gambling establishment etc
File photo courtesy of the Michigan Daily
A couple notes from Michigan's Sports Information Department: Redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony LaLota has asked for, and received a transfer release. Michigan's game against Bowling Green in a couple weeks will be a noon contest on either ESPN or ESPN2.
Notre Dame and UMass
Injuries: Mike Jones suffered broken leg, and is doubtful for the remainder of the season. Brandon Herron sprained his ankle, and is day-to-day. JB Fitzgerald, Mark Moundros, Kenny Demens, and Kevin Leach will step up a bit.
"Anybody that says they don't want to be liked is probably lying to you. Everybody wants to be liked" the only thing that matters is how you react to it. Positive press "It's like poison - just don't swallow it." On bandwagoners: "What I'm worried about is things I can control. Am I a different guy now than I was two weeks ago?" People's perception is whateva for him. "There's probably some people who will still be unhappy. No matter what we do. And they'll be unhappy for the rest of their lives."
The team played well enough to win Saturday, it's not a case of being good enough to win despite playing poorly. Would like to have some plays back, "we're still not good enough to play poorly and win... I still would not like to test that out." There were enough good things to say that the team didn't play poorly.
On penalties - "some of them I still question. Nonetheless, we had them." Late hit on Cullen Christian: "I couldn't tell initially." Coaches film revealed it was a close call, but an unnecessary thing for Christian to do.
Nobody really realized that TJ Jones dropped the ball before scoring the TD. Wouldn't have known anyway, with no video boards in ND Stadium. "It's certainly a teaching moment to tell our guys to run down and jump on the ball." Michigan shouldn't have an issue with dropping the ball before the endzone: "We hand the ball to the official. That would never happen to a Michigan guy."
Poise down the stretch on the road - "You learn a lot on the road... When it's a hostile environment and the crowd goes crazy every time they make a play." There were never any Michigan guys who seemed to be afraid when ND made plays. "Hey, let's go out there and play football" was their attitude.
"I didn't see any panic whatsoever on anybody on the sidelines" after ND took the late lead. Face adversity in every game, they'll learn how to deal with it with experience.
No turnovers - "Denard put it on the ground one time" he was holding it loose, and Vincent Smith's hustle bailed him out.
"Two weeks ago, I'm not sure we'd have been favored" against UMass. Rankings didn't matter then, and don't matter now. Shouldn't bother with polls until October.
RR will bring up Virginia Tech losing to James Madison to remind the guys not to overlook anyone. "Thee's already been what 5? 5 or 6 this year?" FCS beating FBS. In FCS level, the good teams are really really good. If you play an average or below average FCS team, the D-1 teams aren't going to have a problem. "We're playing a good one. UMass is one of the good teams in 1-AA."
"You don't have to be listed as a recruiting service 5-star recruit to be a very good college player or even an NFL guy." Parity b/w 1-A and 1-AA - there are more kids that are getting known now. "All the upgraded facilities." Everyone has somthing to sell to recruits, and kids want to go somewhere they'll play. "We sell the biggest stage and greatest education."
"We'll do whatever we've gotta do to win the game." In the UMass game, they'll do what it takes to get the W, even if it means lots of Denard.
"I'm biased. I think we've got a bunch of good guys." Guys who succeed academically, athletically, and people who are just good guys. Some guys might be misunderstood (I assume he's talking about the Chris Henry, Pacman Jones, Demar Dorsey types), but some guys you know as soon as they're on campus, "this is a great guy." Denard was raised right, and has great family support. Loves football, loves playing at Michigan with his teammates.
Denard is continuing to grow and mature in the offense. Playing on the road was an experience that will help for the future. QBs haven't been hit in practice since camp started. They're not going to beat Denard up in practice. More worried about QBs throwing too much in practice.
Should they shield Denard from the attention? They've already talked about that. Everybody wants to talk to him. Good thing for him, family, and program. He's still got a full class load, practice, etc. "We're really gonna limit him. That's probably not going to make a lot of people happy." He's not seeking attention, though everyone likes being talked about in a positive way.
Denard's performance "continuation of the first game." He executed pretty well. He was hyped up to run at start of game, and would have taken a couple decisions back. Having such a young guy tear up opponents is a surprise. QB-centered offense though. "Denard's been taking a lot of threes" like a point guard who can make you pay for sagging off him.
On Denard's 57 carries - "You coach your team, I'll coach mine." [Ed: sounds like a snap back at Brian Kelly. Doesn't seem like there's much love lost there.] Lots of carries, but they do what it takes to win. Have two good backups. Denard getting better on run game reads and keeping his eyes in the right spot. He has great vision to read blocks - something they've been hamering him on since training camp.
"Some running backs, the more carries they get the better they go. Our running backs are fresh (laughs)."
RBs - They ran hard. There weren't missed reads, their lack of success was just due to the way ND was playing them. Opens up more things for the QB. Denard made a couple bad reads in the run game, but for the most part was sharp. "I think our biggest improvement in the runningback is to be involved not in the running, but the other aspects of it." They blocked well, and ran good routes. They can still block better.
