Full Transcript: Coach Rod, Part Four

The full transcript of Coach Rodriquez at the Big Ten Kickoff Roundtable yesterday. Part Four: Vincent Smith's status, depth, Denard, Woolfolk, Omameh, Roundtree, team conditioning, and more.



Question: You mentioned Vincent Smith being close to 100%, will you throw him right into contact in two a days?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. From talking to the trainers, there should be no restrictions at all from day one."

Question: Are you kind of anxious to see how he is going to respond to that first hit?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. Because sometimes, particularly coming off a knee, they are a little hesitant early. So you have to kind of throw them back in there as quick as you can, but knowing Vincent I think he'll be able to handle it okay."

Question: You have a bunch of big rivalry games and I understand that the most important game is the one that you have coming up next, but is there a particular team, a particular coach that you get the most fired up or most excited to coach against?

Coach Rodriguez: "I would never give out one single guy. But if you're at Michigan and you don't understand the Ohio State rivalry, you've been living in a cage somewhere. That one, you don't even have to coach or play at Michigan or follow both programs to understand that one. Then we have the state championship game with Michigan State. Those are two great rivalries, very intense. You think about it quite a bit. You do a little bit more work with them in the offseason as than you do your other opponents, and they happen to be both league foes. There are a lot rivalries throughout the country but sometimes they are not in the same league; ours are in the same league."

Question: So are you ranking the Notre Dame rivalry not as intense as that?

Coach Rodriguez: "It is just not in the league. It is the same intensity. For us, we got the three natural rivalries including Notre Dame, but Notre Dame is not a league game. A league game adds more kind of guess tension from that standpoint because our first goal every year is to win the Big Ten Championship. I think no matter where you are, no matter what level you coach at, if you are in a league, you probably put that as your first goal, to win a league championship. If you are short of that it is a disappointment."

Question: How much advance scouting do you do for an opponent in the offseason?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well, we'll do some in the spring and we'll have certain practices that maybe isn't devoted to one team but with them in mind as far as some of the things that you do in the practice. Then the coaches do quite a bit in the summer, in May and June. They'll do their scouting reports, watch the film, discuss some of your…usually all your league opponents, especially your rivalries."

Question: Is that different than maybe how you did it at West Virginia or maybe more attention?

Coach Rodriguez: "No it is the same. You normally have…we probably have a little bit more as far as natural rivalries at Michigan than other schools do, so you pay a little attention. Right now, my main focus is on us, Michigan, for the next two weeks. Then halfway through camp it will be on UCONN, and then after that is the next game."

Question: How is Perry Dorrestein's back?

Coach Rodriguez: "He has still had problems this summer with that. When I saw Perry last week, he said he was fine, he was feeling good. He actually said it feels better after he works out than if he goes for a few days. If he goes a weekend or something and does not do anything, it tightens up on him again. He said he feels really good and he looks good."

Question: Last year during camp, you said you were maybe one injury away in certain positions from having to move guys in camp, do you think you are going to have to…do you anticipate that that would have to come even close to happening this year, or do you feel that depth is at a better point?

Coach Rodriguez: "I hope not. There are still a couple of positions that we really get nervous about. So you play that balance and you've got to get guys ready to play but you don't want to beat them up in camp. We're not quite as deep, especially experience wise, as what we need to be, but we are going to be a deeper team than we were last year certainly."

Question: Beside maybe the secondary where we've talked about a lot…?

Coach Rodriguez: "Defensive line, at receiver, outside receiver. We're not as deep there especially experience-wise. We got to get the veterans ready to play too."

Question: You've called Denard kind've like an X-factor guy. I know Mark Dantonio called Keith Nichol an X-factor guy. Does that seem to be a trend that a lot of Big Ten coaches are going towards, maybe that one guy that you always want on the field that you really want to get him the ball in his hands and he can kind've make plays."

Coach Rodriguez: "Well Denard might be the starting quarterback, so he will be on the field quite a bit if that is the case. If he is not, then we've talked about him being too good of athlete to be standing next to me 70% of the time. If you know the quarterback position, you can play all the skill positions offensively, so he is getting closer to that. He is battling for the starting job, and Tate and Devin are right there with him."

Question: You talked yesterday about what you've learned the last couple of years, that you learned a lot the last couple of years. What has been the biggest thing that you've had to learn the hard, but you had to learn the hard way?

Coach Rodriguez: "I do not know if it is one particular thing. I do not want to get into all the details but I think you learn something every year. This is my 26th year or something in coaching, and I think I've learned something every year. The last two years, there have been things that I've learned that probably are not on-field football related. That as a coach and as a staff that we've learned. I think that is part of it. I think going forward we will be better because of it."

Question: Can you talk about Troy and his versatility between cornerback and safety and what you are looking at this year?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. I think he likes corner. That is his position … and I guess we could move him in a pinch. I really like the fact that we've got him at a spot that he is comfortable at, he has a physical preference out there and he'll give us some leadership in the secondary. That is a position as a whole that we do not have a lot of experience, especially depth wise, so the guys like Troy that have some, have got to play at a high level and help the other guys."

