Full Transcript: Coach Rod, Part Two

The full transcript of Coach Rodriquez at the Big Ten Kickoff Roundtable yesterday. Part Two: ball security, the offensive line, Mark Moundros and Obi Ezeh, and more.

Question: Was it kind of an accepted fact last year after those first four games that Tate (Forcier) was a little banged up and does that kind of play into your decision this year maybe looking back at those late season films in maybe deciding who is going to start this year that he was a little banged up?

Coach Rodriguez: "A little bit as far as banged up, but we had too many turnovers and that is why it was a point of emphasis with Tate and Denard (Robinson) in the spring. Tate was a true freshman that weighed 175 pounds. He is a little bit bigger now, as is Denard. So he'll be able to take a little bit of that pounding. But some of it too, you'll get less pounding as you get more experience, because you know where to go with the ball quicker. You'll be more decisive and you won't take the hits necessary plus if you are a little faster maybe you can run away from them. I'm anxious to see those two and Devin Gardner too, who has not played yet but is ultra competitive and is eager to learn, so he will be in the mix as well."

Question: How much do you need to see from him (Tate) with his maturity?

Coach Rodriguez: "Quite a bit. It is a maturity thing not only from the on field but how he carries himself off the field. That is for all of our players, but especially at quarterback because there are so many eyes on you. He understands that and I think he is eager to prove that. I think the competition between those guys in August is going to be healthy for all of them."

Question: Did you see him grow in that at all in the summer?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not in the summer. I can't watch him."

Question: I do not mean on the field but just in conversation and reports that you might get back?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I've talked to him a couple of times this summer. I saw it in the spring with he and Denard especially. More level of confidence in what they are doing and what we expected. August is going to be critical. I'm going to put as much as we can, pressure on the guys in August, try to put them in pressure situations and practices to see how they perform and so the team can get confidence in them and they can get confidence in themselves."

Question: Coach, touching on that, when you were talking yesterday that the offensive line is going to be a lot better up front; what do you think that is going to do confidence wise as far as you're young quarterbacks come in with your backfield as well?

Coach Rodriguez: "We certainly feel that we will be deeper up front than we have been in the last couple of years with guys that have some experience and then the three guys that we redshirted last year with (Michael) Schofeild, (Taylor) Lewan and (Quinton) Washington, all got a chance to compete. As far as the quarterbacks confidence level, if we can run the football better and not put ourselves in second and third and longs. Part of that too is the quarterback not having the negative yardage plays and us avoiding the negative yardage plays. The two biggest points of emphasis for us this spring offensively in our execution was no negative yardage plays and no turnovers. You will win 100% of the games, not 99.9%, but if you have no negative yardage plays and no turnovers, you win 100% of the time. That's hard to do. I don't know if anybody has ever had a game with no negative yardage plays, no penalties or nothing like that but that's the goal. That's the end goal."

Question: From last year as far as the offensive line in how much they have developed and what not, as far as what you had in questions last year, are you mostly excited or is one of the most excited thing is how much these guys are going to mature this season?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I think they are growing up. Some of the guys have been playing as 18, 19-year-old boys and they growing up to be 20-year-old men. We have got a good group of seniors that help up front led by Schilling and David Molk is healthy, which is a big key for us because we think he is an outstanding player. We've got some more depth, if something happens to a guy, we put somebody in that has got a little bit of experience anyway."

Question: How much did that hurt you last year; because obviously you lost Molk and then you had to move (David) Moosman around…?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, and Moose did a nice job. I think he is a better guard; he is more natural at guard than center. He did a really good job when he went in there at center. It probably weakened two spots by doing that. Having David healthy and Rocko Khoury, I thought did a really good job this spring. So he has been in the program a couple of years now. So we have a lot of confidence in Rocko. Hopefully nothing will happen to David or any of the rest of the guys; but if they do, we have got more guys in play."

Question: You kind of touched on it yesterday but how anxious are you just ready for next weekend to be done (meeting the NCAA committee in Seattle)?