Shaw and Smith "They're playing hard, not breaking a lot of big runs year but I like their effort." They understand the offense, are doing the little stuff, helping Denard with communication. "I'd like to get some of those other backs into the flow." Mike Cox, Stephen Hopkins, and Teric Jones might get into the flow. Fitzgerald Toussaint may be healthy enough to go this week.
Stephen Hopkins: "Yeah, every time he carries, he scores." He's a bigger back, but has a lot of 1-back skills. Getting closer to doing a lot of that stuff.
Roundtree's toughness: "He practiced all week." By Thursday he was doing everything, and there were no issues with the doctors. He made some nice plays. Receivers did a good job blocking downfield, but can still improve.
Outside WRs - "[Denard]'s got a lot of confidence with Roy, Martavious, Darryl Stonum." Hoping Hemingway will come back soon. Not a lot of depth out there. Tay and Stonum taking 80-some snaps - too many.
Downfield was blocking better than game one, but still can improve (from wideouts).
RR doesn't care who gets the yard if the team gets 500 rushing. "Would you like to have more balance? Yeah, if they give you that." "Denard wouldn't have whatever he's got rushing if he didn't have some dudes blocking for him up front."
Will Campbell and Quinton Washington couldn't wait for the game to start, and were hoping for a short-yardage situation. They have a few other packages that they're involved in.
Molk - "He and Steve Schilling are the two emotional leaders up front." Patrick Omameh - "He played better. And he'd be the first one to tell you the first game wasn't his best performance." He still has room to improve. The OL as a whole graded out "OK, it wasn't great. I thought Notre Dame's line got after us pretty good."
Defense good minus big plays - "you have to count the big plays in there." The D still held Notre Dame to six three-and-outs. There were lots of possessions though. They can play better, and missed more tackles than the first week (ND's players and technique issues in tackling were responsible for that). The three interceptions were huge.
Cam Gordon just made two bad plays. Just a technique thing where he misjudged the angles. "He'll be fine."
James Rogers - Really consistent. "He's seen the field, I've been really pleased with his play so far."
Kicking battle still open. Broekhuizen kicked the last extra point. Doesn't know today who will start on Sturday.
Hagerup will punt a lot better than he did on Saturday - just not on his game. "I didn't ask him" if it was technique or nerves "I just said 'can you kick a little better?'" Meram - hasn't been over as much with his soccer responsibilities.
Expecting 30-some guys to show up for walkon tryouts "I think there's gonna be a lot of kickers." "Maybe there's another Kovacs in there. Gosh, would that be great?"
UM Transplant Center - "I know what they do and the lives that they save." Had a staffer at WVU need a transplant to save his life. "I'm an organ donor. It's easy to do on your driver's license." Wolverine-Buckeye challenge to sign up people for organ donor registry. 108k people waiting for a transplant "The entire Big House."
Following Rich Rodriguez's time with the media yesterday, we also talked to TE Kevin Koger, RB Mike Shaw, LB Obi Ezeh, and DL Ryan Van Bergen.
"I think a couple people were shocked, because not a lot of people picked us to win." He was pleased with the team's performance.
Denard's performance - "I know he was doing what the coaches were coaching him to do." With his speed, if he doesn't need to stop his feet nobody will catch him. When Denard came in last year, teams knew it was a run. Now, they can't expect that. "He did take a lot of hits on Saturday, he did get hurt once."
"If it ain't broke don't fix it." The run worked well on Saturday, no need to worry about chucking the ball downfield more often. Teams have put 8 men in the box to stop the run. They might put more DBs in the box. "You really can't tell until you watch film." When they do that, you'll see more passing.
The big focus for WRs and TEs in offseason was dropped passes. They needed to work on their focus, ad it's paying off.
Everybody wants to make their blocks on every play, so it's not their guy that makes a tackle. Big play ability is always there with Michigan's team speed. Have to make your blocks "that could be the difference, so you never know." Downfield blocking "all comes down to effort. If you want to block, you block. If you don't [want to], you don't."
Kevin could notice a difference in crowd noise with the new boxes. You can hear the echoes off the boxes. "I think 113,000+ had a lot to do with it also."
Kevin traveled but didn't play a couple years ago at Notre Dame. He's ready to experience it for the first time. Players talk about "how loud it was and how tall the grass was."
"It was a good game. Coming out with a packed crowd like that, it was a lot of nerves, but we got through it and had a good showing against UConn."
"So far, so good" for Denard. "You never expect anybody to go out and have the game that he did." When he pulls the ball down, he's as good as a running back. If he stays healthy and everyone keeps blocking for him, it'll be all good. "Anybody can get a big run in this offense. It's so spread out." UConn wasn't ready for Denard's speed. Once teams key on Denard, it'll open up lanes for others. "As of September 4th, it was Denard's show." It's hard to compare Denard's command of the offense from last year. "What the coaches asked him to do, he did well - more than well."
Coaches look for stability and consistency in RBs. Shaw and Smith didn't fumble, etc. in camp, which put them ahead. There was no discussion of who was going to go in "when our numbers were called, we just went in there and did our thing." He's always hard on himself after a game. "I feel that I have a lot of room for improvement," especially in blocking and hitting creases harder.
