Full Transcript: RR on the Team Competitions

Coach Rod on the Offensive Tackle competition, on the kicking competition, on the linebackers, on the cornerbacks, on the Blue Helmet kids ... more.

Question: In light of Troy's (Woolfolk) injury; have you had to do any personnel adjustments to shore up that area?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. We moved some guys around the secondary. There are just a host of players that will be competing for it and it probably elevates the sense of urgency for some of those young guys to get ready."

Question: Who are some of the players that are taking advantage of the opportunity that you do have in the secondary?

Coach Rodriguez: "I'll tell you in a couple of weeks. All the young guys, every DB has a chance. It's a tough loss because was in such great shape and he was playing really well. It's tough luck and he'll bounce back and the team will bounce back. I've got confidence that we got guys that will step in there and play well."

Question: How long do you expect him to be out?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know if we know all the details yet or not with that situation. I think we are still waiting on some medical results there."

Question: You had moved Teric (Jones), but he's the only guy who moved from offense, or had Teric already been moved over there?

Coach Rodriguez: "He had been moved over there at defensive back."

Question: Are you relatively healthy other than that?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I think for lack of a better word typical camp injuries, a few guys that are sore and banged up, missing a day or missing a practice or two. Hopefully…we'll see. We have this big scrimmage on Saturday. I don't know if all of them will scrimmage but most of them should be able to. There may be one or two guys still held out for that."

Question: When you said there would be some moving around in the secondary, does that mean that potentially some safeties could move to corner?

Coach Rodriguez: "Well, we had moved some already, some safeties to corner. There may be some more. With our schemes, our free safeties and our corners are in the same meeting room, so I think they probably no each others position anyway. We have some pretty good young athletes there. The coaches will have a good plan for it."

Question: Anything further on the running back competition; are they still kind of neck and neck and are you still trying to sort that out?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yep. It will be an ongoing battle. It probably will not be settled as far who is the top guy. Again, I'm hoping that their will be guys, two preferably three ready for the UCONN game."

Question: Are you pleased with the progress of the position as a whole though?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I have been. I think we've made steps on both sides. I think there are moments we're ragged. Like today's practice, there were moments we were pretty good and moments that we were ragged. I don't know if it is the effect of an afternoon practice or a two a day practice, a little warm out there or not. The attitude has been super and that has been the one thing. Our guys know that when we are not practicing at the level that we need to, they move around pretty well in practice. So I've been pretty pleased with the attitude and we're getting great leadership from our senior class."

Question: As you whittle down, is there a point where you have to start focusing more. You had said eight to nine days before camp; is that true for all positions or is some easier to judge than others?

Coach Rodriguez: "Really after the scrimmage Saturday and we'll have another smaller scrimmage mid week next week and after that we will kind of really start to hone down who the guys will be on the two deep, the travel squad and who will get a majority of the reps. We've toned it down a little bit now, but the third group is still getting some reps now. After mid week next week, we'll primarily stay with two groups."

Question: Talk about the camp Craig Roh has had playing with the added weight.

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he has moved around pretty well. He's in good shape. I think we were able to do some things with last year, but with him being bigger now. He's in really good shape and he is running well. So he is carrying the extra weight pretty well."

Question: Is Mark Moundros still in contention for that starting spot? What's going on a linebacker?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah sure. It helps us that some of those linebackers can play multiple positions. Obi Ezeh can play a couple of the positions. Mark probably can. Kenny Demens can. JB Fitzgerald can. Kevin Leach can play a couple of positions. We've got some versatility there at linebacker."

Question: Have you heard anything on Jon Bills? Has he been around or will he be back?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. He's been with us in camp. He is serving as a student assistant coach. He still has his brace, his halo on. I think it is coming off in the next few days, so I know he is going to be excited about that."

Question: Rich, you mentioned maybe moving people position wise; anyone from wide receiver who might play in the defensive backfield?

Coach Rodriguez: "No, no. Strictly defensive guys."

Question: Anything specific you can share about the scrimmage, like ideas that you are going to look for? Are there specific positions that you are looking at or overall?

Coach Rodriguez: "Really overall, all the competition and we're going to try and put them in a…right now, as you can imagine, it is coaching standing behind guys and sometimes telling them what to do and all that. In scrimmage, I won't let them do that, the coaches. It will be just them out on the field and try to see if they can handle the adjustments and see the signals and make all the calls and do that on their own. Seeing how, particularly the young guys, the freshman and some of the redshirt freshman, see how they handle those game like situations. So we are going to try and put them in some game like situations and do all of our special teams, at least most of them Saturday and hopefully let them get used to the new turf at the Big House, so that'll be the first time for us on the new turf out there and I'm anxious to see that."

Question: What is the mood like on the team after a guy like Woolfolk goes down and he is such a leader and all?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think initially any time a guy gets hurt, everybody is concerned at first for their teammate. After they see he is okay and even though he is injured they are able to bounce back. Young people are pretty resilient. They tend to bounce back pretty quickly and they know Troy will bounce back. I think there was a short period of time where everybody is down and then they see him getting around and…they'll bounce back."

Question: In the past, you were trying to simplify your offense, getting maybe I think you said 70% to 80% are in. Are you putting more of your offense into this year?

Coach Rodriguez: "Not yet. I think we've kept it pretty simple so far in camp. There is more that we're going to have to do to get ready for UCONN. So after the scrimmage, we've really slowed our installation down this week and then after the scrimmage, we'll evaluate what we need to have and what we got to throw out. What we cannot execute and then move forward."

Question: How close are you now to getting more snaps to one guy as opposed to sharing them?

Coach Rodriguez: "I've never done. I've always had at least two and they've almost always have got at least the same number of equal reps. Even when I've had a clear cut starter, the second guy got just about as many reps, a little bit less but just as much. Some people will go maybe five reps with the first guy and three or two with the second. We've usually gone four and four, sometimes we'll go five and three. Right now all three guys are getting an equal amount of reps and I would suspect that will take place until after the scrimmage."

Question: Are you also giving them equal time with the first string offense and the second offense or is it just…?

Coach Rodriguez: "Maybe. It's pretty equal. Right now, whether they go with the ones or twos, because guys are coming in and out a little bit. We don't have a firm one or two established on any side that…I don't think they are too worried about if they are running with the first group or not. On the scrimmage on Saturday, it is going to be mixed. It is not going to be ones against ones or twos against twos. It is going to be kind of a mixed bag of who is going against who. I think that is probably a fair evaluation, let them rotate in that way."

Question: Is everything live in the set scrimmage?

Coach Rodriguez: "No the quarterbacks have not been live."

Question: Will they Saturday?

Coach Rodriguez: "No they won't be live Saturday."

Question: Ever in August?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. Once in a while they get banged accidentally what have you, but if they look like they are carrying the ball loose or if they are not doing their fundamentals right then will put them live. We let them get beat around in the spring. That was good enough for us."

Question: How has ball security been?

Coach Rodriguez: "It has been good, really good. I say that…I don't know if we've had a fumble in the last couple of days. We've had a couple of interceptions where one or two were tipped balls and a couple of them were bad decisions. We've thrown the ball pretty well. Not as well as we need to and as I think as well as we will be in a couple of weeks. We've really done a good job of taking care of the ball and it has been a point of emphasis obviously for us the whole camp."

Question: What kind of camp has Tate (Forcier) had?

Coach Rodriguez: "He's had a pretty good camp. He's really gotten better. He's been challenged as have several of the guys have and so far he is responding to it. He's fighting back with it and responding to the challenge. I think he's gotten better. You can tell that he is a little bit bigger and strong, as is Denard (Robinson) and Devin (Gardner) both. I think we got three guys that are getting slowly, better, better and better. I think the competition is really helping us and helping them."

Question: Is it possible that Devin could win this job?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, sure. It is possible. He came in further behind because of the one year experience that they have. He has not played in a game, but it is possible that he can do that and he is competing to do that."

Question: Is it likely?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. Possible, likely, possible is a better word."

Question: Last week that Steve Schilling said that Tate has been very quiet and just working…well just working hard, is that how you see it?

