Monday Presser Notes 11-9

Submitted by Tim on November 9th, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Rich Rodriguez:

  • Injuries: Brandon Minor's ankle injury is ongoing, and now he has a bruised shoulder as well. Junior Hemingway has a back bruise and was limited against Purdue. Martavious Odoms is still day-to-day, he hasn't progressed that well. Perry Dorrestein is getting better. Carlos was limited against Purdue because he missed the week of practice with tendinitis.
  • Personnel notes: Brandon Minor gives the team a completely different dimension because he is able to break tackles and run downhill. Without him, the offense isn't as good. Patrick Omameh played pretty well, especially for his first start. He has some technical things to improve, but he played hard and was physical. Tate had a few missed reads and bad decisions, but didn't play poorly. JB Fitzgerald graded out OK. Rich doesn't know who will start on defense this week,because nobody on the defense graded out at a championship level. Olesnavage should be fine mentally - it was his first extra point miss of the year. Brandon Smith is moving around trying to find a position. He's at safety now, though his future might be at linebacker. The coaches wanted to get Denard in the game more, but didn't want to disrupt Tate's rhythm.
  • The defense plays well in practice, but seems to be clueless in games. For players to think that is "disheartening" for Rodriguez. He thinks the lay well, but for a few big mistakes. On both big pass plays (excluding the one to the RB, I assume), the player in man coverage just let his eyes get off his man for a second.
  • The offense didn't seem to be that different from first to second half. Purdue made a couple adjustments, and there were some execution errors, but other than that it wasn't bad. The second half collapses of late have been a result of just needing to play better. There isn't a lot of time at halftime to attribute the difference to "halftime adjustments." The team needs to mature mentally and show resiliency. They should be mentally mature enough at this point in the season. Rich was more disappointed with the resiliency against Illinios than he was this week.
  • Purdue's onside kick was a very good call and executed to perfection. Michigan needs to be more prepared for that.
  • The decision to go for it on fourth down was never reconsidered. It wasn't an issue of whether the coaches thought they could score again if they kicked the field goal, but a matter of stopping Purdue to get the ball back.
  • Against Wisconsin, the team needs to just play. Don't worry about outside factors (though bowl eligibility may be motivation), or the surroundings just play football. They're a big physical team, and Clay will definitely be the biggest back that the defense has seen all year.
  • There are only 70 or 71 recruited scholarship players on the roster this year. It will take 2-3 recruiting classes to get the numbers up, and have the ability to let younger guys wait their turn. Players like Justin Turner and Thomas Gordon will be good players in the future.
  • Boise State never approached Michigan about playing each other in 2010. Rodriguez thinks the schedule is probably set for the next couple years, but Boise is a possibility 4-5 years down the road.

Roy Roundtree

  • His decomitment from Purdue gave the Boilermaker players a lot to talk about all day. They were constantly talking to him, but he's not a talker, and didn't respond. Torri Williams was his recruiting host for Purdue, and Roundtree broke Williams's tackle on his touchdown reception.
  • Martavious Odoms is a helpful teammate to Roundtree. They get to go against each other as competition in practice, but that doesn't mean Odoms won't give Roy tips on how to improve his game.
  • Roundtree's strength and conditioning has come a long way since he first arrived. He was a laughingstock when he first arrived, but now his teammates appreciate how far he's come.
  • Tate is just a freshman, so ups and downs are to be expected. He's currently on a bit of a down cycle, but will be ready for Wisconsin.


  • Feels pretty healthy. His shoulder should be fine. The knee injury was just a slight twist, he'll wear a sleeve but no brace over it for the rest of the season. He expected to get a little banged up during the season, especially because his body isn't fully developed yet.
  • Past games are in the past, and the team can't worry about them anymore. They need to focus on the future, and beat Wisconsin to get the seniors to a bowl game. Lots of the seniors are from Jason's class, so Tate knows them.
  • The second half letdowns have been partially because the team comes out flat. There's no real explanation for it, but it's visible on film. They are pumped at the start of the game, but the leaders need to remind everyone to do the same for the second half.
  • The defense is playing well, except for a couple critical mistakes. The offense hasn't helped at times, putting them in bad situations with turnovers. Having a new defensive coordinator makes it hard for them to achieve consistency.
  • Tate feels he's been making too many freshman mistakes. He can't do that and expect the team to still win. The game has finally started slowing down for him (he noticed it against Illinois). He just needs to not make mistakes and get the ball to his athletes.