He's talked to Roundtree, and they watched the play on which he got injured. Roundtree was thrilled to be involved in a big hit - he likes to be in on the action.
The O-line was a huge plus - even more than Denard. They've made big strides over the past couple years. They'll lead to a lot of big plays this year.
As for his academic situation in fall camp: "I am a student-athlete, and to not be eligible is not something I think the University of Michigan would stand for."
It's always a rowdy crowd at ND. Both teams have a lot to prove. "A lot of attention in the national spotlight."
The first three-and-out "that was nice" UConn's hurry-up didn't work out to start the game. "Our coaches got us really prepared for that game."
Fumble recovery - "In the right place at the right time, and kinda had my wits about me.... Kinda reminded me of the Michigan State game last year, when I had a fumble recovery and got smacked in the face."
The D-line was amazing. "A lot of people don't really hear about the efforts those guys put out." Hopes Martin knows that he appreciates the effort.
"I'm my worst critic," but Jonas played awesome. He was getting in the backfield, wreaking havoc, reading his keys, everything gelling well. "I felt comfortable out there too." Everyone makes mistakes - not perfect but a good game.
"Obviously things didn't go the way you wanted or you planned last year," and Obi used that for motivation. "I just want to win." All the seniors want to leave a legacy. There are more important things than last year.
The time of possession helped the defense. "It's fun when you don't have to play like 80-some plays a game." There will be times that Mich doesn't dominate possession, and the D is in good enough shape to handle that.
ND - Big game, big stage. Want to make a statement. "With that all being said, it's still a game, and just like last week you need to prepare, focus in, and practice hard." Everybody has a different version of the spread, so you have to prepare for ND differently. ND has explosive players at their disposal. "Our coaches are gonna come in with a gameplan obviously and we're just gonna focus in and execute to the best of our abilities."
Ryan Van Bergen
Did the team make a statement on opening day? "I think we did a pretty good job. I wouldn't say we had a performance that was perfect." There's a long season to progress, and young guys will come along during the season.
"I probably thought that in spring ball, probably first or second week" that Denard had really come along as a passer. He's accurate, which he struggled with last year. Completing passes will open up the run for him.
DL Coach Bruce Tall tries to rotate guys in and out along the line, to give the starters a rest. Even with the defense out there a long time, they can have depth and stay fresh. Mike Barwis has done a fantastic job with conditioning. Everybody on DL is leaps ahead of last year - which means a lot because they were in great shape last year too.
Position change "My role hasn't changed that much. It's a little bit nicer that I don't have to worry about a double team every play." BG gave him a lot of help.
He's "absolutely" happy to see somebody else have to chase Denard around.
Pressure on the QB. "Obviously I don't think we recorded a sack. We did a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing some bad throws." UConn went heavy protect a lot of times, but they're hungry to get some sacks.
Obi - "He just really resilient. He's gonna come back just as hard if not harder if he makes a mistake." Always a leader. He and jonas both motivated. Rubs off on the rest of the d.
Secondary - "I they played well." Don't have a veteran back there who's a bigtime leader. Those guys played well, weren't deer-in-headlights. Bounced back if they gave up any big plays.
"Obviously, I'm pleased with the victory." The stats were pleasant, though maybe not a surprise. The only penalty in the game came on the first drive, and there were no turnovers in the game. Third down conversions were pretty good at 14/19. "Our goal offensively was no turnovers and execute, and I think we did that for the most part."
At the last team meeting last night, Rodriguez could tell that the team was ready to get out there and play.
"We were halfway down the tunnel" for Brock's walk. It was a touching moment because they know the whole story.
"When they announced 113 thousand - I normally don't pay attention, but by that time the game was pretty much under control" Rodriguez thought it was amazing to have that many fans at the game.
RR didn't realize Denard ran the ball 29 times. He was really sharp passing, with only three incompletions. There are a few things that he can fix after watching film, but his decision-making was great for a guy in his first start. Denard and the rest of the backs did a great job running North and South instead of moving around laterally.
Denard showed a lot of toughness, and he'll only keep getting stronger as he grows. Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith showed toughness as well. "It's a good physical team we played, and UConn's gonna win a lot of games this year." Is there anything about Denard that reminds Rodriguez of Pat White? "Yeah, he runs fast." He also has a sense of feel for the game, and maturity. "If he can carry it 29 times for 200 yards, he'll carry it 29 times again." He probably won't be able to carry that many times so effectively in every game. Rodriguez would like him to carry it a little bit less.
Denard has been showing his potential since the Wolverines recruited him. "That's why we signed him." In the spring, he took another step forward. His experience last year helped, but spring practice helped him understand. "He'll hit some bumps in the road, and he's going to play against a lot of good people, and there's going to be mistakes made." The key is minimizing those mistakes.
"I knew, most of the guys knew, and I don't think it was probably a big secret" that Denard would be the starter. The goal in practice is to get all three guys better, and they've done that. In fall camp, Denard solidified himself as the guy who should take the first reps.
"Part of it is just going from a true freshman to second-year player, and understanding the offense." All the QBs can make all the throws they need.
Will Denard start against Notre Dame? "Stay tuned. I think you'll see him starting."
Devin came in after Denard's injury "Because that was a coaches' decision."