Coach Rodriguez: "There is a lot of interest in Tate isn't there. Is he Twittering you or something that I don't know about?"

Question: No in light of the helmet and everything, the wingless helmet and everything. I think there is a lot of interest in that?

Coach Rodriguez: "Oh you knew about that."

Question: Yeah.

Coach Rodriguez: "I can't keep no secrets any more (laughter). No, he has worked and some of the guys that we've challenged and you do that as coaches. A handful of guys that you know have some talent or have the ability and you want to challenge it a little bit. You want to see how they respond. Tate has responded so far to the challenge as has a couple of other guys. It helps when they know there is some competition there and I've said this a bunch of times. We're slowly getting some competition. It is younger competition, when you have competition because juniors and seniors especially veteran competition that is even better. At least we have more and Tate knows that he has some. I think that has so far helped him. He wants to do well. He wants to please. So we'll see where it takes him."

Question: Does he have his wings back?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. They got it back today. Yes they did. There is a story for you."

Question: What warranted getting his wings back today versus…?

Coach Rodriguez: "We wanted to see some consistency a few days in a row. For a guy that does it one day and then not do another day. We want to see if you can do it on a sustained period. Those guys did."

Question: Is that something you've done in recent years too or is this something…?

Coach Rodriguez: "No, no that was the first time. You guys would have know it, knowing you all. You would have known that last year."

Question: What kind of camp have Jonas (Mouton) and Obi have had?

Coach Rodriguez: "Obi, I've been really pleased. Jonas has been a little bit banged up, but he was in great shape and started out pretty well. He has had to rest a day or two, but he should be fine. They're in really good shape. Again, our senior class I think is doing a great job of leadership. We had a really nice video that we showed the other day about the history of our program and then the seniors presented some team goals to them, which we'll keep to ourselves. They've taken a lot of ownership in this year's team and that is something as a coach you like to see."

Question: Did the seniors come up with the goals?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I wanted the seniors to come up with the goals and then I gave them a few tips, I do not know a handful of tips, five or six or seven to help them achieve those goals and each player got a copy of it with their name on it and it is somewhere in a safe secure place."

Question: Where you pleased with what they came up with?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. The goals are usually pretty common, but for here, you're going to have higher expectations and that's what we want. Everybody wants to go into the season competing for a championship and winning a championship. To me, if you had players that thought less than that, then gosh they are not very ambitious. We've got ambitious guys and they're working toward that end. You have to play….as I reminded the team, you have to practice at a championship level every day. You have to prepare every day at a championship level. It is hard to do that sometimes in the middle of two a days when it is hot and the second practice in pads what have you. They understand that. This is not a team that I have to make the point over and over and over again. We make a point to them and I think they get it. They understand it."

Question: Obviously, it is always important having leadership, but all that you guys have been going through, how important is it that these seniors have taken this kind of ownership?

Coach Rodriguez: "It's critical. I think as I've told the seniors when I've met with them a couple of times, we need it…not only in practice…we got the coaches to help with that but in the off the field and in the locker room, around campus, at the hotel now during camp. They cannot be afraid to speak out. The players have to understand that when a senior is getting on you about something, don't take it personal, they are doing it for the betterment of the program, betterment of the team. Sometimes young guys don't understand that and sometimes seniors are afraid to speak out when they want to correct something and I don't think this group is. I don't think there is a lot of talkers in this group, but they'll talk when they have to."

Question: Is that an improvement in leadership over the past couple of years or is that something that you've kind of been having the last couple of years as well?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. I think we've had good leadership each the last couple of years. Where I think the difference is that the first year the guys probably didn't even know exactly what we wanted in terms of that leadership. Last year, we had some really good leaders, Zoltan (Mesko) and BG (Brandon Graham) and Stevie Brown, they were great leaders. They were maybe weren't as vocal at times. BG was at times. This year's group, I think wants to be more vocal when they want to be and that is a little different."

Question: Are you feeling a little more secure about your kicking situation?