Troy Woolfolk

  • The second half struggles shouldn't be an indication that the defense isn't good. Sometimes people are just pressing too hard to make things happen. He's not sure if the deficiencies are mental or physical. Sometimes, when the opposing offense has success, it feels like the defense didn't prepare well, even though Troy knows that's not the case. they just need to focus and get it done.
  • Greg Robinson is a calm coach, and he's been successful in a bunch of places. Troy feels like last year's defense was bad because the schemes simply weren't working. This year, it's a good defense with too many execution errors at times.
  • With a young defense, Obi Ezeh and Donovan Warren are the players who will get on guys when they make a mistake. Warren is a very passionate player, though it usually isn't displayed like it was on Saturday unless things are going very well or very poorly.
  • Going to a bowl would be an accomplishment for this team. If they don't go to a bowl, they can't be too disappointed with their progress, because they've still improved the record from last year. Goal #1 is to beat Ohio State, and they want to beat Wisconsin as well. Troy can't wait to get into the atmosphere of Camp Randall and play.



November 9th, 2009 at 12:57 PM ^

Brian says that pressers mean nothing unless there is face slapping involved. I think that means this series is to be discontinued under "What-Brian-Says-Is-Law".



November 9th, 2009 at 1:12 PM ^

We were promised another otter last week in the event of a loss. Thus far, no otter has been forthcoming. I, on behalf of our ennui soaked fan base, hereby request another otter picture, preferably with some kittens.


November 9th, 2009 at 1:14 PM ^


"If they don't go to a bowl, they can't be too disappointed with their progress"

Does anyone else find this bothersome or am I overreacting?

If they don't make it to a bowl, I think that's a huge disappointment because 6-6 was a reasonable expectation for this team.

The Original Seth

November 9th, 2009 at 1:25 PM ^

I mean, it's disappointing if you're a fan.
If you're a player, I'd imagine you have specific things you want to have happen, but are realistic enough to see that sometimes it won't work out. The alternative to hating yourself and being convinced you're no good is recognizing progress where there is some (and there's a lot of it, everywhere except in the W/L column).

And yeah, yeah, "that's what losers think like." This team's a loser right now. And will remain a loser until it wins.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 9th, 2009 at 1:27 PM ^

but this may be the coaches trying to take some of the pressure off of the players. It could be that the players are getting so caught up in the "we need to get to a bowl game" thing that they are just losing focus and putting way too much pressure on themselves, causing them to play worse than normal.

If the coaches tell them that isn't the main goal....that the main goal was to improve (and reinforce to the players that they have already done that) than it could relieve some of the pressure they are putting on themselves and result in a much more loose performance the next couple of games.

That is all speculations on my part, but could be what is going on here. I just pray a bowl is forthcoming.

J. Lichty

November 9th, 2009 at 1:40 PM ^

from the beginning of the year- and apart from the Illinois game - i kind of think that this team is about where I thought it would be.

They have lost more tossup games than they have won - thus the results being closer to the worst case scenario.

I think what has exacerbated this is that the offense has shown glimpses of being really better than we expected, especially early on, and the defense is still, while not great on a down to down basis, mostly being plaugued by huge Stevie Brown level breakdowns which have led to easy scores for the opposition.

I think in general, feelings of optimism were based upon (1) we would not shoot ourselves in the foot offensively with an alarming regularity, (2) we couldnt give up that many big plays on defense and thus even if we were not great on a down to down basis, we would make enough stops to make us competitive.

For the most part those two premises have not held during big ten play.


November 9th, 2009 at 1:47 PM ^

Thanks Troy. I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. If we finish with a worse record in the Big 10 than we did last year, I don't see this as progress. With 1 win in the Big 10, I would say we have regressed based solely on win/loss record alone. Of course it looks like we have made progress on offense, but until that translates to lots more wins in the Big 10, I can't imagaine it is true that Troy Woolfolk is "not [too] disappointed" because they have a better overall record than last year.