Coach Rodriguez: "Everybody is anxious that for that process to be over. It is not something that anybody wants to go through, but we'll keep….the players and the rest of the staff are finished with it and I will be finished with that deal next Saturday. We've made some adjustment in our schedule so we can get through that."

Question: How much have you talked to the players or have in the past about just trying not to pay attention to it, because it is something that is always around, at least from an external point of view?

Coach Rodriguez: "Whether it is, that or anything else. We try to stay tunnel-visioned in what we can control and I think the players have done a good job of that. It is easier when camp starts because they are just trying to get through the next practice and get better every day. I think our players are very, very focused. I know our staff is. We won't let anything. We've been through enough adversity now, we won't let anything distract us."

Question: As far as recruiting goes, when you're sitting down with players and their families, are you hearing more about maybe concerns about that they have with NCAA violations or are you hearing more about the record the last two years?

Coach Rodriguez: "You hear a little bit of that. The reality is that a lot of them come and we talk about Michigan and all the positive things, the educational part, the community, the program, the styles, the systems. Those are things that we talk about the most. I think recruiting is going very well. We're as excited about recruiting, as we have ever been and even though it might not be a big class because our numbers are small, I think it is going to be a great class. I really do."

Question: With how much smaller the class does that sort of let you hone in on certain guys that maybe you wanted more than others?

Coach Rodriguez: "Sure. Our pool that we've extended offers is a lot smaller and it has to be. Because we are going to sign a lot less guys, but the importance is the quality, the quality of the student-athlete that we are recruiting and I'm really excited about that."

Question: Coach you were talking yesterday about Mark (Moundros) going to the linebacker position and it being his idea; how much of an opportunity do you think he has to be a difference maker in your linebacker corps?

Coach Rodriguez: "He may be the starter."

Question: Really?

Coach Rodriguez: "He is battling right there with Obi Ezeh and the rest of the guys to be the starting MIKE linebacker and that was just in 15 practices in the spring. We got 29 in August, so he has got a certain intensity. He's a better athlete than he would tell you. He'll tell you that he is just a walk-on and whatever, but he's a good athlete and a tough guy and he works his tail off. I think going over, and this was really his idea to move over there, he has given us a certain type of leadership that we lacked defensively or needed defensively with this year's team, and I think Mark will provide that."

Question: Do you think that will be a problem this being his first year being a linebacker; do you think the other guys are going to respect him right away in that role?

Coach Rodriguez: "We do not ask the other guys their opinion anyway. They don't care who lines up next to them as long as they play hard and play well. Mark has a lot of credibility on our football team from all the players and if you ask them, name the toughest guy on your team, Mark Moundros will come right up."

Question: Getting back to recruiting for a second; do you want to take a quarterback every year at this point still?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. We'll recruit a quarterback every year."

Question: Does it kind of light a fire in a guy like Obi who has obviously been here for a while when he sees a guy like Moundros come in and, like you said, after 15 practices he could start, does that kind of light a fire a guy who is a veteran guy that has been around like that?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. That's not our intent but if it does, it does. We want competition in every position. Nobody is entitled to a starting job, and I think they understand that, even if you played the year before. Now is it going to beat out a Steve Schilling or a David Molk, year, and it would be hard to beat out Mike Martin, but they are not entitled to that job, they have got to earn it. I think that competition that you foster at every position is very, very healthy and not only for the team but for the program."

Question: Is there any reason why you or any other coaches see that Obi may have struggled a little bit more last year, was it may be the system or was he just to not used to it?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. Obi did not play as well. We talked about it a little bit, Obi and I. Toward the end of the year, there was some frustration that set in with him whether it was the style that he was going against that hurt him a little bit, but Obi has got a lot of pride and he'll work hard. But frankly we need to provide him with competition just like we did at other positions. I hope that he responds to it. I think he did in the spring. He is going to have to it again in August."

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