Coach Rodriguez: "The kickers have kicked better. All three of the kickers, the last two days have been pretty good. Both punters, Will Hagerup has punted pretty well for a true freshman and Seth Broekhuizen has done a nice job the last couple of days as well. I've seen them getting better a little bit. Normally, they'll get a little bit tired, they're legs will. We've told them that they have to rest a little bit and not over kick because that sometimes will happen in camp and two a days, kickers will kick too much and we've tried to hone that down a little bit."

Question: So Seth is kicking and punting?

Coach Rodriguez: "He's doing both, yeah."

Question: Who is the third guy with (Brendan) Gibbons?

Coach Rodriguez: "Justin Meram, the soccer guy. You guys know about him right? He said coach I can throw it too. I said I don't believe it (laughter). You never throw, you pass with your feet. I said you can probably pass with either foot, but I don't know if you can pass with those arms."

Question: How is the competition going at the offensive tackle spots?

Coach Rodriguez: "Still pretty good. I've really been pleased with Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge. They are veterans. They've come back and played pretty well. The two young guys, Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield are competing right there with them and having pretty good camps."

Question: Are you going to have to hold anybody out because of the scrimmage on Saturday?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know yet. I'll get a trainer before we see. Tomorrow we'll practice in shells and pads and bang a little bit, but we won't be going live and so I'll have a better idea after tomorrow's practice. I don't want to say they have an easy day, because they have to get up and have a few meetings, but there is just one practice tomorrow and no lifting or anything like that. They have a chance for some guys to get healthy."

Question: What have you been most encouraged about during this camp with this group?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably that I think they like to work. They come in there and nobody is late for meetings and nobody is late for practice and everybody is attentive. You don't have to get on them about let's get ready to go or whatever. They're earlier and they're willing to stay late. We've not been staying late. We've been trying to get into practice, get crisp and move right on. They have responded really, really well. I love their attitude and I love their work ethic. That's the start of it."

Question: Is summer school over yet?

Coach Rodriguez: "Yes. Now I say that, but I think there are one or two guys that are still taking a final, maybe tomorrow. The freshmen are finished and so for the most part summer school is over. That's really what has hindered our freshman a little bit, the last eight or nine days going through the bridge program. They've missed some meeting time, so mentally they've been behind. What I'm anxious to see over the next five or six days is those freshmen now that all they have is football; how quickly can they progress, particularly those on defense."

Question: When will you know about the eligibility of the upper classman that are uncertain?

Coach Rodriguez: "Probably when the grades come out in about a week or so."

Question: Without saying what it is necessarily, has there been something that has just really stunned you or shocked you about the progress of your team or is it going pretty much as expected?

Coach Rodriguez: "There are certain things that I list that as things we want to get done by whatever 13 or 14 practices in camp or something and we're right on track. Nothing overly stunning, had a little bit of bad luck, as we mentioned the other day, but other than that I think we've really made progress. So I think we're right on track. The scrimmage is going to tell me a lot, because we've been doing a lot of hands on coaching, particularly with the young guys and all that. We step aside Saturday. I'm anxious. We're going to try and put them in that kind of pressure situation and see how they respond in the stadium even though there is not going to be 100,000 and that'll tell us a lot then. Again, I wish we had…I've said this a bunch of times. We have no way to really measure until we play a game. If there is one rule I could change, or we could change would be to allow us to have a scrimmage or an exhibition game against somebody else. We're the only level that doesn't do that, 1AA, division II, NFL, high schools; they all have scrimmage games and judge themselves. The first time we tee it up it counts. So there is always a lot of unknowns or uncertainties going into the first game, we just try to minimize that."

Question: Jon Falk has got a new book out and he's going to talk about it tomorrow morning.

Coach Rodriguez: "Oh he is, imagine that (laughter)."

Question: I wonder if you had a copy or had a chance to look at it in your spare time?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know if I got the first copy but I got one pretty quick. I've started to read it. I have not read it all yet. I've told Job…he asked if I read the one small chapter that I was in just briefly so I wouldn't be mad about it. I said I'll skim through that part. He's got a lot of stories to tell and he's an icon and everybody loves Big Jon. He does a great job for us. I'm looking forward to finishing the book when I get some time."

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