Full Transcript: Coach Rod talks

Full Transcript: Coach Rod talks about who's in shape, about injuries, which freshmen might play this fall, about the new captain's set-up, about Tate-n-Troy, about the running backs ... more.

Question: You haven't been waiting to see these guys for a long time, anything strike you just immediately seeing them?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think we're in pretty good shape. I think there are quite a few guys in very good shape. I think there are a handful guys that are in okay shape and a small handful of guys that aren't ready to play division one football. Our goals and expectations are to get everybody up to the top level. We've got a few weeks to do that. If they do not do that then they will not have the opportunity to wear the Winged Helmet come September 4th."

Question: Anyone that is an impact player that you are concerned about their conditioning?

Coach Rodriguez: "If there was I would never tell you. I don't know if anybody could be impact player, and start camp, and not be ready to play. I don't know if that is ever going to the case. I do think that judging on today's practice that it wasn't as taxing weather wise as you would probably like or I would probably like. The players probably enjoyed it, but it was kind of cool and rainy at the beginning and then it got a little…the sun came out at the end, but they got through it pretty well. We ran a conditioning test at the end of practice to test some of them but they performed pretty well. We've got a long way to go as any coach in America would tell you. There is a handful of guys that are not ready to play football at this level and I'm hoping that they'll get themselves in shape, if not, then again they won't wear the Winged Helmet. We got enough to win with."

Question: Are they freshman or are they guys that you thought would come back and be.

Coach Rodriguez: "That's the end of that story. The only thing I'll tell you about the freshman is that our expectations for freshman and probably any coach will tell you that with their first session at this level is not going to ever be very high from a standpoint of being ready physically whether you are in shape or not. All of our freshman came here for summer school and got in early, but I don't look at them the same I would as an upper classman or somebody who has been in the program for a couple of years."

Question: On the flipside of that, the fans get their first roster update and they're oohhing and ahhing about weights. Did anyone come in and catch your eye as to really taking it to another conditioning wise?

Coach Rodriguez: "Just looking, the first guys you look at naturally are the big guys up front and just judging the way they moved around today and looking at the size of them. Our offensive and defensive linemen look pretty good. What are looks worth? They look good. They look like they had a good summer. They looked like they are in pretty good shape. Again, this was not a practice that was real taxing from the standpoint of weather. There are obviously no pads, but I like the way we looked physically up front. I've said this a few times and probably to you all, our young guys and O-line look like they are growing up some. They have gained a little bit of weight, gained a little bit of strength and some of them are actually shaving now for the first time so that is a good thing. I think we are growing up a little bit in some respects. I think we'll be a deeper team up front on both sides of the ball just judging on appearance. We got a long way to go before we play a game."

Question: When is the first practice with pads?

Coach Rodriguez: "Friday morning is the first full contact practice and Sunday will be the first two a day."

Question: Can you tell yet or do you know yet what the strength of this team might be?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not yet. I think it is too early to tell. Today we probably did too much scheme wise. I think we coaches get a little bit too ambitious, so when I go back with the staff, I'm going to back them off a little bit and say okay. As our guys continue the third year in the offense and a second year with the defensive staff. I think sometimes you tend to do too much the first day the first day and we probably did, so I am going to make them back off tomorrow. I think we have the ability to be a faster team than we were last year, but when you're thinking too much and today at times we were thinking too much, we didn't practice as fast, as I think we will a week for now, but I think we can be a pretty fast team."

Question: Which quarterback took the first snaps?

Coach Rodriguez: "It's a secret. They all took snaps. We had four quarterbacks and four centers lined up and they all took the first snap together. I don't remember who exactly took it during team because we rolled them in and out. All three guys are competing. Denard (Robinson), Tate (Foricer) and Devin (Gardner), you can obviously see that Tate and Denard have some experience with the offense because things are smoother for them. Devin is a real, real competitive guy and he looks in great shape. It is going to be fun to watch them. The hard part for us is to limit their contact because we don't want them to get beat up in August, yet we still got to get them ready to play. So we got to balance that throughout camp."

Question: You said that you would put the challenge to Tate to respond to this challenge for the job. Players indicated that he was not maybe as committed to some of the offseason workouts, is that a red flag to you? What has he said about that and how concerned are you about that?

Coach Rodriguez: "First off, I don't ask his opinion. I'm glad that our seniors are taking some ownership and leadership in this team. They want everybody to work as hard as they have or they are going to and I don't blame them for that. Tate knows he has got a lot of work to do to prove himself and not just on the field but off the field and I think he is a very competitive guy and he is willing to do that. The rest of that stuff is all internal. Our guys, we got a pretty close team and we'll get even closer the next few weeks."

Question: You said that he is willing to do it but has he done it so far has Tate?

Coach Rodriguez: "Are you talking about today?"

Question: Can you tell leading up today?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't watch summer workouts. Again, it is hard to judge practice because there was nothing live. I thought he had a pretty good practice today, just judged on what today was. I thought Denard had some good things and so did Devin. It is going to be an interesting battle and I'm interested in seeing how they guys respond to the challenge and Tate is just one guy that has to respond to it. Everybody talks about it as quarterbacks, but I prefer to talk about groups."

Question: The guys that had that injury, are they all back into practice?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah everybody, as we thought everybody that was injured in the spring is back except Will Heininger. Vincent Smith, Mike Martin, David Molk, all those guys were 100% today. No restrictions."

Question: Did Vincent look like he was…did he move okay?

Coach Rodriguez: "He did and that's a concern when a guy comes off a knee (injury), especially a skill guy, does he favor it a little bit, but he didn't look like he was favoring it at all."

Question: How is Will Campbell's condition?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think okay. Again, I don't want to get into individuals. I know everybody wants to talk about individual, but I want to talk about a team or a group. I know that is against everything…it's not as flashy to talk about a group. It is more flashy to talk about one guy here and one guy there. I know that's what you all folks like to do, but we're trying to stress the team."

Question: Mike Shaw, he is on the roster has he cleared?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. They are still in summer school. I apologize for you all having to wait so long because we still have a large number of players in summer school all this week and even a couple of days next week. So we've had to adjust our schedule around to try and get everybody at practice. We had a couple of guys miss parts of practice today and probably again tomorrow. That's why our schedule is kind of off and we're practicing so late, but another week and a half of summer school and then we're done with that."

Question: Are there multiple players that are not practicing?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. There are a couple of upper classman today. All of the freshman have afternoon classes, so they are missing some meetings and some things with their coaches, but they'll get that caught back up."

Question: Mike was one of them that missed today?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. He was in a class or a tutoring session."

Question: What's the best part about the first day of practice and how good did it feel to just get on the field today?

Coach Rodriguez: "Without question, the best part is the coaches being able to work with the guys and interact and talk football and do all the things that we love doing. I've probably said a bunch of times, you ask any coach our favorite time and it is on the field with our players or in the meeting rooms with our players and talking ball and teaching and watching them learn and grow and I've got a bunch of good teachers. Well I'm really pleased just based on one day is that we've really got a lot of guys that are eager to learn. Now I think every coach will tell you that, but I really think our guys are sincere in that. They are sitting at the edge of their seat and they're eager to learn; on both sides of the ball. That's the first step to having success."

Question: As a group, can you compare what you have to work with now compared to a year ago or two years ago in general terms or otherwise?

Coach Rodriguez: "It might be a little early to compare. I think give me two weeks to see where we're at physically with some of our young guys that haven't played before, but I think we probably have more guys that will have more opportunity to contribute than the last couple of years on both sides of the ball, certainly defensively. We're going to have a lot more guys defensively, I think they can contribute when we need that, but I think offensively we will have more skilled players and we'll be deeper on the O-line, obviously, a little more experienced quarterback. I feel comfortable saying that we have more players that I think will be ready to play on the September 4th, than we've had in the last couple of years."

Question: What do you like about this offensive line and potentially (Steve) Schilling's role as a leader?

Coach Rodriguez: "Beside the depth, I think we're bigger and stronger up front, which we have. I think there has been a misnomer that we wanted these little lineman running around and grabbing on to people and really we just want all of our lineman be able to move. We like big guys that can move. They're better than small guys that can move, but we need everybody that are able to move and I think we've got some guys that have gained some mass and yet can still move. The experience helps too. It is night and day when you have an experienced offensive line, how quickly you can install. That's where we have to be careful as coaches. We can do more because our O-line can handle it, yet we got young guys at other positions." We have to weigh that balance, but it is nice to have. We go through today and I think we had one bad snap, which is usually an issue, whether it is a shotgun snap or under snap. I think we had one today and in all the number of reps we had. So you can tell that coming from experienced guys."

Question: Rich, since we saw you last week, it came up in the West Virginia NCAA allegations. What was your reaction to that?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think we made a statement about that didn't we. I'm talking about Michigan football."

Question: You talk about seniors taking ownership this year, is it fair to stay that this group of seniors that have come up under you a little bit are going to take a little bit more than in years past under you here?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think so. Again, with the season just starting, I could sense that from talking to them. Talking to them over the summer, they were having meetings amongst themselves. They called me to talk to me about it. I had them over my house to talk to them about it. I do think that even though it is a small senior class, I think they are not afraid to be vocal. We've had the last couple of years, we had guys that would be vocal too, but I think we have more in this group. They all know that we have something to prove and I think it is going to be a great senior class. With that said and I will tell you, I can tell you now that they came up with a neat idea. It was their idea to maybe pick two permanent captains before the season and then let us have two game captains throughout the season ... which I had never thought of that concept, and I liked the idea. I've said this is a bunch of times before that I like for all the seniors to have an ability to be a game captain and have some ownership in the team and leadership and all that. There are times where if you have the right two that can lead now and take charge of the team. Not necessarily during practice because that's what coaches do, but in the locker room, off the field, and all that kind of stuff is why teams do it. I thought it was a pretty neat concept and I thought that if we have the right two guys that they'll vote on, it could be a good thing. So they voted on it and the results I'll give to the team tonight and you'll know about who it is tomorrow. Who the two permanent captains will be. And at the end of the season we'll pick two more if they are worthy. They'll have two more game captains in addition to them every game, if they are worthy, which I think we'll have."

Question: Who's idea was that?

Coach Rodriguez: "It was the seniors. It was the seniors' idea. I thought it was a pretty good idea."

Question: So the two permanent captains will only come from the senior class?

Coach Rodriguez: "Only from the senior class."

Question: Going back to the quarterback position, the whole group. Do you think there is any chance that you'll have one starter by the opening game?

Coach Rodriguez: "Sure there is a chance of that. If somebody clearly separates themselves from performance standpoint and all that during camp and he is clearly the starter and he is better than the other guy and he has proven it then he'll be the guy as long as he performs okay. There is always a chance of that. Now my hope is that there is more than one at every position but there is a chance that could happen, we'll see."

Question: When you're gone, will there be a practice that runs without you?

Coach Rodriguez: "No."

Question: Are there 105 guys on your roster?

Coach Rodriguez: "Correct."

Question: Are you maxed out?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. We are at 105."

Question: How much does it help the defense to have continuity in the coordinator. For some of these guys it is the first time that they've had the first coordinator for two straight years.

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I think their familiarity not just from schemes but also personalities, I think really helps. I think the expectations from each coach helps. We have the one new coach defense. The guys understand our program and I don't have to tell them the routine of practice. How we go about practice. How we go about stretch and they understand that. They have the coordinators back and having some familiarity with Coach Gibson taking over the special team's coordinator job. The guys know him and know the schemes. So I think that should help us."

Question: Since it is the first day of practice, do you address with the team the whole big picture, the scrutiny of you, the NCAA, the pressure, the record, have you addressed that with them?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. I'll handle that. That's the head coach's job. They handle what is going on in Schembechler Hall. All that other external stuff, I don't want our players to get hung up in that. They have to remember what the main thing is. The main thing is to get that Michigan degree and have a successful team. That's the main thing. All that other stuff, I told them let me handle it."

Question: So how do you handle it?

Coach Rodriguez: "I hope like I'm supposed to. Do the things that a head coach is supposed to do. Take care of the responsibilities, be forthcoming and truthful and go full speed ahead. Nobody wants to go through some of the difficulties that we went through. That's not a very fun process but it is what is and I'd better handle, because I've got to do it. I've got a great support system on my staff, my family, the University, our athletic department. I mean it is not a one man, hey it is not all on you. I've got a lot of people that have been very, very supportive. Just work hard every day, wake up every morning and see what I can do to help make our program the best in the country. I go to bed at night, when I can sleep thinking what I can do the next day to make our program the best in the country. That's all you can do."