If the team doesn't turn over the ball, they'll have a chance to win. They haven't held onto it in the past, so the key is to take care of it this year.
The wind was a big factor in the game. "I think it was a factor somewhat, particularly in the kicking game."
"I felt, from the first series, on that long drive, that we had some fast guys in the space that they may have problems with."
"I will enjoy the next three hours and ten minutes. Try to get me five hours of sleep tonight, and my wife will probably get a chance to sleep a bit tonight." The program has been through a lot, but the focus has never wavered. They have tonight to enjoy the win, but after that, it's Notre Dame time.
After last year's disappointing finish, it was important to start the season on the right foot. "I want our guys to get some confidence." The key now is to maintain the level of intensity.
The defense played hard and tackled well. "We gave up a couple big plays, the one on the tipped pass that the guy made a good play on." The defense had to be ready, because UConn was playing at a fast tempo.
"I'd like to score more than 30, but I like the fact when you don't have to punt." It was good to get Will Hagerup some experience on his only punt of the day, though.
"Everybody likes a win. Everything is better. The food tastes better, you're in a better mood, everybody's happy." Michigan's 110,000 fans (RR estimates there were 3,000 cheering for UConn) deserved the win. The goal and expectation at Michigan is to win championships, but there's a process to get there.
Brendan Gibbons's missed extra point was a snap/hold issue. The missed field goal was due to a stiff wind knocking it short. Rodriguez was going to kick another field goal at the end, but though they'd have a chance to get the first down and run out the clock. "Seth Broekhuizen is still battling for the job."
"One of the goals as a coach when you coach college football is for your players to truly enjoy the experience of being a student-athlete." It's easier to do that with a win.
James Rogers was really poised, and made a couple nice plays. "We're probably going to kick ourselves watching the film defensively, because it looked like we had a couple opportunities to get some BIG big plays: interceptions and something like that, and we just missed out on the ball." The secondary was well-prepared.
Jeremy Gallon's fumbled punt was a tough one. "He's going to be a very good punt returner. Terrence Robinson will be fine too." Both guys will still play in the return game, though Rodriguez was not pleased with the overall play of the unit today.
Obi Ezeh's fumble recovery was a huge play.
The only real injury was Carvin Johnson "I don't know what his status is." (Afterwards, it was revealed he's day-to-day with a sprained MCL). Junior Hemingway's hamstring is injured, but "our hope is that he'll be able to go this week." Terry Talbott is still working through a clearinghouse eligibility issue.
"They practiced hard, and they've got a chip on their shoulder; they've got some things to prove. Hopefully today was the start of something good."
Winning the home opener is a big deal, but there's a lot more season to go. "They're just going to go back and work hard - and I know they will. We've got a big game next week; let's see how it goes. But I'll tell you what: I love the start, love the start."
On Denard Robinson: "I'll tell you what, he's the fastest guy on a football field that I've ever seen." His toughness in taking a bunch of hits against a big UConn team is underrated, as well. He can outrun guys even when they have the angle on him. His passing stats were as impressive as his running. "If you think too much about the run, he's gonna burn you."
There will always be critics, even with a big win. "We'll let [the plaers and coaches] enjoy this, because they deserve it."
The Stadium Rededication was designed to be special, which was the reason for the multiple flyovers, fireworks, etc. Brandon challenged the marketing team to come up with some special things.
"Brock is an inspiration to this team. He's got a share of this victory today, too." When he touched the banner, "I held it together pretty well until that moment, and I'll tell you why. I sat with him, we planned this whole thing. I told him how we needed to make this happen and he was great about it. I'm getting ready to leave, and he kinda called me over and said 'Mr. Brandon, would it be OK if I touched the banner?' That's what he wanted to do, and that's what he did."
The big victory felt good, because that's what the team has been working hard to achieve. "We just wanted to come out and just play."
The first touchdown run "felt a little bit weird because I was like on my injury, coming out and just catching the ball. I wasn't expecting to break that many tackles and just head upfield and score." The knee is 100%, and even Vincent was a little surprised by that.
With the team so focused, they're able to run the offense at a faster tempo. They knew which plays were going to be effective against the UConn defense. The team has been running that tempo in practice, so they were ready to play that fast.
On Denard: "I knew what he can do, and he just needed to be put in the right positions and come out and just play." The offensive line did a great job clearing the holes. Smith didn't think Denard would run that ball 29 times. Despite the heavy workload, "he always gets up. Very tough."
Denard's first start was pretty much everything he's dreamed about. "I've got my offensive line to thank, and my coaches for putting me in the right situation."
The quarterbacks found out last night that Denard would be the starter. Rodriguez also told the other guys to be ready. "I was just playing well, and I'm going to continue to play well. That's how it gonna be." Despite that, Denard's not guaranteed to start next week.
Setting the QB rushing record: "That's crazy. That's a dream come true, I guess."
Denard didn't know how many times he'd be carrying the ball, but he was ready to do whatever the coaches asked of him. "Coach told me to be ready, and I was ready."
Denard didn't have first-game jitters, because he saw the field a lot last year, even though this was his first start. "My team, my offensive linemen, all the seniors told me 'we got your back.'" He din't have to try to win the game by himself.
