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Sam Webb: You mentioned working with Denard's mechanics. Did you have to do that with all the quarterbacks or did you focus more on it with Denard and Devin in particular?
Rod Smith: "Probably mechanic wise, more as far as tweaking and correcting things with Denard and Devin more so than we've had so with Tate. Tate has had some background and he was pretty tight in his mechanics anyway coming in. It was just a matter of us tweaking it once a while on things that we do. With Devin and Denard, there were some changes that we had to make and some things that we had to do with them fundamentally wise on both of them. I think both of them are both very conscientious and they made great strides in that fundamental part. Not only just there fundamentals but as far as picking up the offense as well, they both did a great job."
Sam Webb: You talked about the strides they made and picking up the offense… last year Rich often needing to also learn what the other team does… the reading coverage part of it. How much of that were they able to get in last year in their true freshman years and how much more of that were they able to gain during the course of the spring?
Rod Smith: "Well I think it is like anything that you've got to learn...first of all you got to learn the type of terminology that we use. How we call things. How we label things. So it is almost like learning a new language so to speak. You are learning French or Spanish for the first time. So you've got to learn those types of lingo. Then you've got to know what it means. What does cover-3 mean? What does cover-8 mean to those guys? Then after you do all that then you got to understand the responsibilities. Where are these defenders supposed to be? What is the strength of this defense? What are the weaknesses of this coverage? So all those things go into it and a lot of times that's a lot for a true freshman. I think they just touched the surface last year. To be honest they are just learning it (in college) and hopefully they are going to be better at reading coverages and making decisions a year later."
Sam Webb: You said earlier that Tate had some background technically and mechanically, but what about as far as reading coverages goes? Was there a gap there too that Denard sort of had to make up?
Rod Smith: "Tate did not really have to know a whole lot of coverage reading as far in as how we teach it and what not. It was new for him too. That was the first thing that he told me. He said, ‘coach I've never had to break down a coverage like this. I've never had to read things like I do now.' So that was new for him. I do not know if it was as much as Denard having to make up ground as much as both of them had a ways to go in terms of reading coverages and learning defenses."
For the rest of this interview with quarterbacks coach, Rod Smith, an in-depth preview of the Michigan offense, non-conference opponent previews, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine