Full Transcript: Coach Rod, Part One

The full transcript of Coach Rodriquez at the Big Ten Kickoff Roundtable yesterday. Part one: recruits who didn't qualify, kicking-punting, the corners, the safeties, Mike Martin and the D-line, ball security ... and much more.

Question: Rich can you update us on the kicking situation? Do you have any leads on what is going to happen there?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, check back with me in a week."

Question: From the spring, you tried a bunch of different guys did you not?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. That position battle in August really will start with Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen, Will Hagerup. We signed him as projected to possibly be the punter. I hope he can do the job. He is a talented guy. I'm nervous about it simply because none of them have done it. We had two seniors last year. I think we have the talent there. Brendan got better in the spring. He needed to get in shape a little bit and he did a nice job of that in the spring. I don't know how he did this summer, but I think he and Seth will battle that out. If not, then we will have some other guys on the team that will have a chance."

Question: Is Will a candidate to do both?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not field goals, but he may kick off. He did both in high school and we will give him a few reps and see what he can do. He has got a very, very strong leg and he is an outstanding athlete. The other part of the kicking game I feel more comfortable with, returners and people covering kicks and all that. The actual specialist, I think they got the talent to do it, just haven't been in a game yet."

Question: Do you anticipate maybe opening walk on tryouts again just for kicking to find one?

Coach Rodriguez: "We could. It really depends on what happens in August and what happens with the returning kickers. The walk-ons that we have that are coming back start when school starts. If we are still uncomfortable then, then we will have another tryout."

Question: Last year you were not exactly sure who is exactly going to be the field goal kicker.

Coach Rodriguez: "Last year was very similar with not being sure as far as field goals. We had Zoltan (Mesko), so we had that part taken care of. The snapping situation is good with Tommy Pomarico. We got good guys that can hold well. Jared Van Slyke may be the holder, he did a good job in the spring too until he was injured. We will have some things planned during camp to try and put some kickers under some pressure. It is never going to simulate 110,000 and all that, but we'll try to put them under some pressure."

Question: Did Gibbons ever have a chance of winning the job last year or was it (Jason) Olesnavage all the way?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah it was wide open competition and Jason just kind of won based on his performance in practice."

Question: Can you talk a little bit about Jeremy Gallon's role. Does he have a chance to slip into the backfield at all or is he mostly slot receiver?

Coach Rodriguez: "Mostly slot receiver simply because he is a young guy still learning. As he learns, he has a chance to maybe play in the backfield some, as does Terrence Robinson and Kelvin Grady. All three of those guys took a little bit of reps in the spring and depending on how they pick things up in August during camp, all three maybe get some reps at tailback too. I know Kelvin is really excited about it. He goes back to his high school days thinking about it. He's got a chance because he has got some skills."

Question: We all generalized and say this is an area of concern and this one is … which one do you lose the most sleep over right now? Is it the kicking or…?

Coach Rodriguez: "It is probably in the kicking game, particularly the field goals, and areas of depth defensively. Whether it is the defensive line or the secondary especially, those two areas, we are going to have a lot of depth probably by young guys or guys that haven't played. That makes you a little nervous because an injury here or there could really thrust a guy into a starting role or a significant role and he hasn't played before."

Question: Does that make Troy (Woolfolk) almost maybe your most indispensible player this season?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. Certainly at corner, we are very thin. JT Floyd had a good enough spring that we got some confidence in him, but we will have more bodies with the freshman coming in. True freshmen playing at any position, let alone corner, makes you nervous. This is going to be a very important camp for Coach Robinson and Coach Gibson to develop some guys at safety and corner that we can get ready to play with."

Question: With Troy, the fact that he has played both positions, does that make him even more of an asset?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably, but we are going to keep him strictly at corner, because he has played there and I think he has got his confidence playing there. You never say never, but I do think that some of our young corners, some of those freshmen, we have to get ready to play just in case."

Question: Who is that? Cullen Christian?

Coach Rodriguez: "Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery are two of the young guys."

Question: Based on your visits and the film you've seem of them in high school, does it seem like there is a level of skill there that they can make an adjustment?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah but I'd really…obviously we signed them with the thought and expectation that they can play; how soon I do not know … but until they practice, you really do not know. It is like three of the safeties, the young kids, (Ray) Vinopal, Carvin Johnson and Marvin Robinson, all three of those guys are really good football players, smart guys that have a chance to contribute, but until we practice in pads a few times and put them in live situations and scrimmages you really do not know."

Question: You talked a lot about your quarterbacks being better with ball security; how much of that is the decision process when to do, what to do and what not to do?

Coach Rodriguez: "Certainly, I think you play fast and probably play more fundamentally sound when you're not thinking as much. Some of the indecisiveness I guess was to be expected because they are young guys, but I thought they did a good job in the spring to eliminate that. We were live all spring except for the spring game and they really did a good job of taking care of the ball. The problem in August is that we want to go live, but we don't want to beat our quarterbacks up. So we're playing that balance of getting them ready and getting confident that we can secure the ball, and not tackling them too much to the ground. We'll play that around a little bit. But it is such a point of emphasis all the time, but even more so now. We'll talk about it every day all day until they get it, with everybody that handles the ball."

Question: Going back to the defensive back situation, (Demar) Dorsey, you offer him a scholarship and he is not coming, did that hurt you in terms of you could have used the scholarship for another DB or were you just going to eat it and save it?

Coach Rodriguez: "No, our numbers…you have certain numbers, scholarships, so our numbers secondary wise are about where you would have it. It is young, you don't want to have as many young guys in that position, but we will be able to sign another guy for this year's class. This year's class is so small senior wise that we needed more scholarships anyways, so with a couple of guys not qualifying, we were able to use that and recruit for this year's class. We'll sign a couple of secondary guys for this year's class ,and our numbers next year will be better than this year as far as the balance and all that. By the time we get to the fifth year, it will be pretty close to the mark."

Question: Just to clarify, of the guys that you signed, Dorsey and (Antonio) Kinnard will not be coming?

Coach Rodriguez: "Right. Dorsey, I think, went to Louisville. Kinnard, we believe is going to prep school."

Question: Any chance that he makes his way to Michigan at some point?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know, we'll see. We'll see where he is at academically and what his performance is that he does there."

Question: Is it the same situation with Cornelius Jones?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes same thing."

Question: He won't be at camp?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he won't be here … Cornelius Jones, those three."

Question : With the senior class being so small, is there a way to foster leadership and was that one of the things you talked about at your house, I assume?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. There are different forms of leadership. Sometimes there is quiet leadership, which is fine, and sometimes there is vocal leadership. We talked, I talked with the seniors last week about that. The leadership during practice is always important, but the coach is around to do that. You need it really when coaches aren't around, in the locker room, during game time, off campus … and I think we have enough, even though it is a small senior class, we have enough guys in that class that they'll be vocal and kind of take ownership more so than the last couple of years. I had BG (Brandon Graham) last year and he was a great leader and Zoltan Mesko, but we have Mark (Moundros) and Steve Schilling and Troy; those guys have been around us another whole year, as far as coaches, and they really kind of know what we need and what is expected. I think they will do a great job."

Question: How do you deal with agents? Obviously, that has been such a big issue in the past three months or so?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, I prefer our guys don't deal with them (laughter). Honestly, until their last game and finished. I know it is a hot button issue and we need to do all we can to educate them, which I think we do. Our players got to understand the process and how selfish it is to take something before their eligibility is up, and not only do you have to educate them but their families as well. That is always an issue, to make sure that their families and extended families understand that they cannot do anything against the rules."

Question: You are obviously more interested in what's on the field, but are you excited about the stadium redo and having that finished for this year?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. I'll tell you what. I've been there several times this summer and a lot of our players have not seen it since the spring, and so we're going to go over there a couple of times in August, and they're really excited about it. The look is fantastic, but I think it will add something tot the atmosphere. I'm anxious, I have not seen the new turf yet. So I am anxious to see the new turf and we'll probably scrimmage over there a couple of times in August to get used to it, and it should look pretty nice."

Question: This may sound like a silly question but does new turf sometimes screw with things a little bit because it is supposed to all be the same but it is not really?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah but there is a process and if you get some rain and some play on it, you can kind of get, I do not want to say worn down, but prepared more-so. When the turf is first laid out, it is a little softer than normal than it would be. That is one reason we want to go over it a couple of times. It sounds kind of crazy but we've watered turf fields down. Because if you have not gotten an extended amount of rain to make sure that the pebbles get settled and all that. When I've done it in the past, people look like this guy must be crazy. What are you watering a turf field. He has lost his marbles."

Question: Where did you do that?