The biggest change from Denard 2009 to Denard 2010 is knowing the offense more, staying focused more, and "giving my all in the offseason."
UConn's players were trying to take Denard's shoes at the bottom of the pile. They got one of them on one play. "Trying to slow me down, I guess. Or slow down the offense, because the offensive line was just killin' 'em."
"I knew I always could throw the ball, that was never a question. It was just, getting the offense down at, that's basically what it was."
Denard wouldn't say what the design of the play was for Terrance Robinson's 43-yard reception. After leaving the podium, Denard (jokingly) told Rodriguez that the media was trying to steal the play.
Denard took a shot to the hip when he had to leave the game for a play. "I feel alright, pretty good, pretty good." He had confidence that he was going to be able to come back in.
The adrenaline takes over during games, so Denard doesn't really feel the nerves.
"It was a pretty good feeling" to have the offense rolling along in rhythm.
Are you going to wear shoelaces against Notre Dame? "(laughing) I'm not changing anything."
"It was definitely a tribute to our coaches and our preparation" to beat a good team like UConn. It was good to finally have a chance to show everyone what the team is capable of.
"James played a heck of a game, man. I'm proud of him, man." He's been waiting a long time to play, so it's good for him to get a chance.
On forcing UConn's only fumble of the day: "I just put my hat on the ball. When you're in position to make plays, the coaches put you in position to make plays, good things happen."
On Denard: "Aw man, he's a crazy animal to tame. He gives every defense problems." It's good to see him get a chance to show off some of what he can do.
this game is a step in the right direction. "We're at no point to stop working. We've still got a lot of things we've gotta do." A good game for the defense should be a mental boost for the young defense.
"You're blocking, and two seconds later you just see Denard 20 yards upfield. There's nothing better than seeing that."
"It's amazing how far he's progressed in such a short amount of time, and really without any true game experience, and now he's just building and building and building on what he can do." His patience and knowledge of the game are the biggest jumps.
The goal of the offense is to get first downs all up and down the field, and wearing down the defense. There was no specific key to converting third downs, everyone just did their job and worked well.
It was nice to see a lot of young guys get out and have a chance to perform.
29 carries won't wear Denard down. "He's just a tough kid. He's tougher than I am. He'll push through anything."
"We were hungry, we were so hungry." The team was hungry last year too, but the defense didn't pay as well.
When people talk about the defense not being any good "if they can give even, a little bit more of a morsel of motivation, then we're just gonna come out and do what we did today."
Getting stops and turnovers at critical times is huge. Getting the 3-and-out right at the beginning of the game really boosted the defense's confidence. "It's great. Confidence is obviously a big thing. The whole team is going in hungry, and nervous too. So, winning this gives us a huge confidence boost."
It was nice to see somebody else chase Denard. "I had to chase that guy all spring, and let me tell you, it's not easy catching that guy."
There were no real surprises from UConn. "I felt like what our coach told us was exactly what happened."
"I'd say in spring, we were molding into what we would become, and what you see today." That was more of a learning experience, and fall camp is when the intensity came in.
Craig's hybrid position is a perfect fit for a guy with a hybrid skill set like him. He can take pass drops, rush the quarterback, etc.
Former Michigan great Desmond Howard is promoting the AllState Mayhem Football Challenge, which you can find here. I got the opportunity to ask him about that and Michigan football earlier today.
You were recruited by Bo, but you also played for Gary Moeller. What helped that transition be so smooth, and why isn't it the same now?
Well, it's the obvious, I'm not gonna tell you anything that you don't know. It's pretty much that it was within the coaching ranks. I think that when you hire within, then the degree of change isn't that great. When you hire outside the coaching tree, so to speak, then the degree of change may vary, because a person's going to bring in their own philosophies, their own style, their own way of doing things. To me, that's just obvious. When you look at the coaches who followed Coach Schembechler, they weren't outside the family tree, so they were kind of keeping things consistent. That's what any program knows across the country. Once you hire within, then there isn't the huge degree of change that can happen when you hire outside of the family tree.
We hear all this discussion of how many wins Rich Rodriguez needs to keep his job, but how many wins do you see Michigan getting this year?
It's tough to say because you don't know about the product yet, so everybody just throws out numbers. I'm not in the business of just throwing out numbers just to give people numbers [despite working for ESPN. ZING!]. I mean, you need to see the product first. I thought coming out of the spring that they have an opportunity to have a pretty productive offense. I thought they had some real good talent at the skill positions. I felt as though their Achilles heel could possibly be their defense. Not saying that they wouldn't be a good defense, but I wasn't sure and I'm still not sure that they're going to be the type of defense that's going to be able to come up with big stops in big games to win those games for them. My opinion is that they'll be able to score some points, there's no doubt about that. They're going to put some points on the scoreboard, but will they be able to come up with those big stops in some crucial games to give them the victories? That's what I think I would want to see at this point.
You're one of just three Heisman winners from Michigan. Do you see anyone on the current roster who has the potential to contend for the stiffarm trophy in future years?