Question: How soon can you tell if the freshman is going to be able to help you?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably within two weeks. I think you're never going to tell in shorts. You may get a little idea, but really the pads answer a few questions. Really it is after our first scrimmage … right now as you can imagine, you'll practice and the coaches are kind of helping direct the freshman what to do and all that. When we have our first really, really big scrimmage, which will be two weeks into camp, the coaches are off the field and they are truly like a game where there is nobody telling them what to do. Then you can see how guys can pick up concepts and how ready are they are to play against UCONN. So in two weeks we'll know."

Question: Do you intend to award any scholarships to walk-ons at the end of camp or at any point in the camp?

Coach Rodriguez: "I could. There are a couple of guys that are awarded ... and I'm kind of torn, because I'd like to announce it and it is usually becomes general knowledge anyway ... but I also have a lot of other ones that are worthy. So I do not make an announcement to the team because I don't want a guy that is maybe right next in line to think geez, when do I get mine. You know I was A walk on and went through this process. I remember when I got told, it was kind of privately by Coach Nehlen, and it was a great day. It was like an achievement -- but it was just the start, it wasn't the end. Every walk on that I've ever put on scholarship -- I've been fortunate to put a bunch on including three or four every year here -- I tell them that this is not the end of your goal; hopefully this is just the start. There are a few that have earned it in the past and they earned it again now, and I think there will be a few more that have earned it by the end of camp."

Question: How do you evaluate the speed of your freshman class?

Coach Rodriguez: "I do think that we do have a pretty fast freshman class. I'm talking fast both from the guys up front and the guys that play other positions. I like the speed of them and judging on today, it is a little simpler. I did not see a freshman make a lot of big major mistakes in practice today. We'll watch the film tonight and I'll you better but I think it is a pretty sharp group from a football standpoint."

Question: Did you get to work with the punters today?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah."

Question: How did they look?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well Will Hagerup will be what we thought. He has a very powerful leg. He's a good athlete and if he progresses like we think, he should be the guy against UCONN."

Question: How many do you have on scholarship?

Coach Rodriguez: "We have a couple to give."

Question: There are some young defensive players that you are hoping to step up and maybe fill some holes for you?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably too soon to identify right now. I think the positions that we are probably looking for younger guys to contribute are pretty easy for me to tell you, like safety. We got a couple of safety positions that some of the true freshman are going to have a chance to compete if they can learn. At corner, the corner position and it gets kind of scary when you think about true freshman competing there, but they have a chance to get into the two deep there. The D-lineman may be a little bit more difficult for those guys, but once we get into pads, I'll tell a little bit more about that."

Question: There was a report yesterday that Michigan is going to Alabama in 2012 in Dallas can you just give an update on what the status of the contract is and what's the appeal of playing a game in Texas?

Coach Rodriguez: "I believe those conversations are ongoing. Is that the right answer?"

Question: If it comes to happen, what's the appeal to playing a game in Dallas? What does that do for recruiting in Texas?

Coach Rodriguez: "You all tell me. Do you think that would be fun?"

Question: Your running back position, at all concerned about experience there or what not?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not a whole lot. I think we have a little bit of experience. I think we have enough. You'd be more concerned if you have no talent there. I think we have some talent there and we have more guys that I think we're going to be able to plug in there. The guys that play a little bit of Vincent Smith. He was pretty well until he got hurt. Mike Cox had a great spring. Fitz Toussaint, I think maybe would have played last year if he was healthy and he is healthy now, Stephen Hopkins is a big back. We missed the big back with Brandon Minor, but Stephen Hopkins can maybe fill that role. Then we have other guys like Kelvin Grady who is going to play in the slot and play at running back. He looked like he is in really good shape. He's a full time football player now he tells me. He may still shoot jumpers or play a game of horse on occasion, but he's a full time football player and he said that he had a great summer. He's a guy that is going to play multiple positions for us and I'm excited to that."