Huntington Wolverine

November 9th, 2009 at 3:03 PM ^

A lot of folks have pointed out that this year's defense is statistically comparable to last year's defense and that's why I'm impressed with what Robinson has been able to do. He's accomplished what Shafer did without the experience and talent Shafer had (see Tim's post above).

Not to say I'm satisfied in the least with where it's at but it gives me hope that Robinson will develop and utilize players better (not to mention that he seems to gel with the other coaches better). We could end up with a scary good defense in a few years if we sow up those 4-5 recruits on defense that we're all hoping for.


November 9th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

If we lose both of the last two games (something that seems increasingly likely), the amount of progess made this season is kind of, sort of, almost undeniably negligible. We can now beat MAC squads and Delaware state (instead of Utah) and added a W over an ND team we should have beaten last year, were it not for yakety sax. While this is certainly "improvement" and/or "progress", a 1-5 record in the Big Ten is disconcerting and indicative of the fact that the distance this team has traveled since last year is smaller than we all hoped for. If we go 6-6 or 7-5 (two results that ARE a possibility based on prior performance) then we can talk about progress. Right now we're just last year's team with a much improved offense, possibly the worst defense Michigan has ever fielded and an easier schedule.

los barcos

November 9th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

2 nfl draft picks but IIRC none before the fourth round, and one was morgan trent who has been vilified on this blog for his entire career.

i think the offense has shown signs of improvement, but on the aggregate not as much improvement as many wanted to see. (by this i mean, they have a higher average of points but are still plagued by turnovers and devastating dry spouts of 3 and outs)

also, i think if we finish with a WORSE big ten record, that doesnt show me we've necessarily "improved"


November 9th, 2009 at 2:22 PM ^

I guess it shouldn't surprise me given Hope's handshake antics, but I cannot understand why Purdue players were bagging on Roundtree all game. He chose a different school; get over it. Purdue is quickly joining MSU in terms of inferiority complexes.

As for Woolfolk's statement that he believes the team has progressed even if they don't make a bowl game, I suspect that is partially true. Last year, the team was getting creamed most weeks and seemed lost. Right now, the team has an offensive identity and a defense that is still finding its way. They still have 5 wins, and that is a major improvement over last year.

At the same time, though, I'm sure it bugs him to not be 7-3 or 6-4 right now. These guys obviously want to compete for a title, and came to UM expecting to win. To be part of the worst 2-year stretch in school history probably doesn't sit well with most of them.


November 9th, 2009 at 5:05 PM ^

I know, but I also remember Purdue nabbing some commits right at the signing deadline. Kids change their minds, and while I'm sure it is a little annoying for the coaching staff, I think the players should focus more on winning the game and less on verbal sparring. For all of Purdue's resurgence in recent weeks, they are still longshots to even make a bowl game.

Dan Man

November 9th, 2009 at 2:34 PM ^

I was a little confused by "The defense plays well in practice, but seems to be clueless in games. For players to think that is "disheartening" for Rodriguez. He thinks the lay well, but for a few big mistakes."

For players to think what? And that last sentence? Could you clarify at all?


November 9th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

There is obviously some sort of offensive bitching about the effort on the field on defense, or defensive bitching about some other defenders.

He thinks they play well, but for a few big mistakes. Two typos made that confusing.


November 9th, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

Hey, I remember how I felt about Michigan in 2007. Four consecutive losses to OSU. Three straight bowl losses. The general humiliation of OSU in the BCS game after they beat us in 2006. The Horror, Oregon.

Was there anyone paying attention who didn't think our pounding running and deep-throwing style of football was dead? We weren't even the best at it (OSU was) and they got killed by Florida in the BCS title game.

I wanted M to take the necessary risk and pay the necessary price to have a modern competitive team. We are doing that! It turns out to be a harder task than I thought it would be, but not because of any failures of RR. This team could have a better record, but they certainly weren't destined for a great year. They just don't have enough talent and experience.

Does anyone out there really think that trying to out-Tressel Tressel with Mallett and the fading M defense was gonna work out? That would have been real despair.

I think M took the risk and went for the big leap. We can get there, but it definitely won't happen if we bail out now. No way, no how.