That's a good question. I think that they have some talent there, but that's such a prestigious trophy, I don't just put a player up for that just because I saw him do some things in practice. I have a little more respect for that trophy than to sit here and tell you something like that. I think they do have guys who have great potential, but until that potential manifests itself on an actual football field in a real game, then I can't put those sorts of lofty expectations on the potential. Do they have potentially good skill position players? Of course they do, I said that earlier, I think they have some fantastic talent at the skill positions. But, they've gotta go out there and show it.
You heard about the "#1 jersey controversy" between Braylon and Coach Rodriguez when he first came in. You never wore the #1 jersey despite being a great receiver at Michigan. What do you make of it all?
I guess Braylon Edwards had endowed the jersey or something like that. From my understanding, when Braylon did what he did, he was under the impression that he would have some sort of say in who wears that jersey. That's the part that gets dicey. I heard it was agreed that he would be able to tell who would wear the jersey or at least it would go to a wide receiver. I think at the end of the day, when I spoke with Braylon, he had a conversation with Rich Rod, Rich Rod was new and he wasn't aware of that whole situation, and then like two men they talked about it, they squashed it out, and I didn't think anything else came of it after that. I didn't think it really blew up.
You've probably seen the Big Ten division split by now. What do you think of Michigan and Ohio State being in opposite division but still playing on the last week?
I thought that different divisions made sense if you want to be able to give the fans an opportunity to see two of the most storied programs in the history of college football play each other for the conference championship, which is what most fans were used to anyway. That game wasn't the last game of the year just because it was convenient for both teams. That game was the last game of the year for those two teams because usually, that game came down to who would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. Now, not always, but usually. I think that now they're splitting them up so now you can till have a similar scenario.
After your days in the NFL ended, how did you start getting into broadcasting?
I graduated from Michigan with a degree in mass medium communications from the communications department. I guess that can help you understand how I was going that direction after I retired.
What can you tell us about the AllState Mayhem Football Challenge?
It's a great game, I think that they came up with an excellent concept. It seems like it could be win-win. Each week, there's going to be a prize given away, but the grand prize at the end is tickets to two huge games, They get tickets to the 2011 AllState Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship game. So I think it's a win-win for anybody who wants to play. It's in the spirit of college football; it just gives a lot of [armchair] college quarterbacks an opportunity to show how good they are at predicting the unpredictable. How good they are at trying to foresee mayhem, things that people normally don't think are going to happen, but end up happening, and can change the game. I think it's huge, it's a great opportunity for a lot of college football fans to get involved.
I want to make sure you understand the grand prize for this. They get tickets to both events - I wish I could play it. If I wasn't working, doing what I do for a living, I would play it, just for the opportunity to get tickets to the AllState Sugar Bowl AND the BCS National Championship Game. I mean, what college football fan wouldn't want to be a part of that.
Thank you, and thanks for the opportunity to hear about the AllState Challenge.
I'm telling you, it's a fantastic game. Have you seen the 3D TVs? I was at Best Buy a month ago, and I wasn't even in the market for a TV, I was just getting some other stuff. But wow, I stopped over there by the stereo and TV section, and they this 3D TV set up. What they were playing was this volleyball game. I'm not really a volleyball fan, and I mean, I must have sat there and watched that thing for 12 minutes. They're giving away 46-inch LCD screen 3D TVs, that alone would make me play either week.
"It's game week. Just more focused." Practice today, ready to see how fun practice will be. Excited to hit somebody new this weekend. Camp is tough and repetitive, but it makes the team better, and game week is time to focus on UConn. It's no different opening the season against a "tough opponent" than a MAC school. "Warmup game? I don't think no team on our schedule is a warmup game, man."
Michigan might surprise some people this year because they're putting in the work on the practice field. The schedule is 0-0 right now. "When we come to the game Saturday, and go out there and play our hardest, I'm pretty sure we can come out victors."
"This is Michigan, we have pressure every year." There's no use in worrying about past years, it's time just go out and "win for Michigan. That's our motive this year." Roundtree's confidence level is high, because Coach Magee has prepared the slots to know the game, and they don't have to think out there.
Work hard, stay focused to put himself in a position to succeed. "I know I have to go out there with a hard edge, I know I have to catch every ball that's thrown my way, I know I have to run decent routes, and get open where the quarterback can see me"
Rodriguez rotates the QBs a lot, so the receivers need to get used to all three. All three had fun and competed during camp. "I'll probably have to wait until Saturday to see" who throws the best ball. "I wish I did know [who the starter is]. If I did, I would have told everybody here." Won't find out until Saturday. "All three of them is pretty different," though there are explosive moments with all three. For UConn, it will be tough, and they'll gameplan around whichever guy starts.
Roundtree is comfortable playing slot or out wide, wherever he's needed more. He and Odoms can both play either, though Roundtree likes slot, because he played it in high school. Outside is a more physical position, and Martavious "likes that physical contact a lot."
First impression of Rodriguez: "Spoke to me like a real guy." Even before Roy was on the team, coach Rod was motivating him. "He never lied to me like other coaches did. He just always spoke the truth to me." Rodriguez used the upgraded Big House as a recruiting pitch. The players will get goosebumps to finally experience it. "I can't believe the stadium is looking like this."