Question: How do you feel about your guys Tweeting during the season? I think you tweeted once today, if that was you.

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes I did (laughter). You're going to have to tell me what I said, I may have forgot (laughter). Probably it is like a parent, you'd prefer that your kids do not Tweet or Facebook, but if that is something that makes them feel good and into their social network, we just have to really explain to them, which Dave did a nice job of last night and we'll keep constantly reminder that. We monitor that and we follow them and they got to make sure that they are representing not only themselves and their family but every other football player, our University, our community and they really got to be careful. Before you push that send button and it is there for life, future employers or whatever have to look at that. I think our guys are pretty well educated about that. I didn't want to put a ban on it and I don't know how many guys do that, but it is a concern as a coach because they just may have a weak moment and put something on there that they think is completely innocent and yet it embarrasses them or puts them in a light that really is not them. All we can do is educate them and hope that they respond maturely."

Question: Do you follow your players?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't but somebody does for me."

Question: You've talked about a lot of things that you've had to deal with over the last couple of years has been drama. How much does winning fix that or cure that or negate the drama?

Coach Rodriguez: "Hopefully if you win it puts the attention more on the games themselves than other issues. I think that is a natural expectation."

Question: Do you have to do any more prep work for Seattle this week or are you strictly coaching?

Coach Rodriguez: "Naw we're coaching and we'll fly out of here. We'll practice Friday afternoon and we'll talk on the way up over there and come back Saturday night and get back to work on Sunday."

Question: Where you aware of the comments that Troy (Woolfolk) made last week, did they tell you during the summer workouts that Tate wasn't showing up as much as everybody?

Coach Rodriguez: "The nice part about the seniors is that they really try to get ownership or take ownership themselves. As a coach, that's what you want. You want your whole team to do that. Your seniors and then your juniors and again I could sense that happening. We all want the same things. We all want to have success and particularly and I've said this every year. I want our seniors to enjoy there last year more than any other year in their entire athletic careers and they understand and want that. I think they'll get that right. Let's not make too much of one scenario. Let's limit the drama, again I'm saying this to you all but our players can help on that, let's keep the main thing, the main thing."

Question: Can you give us an update on Brock Mealer?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't talk to him today, but I did see him walking today. I talked to him the other day and he knows that he's up against it. What does he got? Less than 26 days to lead us out. We got three weeks when we do our little Beanie Bowl, our practice game and he's going practice there running and walking down the tunnel for us. I'm as proud of him as any player that I've coached, because I've seen him work in the last seven or eight months to get to the point where he is at right now, where the odds were…he is that 1% that can prove that he can do it."

Question: Yesterday Jim Leyland in a roundabout way to get to a question; Jim Leyland said that the Tigers played a crappy game, but they won and the only thing that Tiger fans care about is that they won. In building a program, you're still trying to make people better but how important is it to win and no matter how you do it I guess is the question.

Coach Rodriguez: "I've said this several times. You know you've gotten better in your program when you can play bad and still win. We've not been good enough obviously to play poorly the last two years and win. I hope that we don't test that theory this year. I'd rather we play well and win, but if you can play poorly and have a few turnovers and have a few mistakes and still win, against your conference schedule or whatever, you know that you're getting better. We plan on playing better and winning, which is the ultimate goal. Winning cures a lot of things. I've been told that by a many of folks."

Question: Do you feel the urgency this year?

Coach Rodriguez: "I feel a sense of urgency every day since I started coaching and not just as a head coach. As an assistant coach, as a graduate assistant some 24 years ago, as a head coach when I was 24. Every day I feel a sense of urgency and I think coaches do naturally. If you love competing and they keep score, you feel a sense of urgency to win."

Question: The other day Ron English said that he preferred to recruit kids that come from two-parent family. Do you experience or preference when recruiting of a recruits background?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not necessarily. Anybody you recruit you want to sell them as totally committed to doing all the right things on and off the field, get a degree, being a successful football player, being a good person. I have some from two parents, no parents, to one parent and all different things in between. I don't pigeon hole a recruiting class into a certain social, economic or certain type of family situation. I've been fortunate to have success from guys from all different type of scenarios."

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