is ... it starts with protection. We've got to be able to five- and six-man protect to be able to get the four guys or five guys downfield. The other part is with just our quarterbacks in their eyes and trusting protection, putting your eyes downfield, and then with our receivers, be able to get open. Everybody says, well, throw it to this guy, throw it to this guy. We taught our guys to throw it to who's open; if you're a wide out or a tight end or a running back, if you want to get the ball thrown to you, you get open. The routes that we call have something to do with that, too, but it's putting it all together. Usually the quarterbacks, I've said this many times, part of their maturation process is where their eyes go off the snap and where their eyes go after their first read. Are they able to scan half of the field. Most passing games are half-field reads, not all of them are full-field reads, but we have a few of them that are full-field reads. And you at least have to be able to scan and full-field read the coverage, both pre-snap and post-snap.

QUESTION: In the injuries, did you mention Warren? What's his status?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: He's okay. I think they've got him on here with just a little bit of a sore ankle, but he played with it.

QUESTION: From the collision with Junior, right?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: No, he had that going in. That collision was kind of an accidental screwy thing. He's trying to block the guy, and the guy pushed him a little bit in the back and kind of shoved him into Junior.

QUESTION: Looked like Craig Roh played well again on Saturday. Has his play surprised you?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it surprises me just a little bit because he's a true freshman playing a starting position that normally very rarely do you see a true freshman. Craig is an intense guy and he tries hard, but I think what's helped his success so early is he's so intelligent. He's a very, very intelligent player, and it's very important to him. The exciting part about him, he's ... whatever he weighs, 230 pounds and he's a true freshman playing, and he hasn't had a year-round weight program with us yet. He was very well-prepared coming out of high school. High school coaches did a great job with him. He's a try-hard guy. He's going to have a great future.

QUESTION: As far as the injuries, Hemingway, Odoms, those guys, are you expecting them to play this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Day-to-day. I think junior should be able to do quite a bit today. I think Odoms will be out today. I have not seen Tay walking around yet. I think it's more swollen and I think it's kind of day-to-day. It depends how he responds to treatment.

QUESTION: What specific things has Craig Roh improved upon from the first game until new?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I think probably most of the freshmen is by playing games you get experience on how teams are going to go attack you and how to defeat blocks and recognizing plays. I think things happen so much faster on a college level than a high school level, and the more experience you get, the better you're able to react to the speed of the game.

QUESTION: Are you happy with the way the defense has progressed?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: At times. At other times ... we seem to play pretty good defense at times, and then we give up a big play or two. Some of the big plays were them making a really good play and maybe us just not being as technically good as we can be. Our defensive coaches are doing all they can looking at every personnel grouping that we have, every scheme that we call and trying to get our guys in the best position to make plays. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but those other guys going after us are doing a good job, too. But we'll keep working hard at it. The attitude has been really good, and the effort has been good, and that's the first start of it. There are times where technically ... that will be a point of emphasis for us as coaches. We've got to do our jobs to make sure we're technically sound and doing the right things technique-wise to give ourselves a better chance.

QUESTION: It looked like there was some confusion on your defense's part. I don't know how much of that you saw on film.
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We didn't really have guys covering the wrong people or guys totally out of position, but there were a few technique things that if you've got B gap, you've got to be in B gap; if you've got C gap, you've got to be in C gap.

QUESTION: Stonum is still second in the Big Ten in kickoff returns but hasn't looked as much lately like he's almost ready to break one ...
COACH RODRIGUEZ: We haven't blocked as well. Our kickoff return has been average, very average the last several weeks. We haven't done as good a job blocking them.

QUESTION: John Conover obviously is a starter now. What is his scholarship status? Is he still a walk-on?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: I awarded the scholarships we had back earlier in August to upper classmen, but he certainly has earned one when we have one available. I even talked to him about it. His performance and what he's done, he's earned the right to be on scholarship. Once we have one available, he's the first one in.

QUESTION: The two punters Saturday, two of the best in the Big Ten, and it looked like your guy won that battle. Do you think he put that on himself, a little more extra incentive?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: You'll have to ask Zoltan about that, what motivates him. Hopefully what motivates Zoltan is to be the best punter he can for Michigan and to prove himself every time he goes out there. He's been very, very consistent, and he's an outstanding talent.

QUESTION: You mentioned that Illinois has more talent than maybe their number show. Is that something when a team has a lot of talent and they've been struggling that maybe you as a coach point out to your team even more and have a bit more concern because they're bound to have one game where maybe ...
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Oh, sure. I think our guys, not all of them but a lot of them, played against them last year in the game that they went up and down the field on us pretty easy, and a lot of the same players. So I don't think I have to remind our guys particularly defensively about Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn and all those guys. That's going to be an easy sell. Plus, we're at the point now, our guys, we've got to improve ourselves, and there's a lot of things we've got to work on starting with today's practice.

QUESTION: Just one other thing defensively. At what point do you maybe take a more heavy role with some of the issues that you have defensively? Do you still leave a lot of that up to your coaches?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Sure. I probably micromanage too much anyways. Offensively I'm obviously heavily involved and on special teams, but on defense I'll watch the film on occasion with them and we'll talk about it because I need to know what's going on because I think that's a head coach's role. But I trust our defensive coaches, and they've got a lot of experience, and it's all just a matter of just playing better and getting them in position as coaches to make plays and then hopefully the guys will do it.

QUESTION: Being a defensive player yourself, what made you an offensive mind as opposed to defensive?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Well, you're going back years, 20-some years. When I first was a head coach that one year at Salem, I stayed on defense. But when I took the second job at Glenville State, I figured the first question everybody asked about head coaching wise is offense, so let me go ahead and flip to the dark side. So I went over there, and then we started developing this offense and had so much fun with it, we stayed with that side.

QUESTION: How much does it help you, your defensive background?
COACH RODRIGUEZ: Early on I think it really helped because philosophically offensively when I decided to become a so-called offensive coach instead of a defensive coach ... I think a head coach is a head coach, but irregardless, when I did that, I thought, okay, as a defensive coach or a defensive player, what did I least like to see or like to defend? So we kind of built our offense based on some of those principles.

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