"It's exciting. There's a lot of excitement around the building" getting into game week. The team is excited to finally go against someone else. There's plenty of motivation for a successful season. "My senior year, definitely want to have success, going out the right way." Schilling saw success as a freshman, and would like to bring back that feeling.
Three years into this offense, there's a much better comfort level for everyone, and they know more what's going on. The first year, they were getting used to it. Older guys can help teach the younger guys, which helps eeryone get into the swing of things. "We've had guys stepping up" as leaders on offense. Upperclassmen, QBs, seniors, etc. It's a good group of guys that have played the last couple years.
First impressions of RR - "I try not to make first impressions, really." Knew he was more fiery than coach Carr. Rodriguez has had success in the past, so he commands respect. That doesn't change even with the lack of success the past two year. Schililng has gained more respect for him past couple years as they've gone through adversity together.
The defense won't be quite the same without Brandon Graham. "It's different. Guys have stepped in. Brandon was a hell of a player, obviously." Other guys are working hard to step up. It's their time to shine. Greg Banks has experience, Ryan Van Bergen has experience, they understand what they're doing, and "the pressure it takes to play here, and play every Saturday at a high level."
Tate has responded well to the challenges of this fall. "Obviously he went through some adversity there with Troy's comments and the wings and all that stuff you guys know about." He's worked hard to prove himself, and show that he wants to be the team's quarterback. "I'm definitely gaining a lot of respect back for Tate," as are a lot of others.
Offense - "hopefully we can do everything well." The offensive line is proud of the team's ability to rush the ball.
Patrick Omameh has "grown up a lot, physically and mentally" the last three years. He got the chance to play some last year. He and Schilling can help each other out as the guards. "I think he's going to have a great career here. He's a young guy, and he's gonna need to contribute a lot this fall."
Mark Huyge has had some experience, and has played at both tackles (and even some guard). "That level of communication and trust is there between me and Mark and we know where each other's going to be, and what we expect out of each other."
Huyge and Dorrestein were motivated by the competition with the younger guys. Didn't want to lose their starting jobs. "Helped them get better, made them work extra hard in the off-season."
Taylor Lewan - "He's young, and he plays so hard." He has a bright future as he learns more and gets more comfortable there. He'll be able to contribute whether he's starting or not.
Mark Moundros listed first on the depth chart is not surprising given his work ethic and attitude. "He's a guy who'll do anything for Michigan." He has a defensive attitude, even at fullback. He's smart, and he's working really hard to learn.
Will Hagerup "kicks it a mile... I don't know anything about punting technique, but he can kick it far."
The defense will improve because they're more well-rounded. There are lot of different guys that can step up. Won't rely only on one guy or a couple guys. Lots of playmakers. Depth on the defensive line will help.
UConn "They're a good team... I know they've prepared for us, and we've done the same." Both teams will play hard and "we'l see who gets the 'W' at the end."
Martin has confidence in stopping the run against UConn. Getting to the ball, gap responsibility, more experience and depth on D-line and linebacking corps. GERG stresses minimum assignment - "getting in your gap and then playing football from there."
"As a defensive line we take a lot of pride in getting to the quarterback." Martin thinks they'll do a good job doing it this year. Not worried about the secondary: "They're gonna hold their own back there. They're going to do a good job with coverage, and we're gonna do our job with getting the rush."
"I'm definitely ready" for a big workload. BG played almost 700 plays last year, Martin only played slightly fewer, and he's used to a heavy workload. Patterson and Campbell will be good at backup. Ideal number of plays? Nose tackles don't usually play 70 plays a game. Martin is proud of his conditioning (thanks to Barwis) that will allow him to play so much.
Carvin Johnson is "a smart football player. He's always around the ball. He's a young guy, but he's a hard worker." He has "been getting interceptions, laying the wood on tackles." He doesn't say much, and wants to prove himself on the field. He's been impressive this camp. Like everyone on the defense, he has room to improve.
"I think they know that" the freshmen will play a big role on defense in the first game. Might need to calm them down a bit, because secondary players can't be quite as riled up as defensive linemen. "Just getting them relaxed, and getting them ready to play, and I think they'll do a good job."
The loudest crowd Martin has experienced at the Big House was Notre Dame last year, followed by Wisconsin the previous year.
Hasn't had the experience of going to a bowl game yet, team is hungry to do that. This game has a lot of excitement with the rededication, Brock, etc. The team is excited.
Leadership - "I'm not much of a talker, hoo-rah guy. I just go out there and play hard." Some of the seniors on defense - Mouton, Banks - pull guys together, and Martin has their backs.
It's a big week. Things change a lot in game week. "We all feel good as a whole." It's the third year, and they have a good grasp of the system. "We feel well-prepared, and ready to go."
"All three quarterbacks are great." Devin did a great job coming in and learning the offense. Other than how fast the balls come and where they come, it's all good. "I've developed timing and confidence in all three of them." Devin throws the fastest ball. No hand injuries from that yet.
The difference this camp is "I feel like I'm the oldest. And I have to step up and take that leadership role." The experienced guys have to step up and take leadership roles. "I had a great leader in Greg." Martavious, Stonum, and others have to be that for the young guys. "I just try to lead by example." In weight room, workouts, camp.