Question: Troy was talking about last year that he was getting a little confused when you were switching him from cornerback and safety and what he was actually supposed to cover; do you think that was a mistake switching him back and forth or are you glad that you gave him that versatility?

Coach Rodriguez: "He was probably confused telling you that he was confused (laughter). Troy doesn't get confused easily and I shouldn't say that. Some of the moves defensively we were making were just trying to get the best 11 out there, and I think getting Troy back to one position where he gets settled, I think has helped him."

Question: What is Patrick Omameh's ceiling?

Coach Rodriguez: "I do not know. He is kind of neat story. The guy came in at 250 pounds and he played at 270 pounds, and now I think he is over 290 something. He works so hard. He is a tremendous worker. He and Steve Schilling, David Molk, all those offensive linemen take a lot of pride in how they work. I thought moving Patrick to guard was a really good move for him, but he had to get bigger. He has played really well at the end of last year and I think he should have an outstanding year. He looked great in spring practice. If he continues to progress on the track that he is in, I think that he could be an all Big Ten player."

Question: Is Roy Roundtree a guy that can play both receiver spots I think at this point? Is he maybe the guy that would be the first one to move?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes and he will. I think Roy knows all the receiving positions, all four of them. So there may be times that he plays all four of them this year and I think he is excited about that. We are also going to play Tay Odoms. Tay Odoms has been in the program, this will be his third year and he will play multiple positions as well out there."

Question: It really seems like Tate and him (Roy) really had a rapport going at the end of the season. Him knowing all four of those positions and you guys maybe getting deeper at wide receiver, does that kind of help him maybe become that #1 guy, that home-run threat that everyone is looking for?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well he was the leading receiver at the end of the year and he did that because of his production. He finished up with another strong spring. Some of the guys are natural as far as understanding concepts, and they get in the game and they understand coverages and where to go with routes -- and Roy is one of those guys that the game kind of comes naturally to him. He had to get bigger, which he is … he was maybe 145 pounds. I think he was a flyweight when we signed him. He has moved up to the welterweight class whatever that is. He has really gotten bigger. He did a great job in the offseason. I am anxious to see Roy, and being able to move him around a little bit because he has got a lot of things and intangibles that he brings here."

Coach Rodriguez: "Overall where you pleased with the conditioning of all the guys in the reports that you heard from this summer?

Coach Rodriguez: "I will tell you in a week. We can find out in the first week of practice of who is really in shape and ready to play and the guys that aren't .I'm hoping that they have the attitude to get in shape. I would be surprised if the majority of the team is not in great shape when we start on the 9th."

Question: How is the feeling just entering the season different this year than the previous two?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think everybody knows each other better. It is still just the third year. It is not like we've been together an extended period of time. But it is more than two years and certainly more than one year. I think there is a certain confidence level with guys that have played, that have been in the system, that we'll be able to execute better there. I think the team has gotten and will continue to get closer and closer together. When you face a lot of adversity you can do one or two things, you can spread apart of you can get closer together and I think our guys have chosen to come closer together."

Question: How many years does a coach need before it is fair to evaluate and impact his program has on a university?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably anywhere between 11 and 12 (laughter). I'll just tell you what I think."

Question: Has it accelerated over the years? Obviously you've got all these mega conferences and all the money that is taken in; has the number of years that it is fair to evaluate a coach changed?

Coach Rodriguez: "It probably has gotten closer in college to what seems like the NFL model, because of the pay. That's part of the deal and you kind of expect that. That's a fair question, but every situation is different and depends on the situation that the coach goes into, or what happens while he was there, or how the game has broken down, if there are injuries or whatever. There are all kinds of different reasons to look at that. Typically most coaches say give me a full five years until he has his guys that he has recruited, that were developed into the program, so on and so forth. Like I said, there are too many factors just to pigeon hole it into one thing. As a coach we all like to say … give us the time. Give us time to show what we can do."

Question: Do you think fans and alumni kind of look at it that way. Like you said, you've had some adversity, you had injuries last year. Do you think they look at it and say, okay if this team wouldn't have had injuries they would have been a bowl eligible team, or do they kind of just look at the record and say either way we did not win enough?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think it is both. I mean some look at the situation in depth and some just look at the record. That is just life, the way it is. We look at everything as coaches because that's our job."

Question: Will some naturally look at the money too? You said it is like the NFL model and because of the money that coaches are making obviously the expectations or the demands are probably going to be a little harsher?

Coach Rodriguez: "Sure that is part of that. I mean it is unbelievable what you get paid now for coaching. I can speak for myself, but you didn't get into the profession for the money. I made 250 dollars a month my first college coaching job. You don't get in it for the money, but I'm glad it is there, for sure. But it is not like you're going to coach any harder…I'm not coaching harder now than I was when I was making 2500 dollars a year. You still coach as hard as you can if you love the game and you've got a passion for it. It is not like, aw they're going to pay me an X amount of money, so I'll coach harder. I think everybody is going to coach hard no matter what if you love the game."


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