Coach Rodriguez: "At West Virginia. We even looked at doing it when we got the new turf on our practice field at Michigan, but we got a nice rainstorm the night before I was planning on doing it. So we'll see what the rains are like in August before we do it."

Question: I know you've always said before sometimes you like weather because you can…are you hoping that it rains all August then?

Coach Rodriguez: "No I hope it does not. I like to get two practices that we kind of got to get used to the wet balls and go out there and do that, but other than that I hope it is warm, really warm, mid 90s, humid and all that to test them a little bit. I think our guys can handle it and I want to find out."

Question: Do you think this…you have talked about more experience and you've talked about a little bit more depth, is this going to be maybe the best show teams type of situation that you think you've had since you've been here as well?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think so. It is still…school does not start until after the first game, so you are still limited to the 105 guys and when school starts you can have another 12 to 15 guys that can come on and help a little bit with that. We have to do a good job of servicing each other because what we do offensively is a little bit unique and we don't do what UCONN does offensively, so we've got to get some ‘good on good' and some of our good offensively has to do some UCONN stuff during the month of August. We've got a plan for that."

Question: Have you guys looked at much tape on UCONN yet or is that something you will wait for football camp?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah we look at some in the spring and then an extensive scouting report in the summer."

Question: Rich before the spring you singled out a couple of players offensively and defensively that you said athletically they are really talented want to see them step up. On offense, you talked about Mike Cox and defense you talked about Adam Patterson, where are those guys headed into the fall?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well if they pick up where we left them in the spring, I think we'll be in good shape. The guys like (Renaldo) Sagesse and Greg Banks and Adam Patterson, there are three senior defensive lineman that have been contributors but not as much in the role that we think they have to be this year. In talking to them last week, they feel great. I saw Mike Cox the other day, he looks good. We need him and Fitzgerald Toussaint to be guys who kind of step up in the running back position, and Vince Smith, who I think is going to be recovered from his knee injury. So we're going to have some pretty interesting competition. There are a lot of positions as well…you always say that all positions are open but in reality, there is more competition at more positions than there has been in the last three years for us."

Question: Patterson is he a defensive end or a nose; where is he lining up?

Coach Rodriguez: "Both. Yep, we want him to learn all the defensive line positions. I think he is smart enough he can do that."

Question: What about Big Will Campbell?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well he got a lot of reps in the spring with Mike Martin out and I thought he got better, but he has got some things to work on, but he is a big strong guy. Again, depending on what kind of shape he is in when we start will determine how quickly he can battle for that job. But if he is in great shape when we start, then he will be right in the mix, if not then he will struggle until he gets in shape."

Question: How is Mike Martin?

Coach Rodriguez: "Mike is doing well. He is 100% healed from his surgery and he's probably critical to our success defensively as anybody on that side of the ball."

Question: As far as Campbell, is it kind of big learning curve for him coming in, obviously a five star guy, on the defensive line, really big and just kind of known for just plowing guys over in high school. Is it just kind of a bigger learning curve?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I think learning the technique. I think sometimes when you are that big and strong in high school you can get by just overpowering people. Then you get to this level and it is a little different, you better have some technique, you'd better be able to play low and behind your pads and I think that is the learning curve that he is going through and he is going to continue to go through. He is going to continue to go through. Bruce Tall will do a great job of teaching him, but Will has got to put the work in and we'll see where he is at."

Question: You said Martin is very critical but what is it that maybe he brings that other guys on the line don't, like a (Ryan) Van Bergen or someone like that makes you say that?

Coach Rodriguez: "Mike's probably the most explosive powerful big man in our program. He's as strong as an ox and he's got a great first step. He uses his hands well. We're a different team when he's fresh and he's in there and 100% healthy. We are a completely different defense."

Question: Did you feel like maybe he wasn't healthy towards the second half of the year?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he was banged up a little bit, I think his shoulder. He is a tough guy and there wasn't really much that we could do, but his shoulder was probably bothering him more than he let on, so that is when we made the decision to go ahead and get it fixed. Might as well and miss the spring and have you back better in the fall. It probably worked out best for him to do that."

Question: When did you maybe start to notice that? Was that something that you could even tell in practice weeks?

Coach Rodriguez: "You could see it a little bit towards the end of the year. He got wore down a little bit and we tried to rest him during the week in practice and even some series during the games, but you probably noticed that there were some times when he came off the field and he was grabbing his shoulder a little bit. I'm excited and I'm sure he is excited about being 100% healthy."


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