Contacts - "They're great. Did an eye test this summer, they wanted me to try out these new contacts." They help a lot, as he can see much clearer, and has an easier time focusing on the ball.
Stadium rededication - "I'm pretty sure it's probably gonna be a lot louder." The field is still 100x53.3, and "we just line up and play."
Stonum hasn't taken any big hits from Carvin Johnson. "Maybe not from Carvin, but Marvin... Luckily they haven't gotten any shots on me yet." "Carvin is like a ballhawk... Wherever the ball is, you're gonna find Carvin most of the time." He never gives up on a play, and gives his all on the fields.
Freshmen have all done a great job, especially defensive backs. With Troy going down, lots of guys trying to step in and prove they can fill his shoes. There's great competition in practice, which is improving the whole team.
Outside receivers not getting passes the last couple years could be attributed to getting used to the system. In Stonum's third year, he's worked hard in the offseason with the QBs. Used camp to prove the outside guys can be go-to and make big plays. We'll see a lot of that this year.
Notes from Coach Rod's Wednesday presser.
The QB battle is close. The coaches haven't been able to taper down who gets snaps. As long as they get better every day, you can be pleased with the progress. Everybody is too worried about who the starting QB is. The second team gets almost as many reps as the first team.
Any of the three are capable of starting right now, but he wants them to play at a high level. "If they're able to do that and execute the offense, then all three will play." Will keep QB choice quiet for competitive reasons. QBs will know Friday night (before game). Nobody else will know until kickoff at 3:36 Saturday.
No particular RB (or two) has stepped to the forefront. The position gets banged up in camp, which limits development. "We have some talent there, we'll be OK." The top 2-3 guys will play. Certain guys run certain plays better, so they'll get in the game for that play.
Fitzgerald Toussaint practiced yesterday, but not today. He's had a neck stinger, now his knee is sore. He'll be banged up a couple days, but might practice friday. Michael Shaw is still taking "the class," working hard at it. He's been spending half of his time practicing, and half of his time studying.
The offensive line is "not set as far as starters, but I think set as far as, you know who the 8-9-10 guys that are gonna be in the rotation will be." RR feels better about up front than the past couple years. He would like to play at least 8 offensive linemen (5 starters, backup C, G, T), depending on how they're performing and the tempo of the game. He would love to have two whole groups at line.
Improvement on defense has to come from several places. One guy can't replace Brandon Graham by himself. "The thing I probably feel the best about our defense is that we have a bigger pool of guys I think are going to be playing. That's going to allow us to have a little more depth, do a few more things defensively." If a couple guys (Mike Martin, Jonas Mouton, and JT Floyd in particular) have a big year, it'll offset some of the losses.
Will Campbell wasn't in great shape when camp started. He's been playing himself into shape. Mike Martin and Adam Patterson are at NG, "if he wants to play he's gotta compete." Rodriguez wants senior Sagesse, Banks, and Patterson, to have their best years. They're having good camps. "Of course you've got Mike Martin up front too who's had an outstanding camp. I think he can have a great year at noseguard for us."
Moundros may be the starter at middle linebacker. Right now he's taking a lot of reps. Mark has at least seen the field, which gives him experience (even if it's at a different position). He has intangibles. He needs to learn technique and system, but he was able to do that mostly in the spring. He's made very few mental errors for being new to the position.
There are some potential answers in the secondary. "Coming from freshman class. "It's kind of scary when you think about true freshmen playing in the secondary, but there's some talent there." They're progressing well now that summer class is over and they can focus on football. 4-5 true freshman DBs will play this year.
Cam Gordon - "He didn't play as well as he had played in any other practice in the scrimmage," but he's had a good camp and the staff feels good about him.
JT Floyd will start at corner on one side. Other corner might be Jame Rogers, "this is the best football he's played," or young guys. Have to keep it simple for the youngsters.
Nothing's new at kicker; it's inconsistent day-to-day. Most days have been encouraging - yesterday was not one of those days. They've been practicing on the new turf in the stadium. It's unlikely that different kickers will be used depending on distance of the kick.
Yesterday was a scrimmage. The last three quarters of practice, only players, officials, and Rodriguez were on the field. Did every special team and offense v. defense. "Glad we did it, but we've gotta do it again." They'll do it again friday, less intense, and maybe a little tomorrow. "With so many young guys, especially on defense playing, we've gotta try to get them used to what it's going to be like in a game where there aren't coaches standing behind them or on the side of them telling them what to do." It's a different atmosphere then practice, with signaling plays, etc.
Troy Woolfolk had surgery yesterday. "Everything went well with the surgery. Certainly it looks like he's lost for the season." No reason why he can't be 100% next year, and Rodriguez thinks he wants to come back for a 5th year. "It's his decision, of course, but Troy loves football."
Have a good grasp on what the team can do. "Certainly offensively, we have a pretty good idea of where our strengths are. And I think defensively too, even with the young guys, it probably takes them a little bit longer to determine a young guy because they have not done it in a game." Some guys plays better in a game, some play too nervous.
Started installing for UConn at the beginning of camp. "Starting really yesterday, and certainly today, and a lot tomorrow and Friday, will be a lot of UConn installation in all three phases."