Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 10-18-10

Submitted by Tim on October 18th, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.



"This week is probably coming at a good time for some of those guys." Mike Martin and David Molk should be 100% with a week off. Mike Shaw's been limited in practice with a sprained knee, but should be fine.

Denard sprained something in his rotator cuff; it gets aggravated or sore when you fall on it. Worried about the big guys falling on him more than anything. He's not as hurt as Tate was last year, and should be good with a week off. "Hypothetically, we won't talk," but Denard would probably be good to start if there was a game this weekend. He's still the team's starter, despite Tate's solid play on Saturday.

On Fitzgerald Toussaint: "I'm optimistic he can practice this week."

Not sure how long Odoms will be out. "That's a tough blow because he was playing pretty good football." If he can return by the end of the year, he could play a bit.

Defensive personnel moves "Kenny Demens we thought played pretty well... He's played well enough that Obi will have to beat him out in practice over the next week and a half."

"Carvin Johnson we thought did some good things at Spur." With Mike Martin's injury, Adam Patterson got a chance to step up and he did well.

The Bye Week

No practice Monday-Tuesday (players are on fall break), but the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for sure.

Big recruiting week for the staff since they don't have a game. "Used to go out a lot on Fridays," but it's tough to get back from a HS game and be ready for a noon game the next day. Coaches are on the road recruiting today and tomorrow.

Get young guys a little better fundamentally. "We'll do a preliminary thing on Penn State as well, try to get a little bit of the game plan in."

No school today or tomorrow, get a break to refresh with no football either. The 12 or 13 true freshmen who have played maybe have hit a wall. Having a bit of a break might make them refreshed this week.

On the day off Saturday, RR will watch some film, maybe watch some future opponents' games. His son Rhett has a Pop Warner game on Sunday.


Tate came in and made some plays, brought a spark. Had some bad habits come back as well. WRs helped him out, but Michigan has three pretty good, young quarterbacks.

Molk - "I think he didn't feel real good in warmups." After a couple plays, he told the coaches he was unable to compete at the level he wanted to. High ankle sprain, but not a severe one.

The coaches have talked to the field goal defense team about recovering blocked FGs, obviously didn't cover that well enough with the kick team. There was too much penetration on the block, but the kick was a little low, too.

Rocko Khoury competed well. He battled hard. "We were worried about his snaps some... and there were 1 or 2 a little bit off..."

Lewan was a little jumpy. Partially nerves going against Clayborn. Part of his troubles may have been unfamiliarity with Khoury's snapping rhythm.

Turnovers. "I think we pressed a little bit at quarterback some." Don't have to throw it 30 yards when you only need 10. The QBs know right after it happens. "Vincent Smith's not a fumbler."

As poorly as the team played, they had a chance to tie up the game, just couldn't make it happen.

Personnel and Schemes

On offense, they need to fix execution issues that lead to turnovers. "On defense, certainly the same thing. The same issues with execution and making sure we do that." On ST, kicking and returns have been bad, other units solid. "We've got a couple guys I think could be pretty good returners, we just haven't given them a chance."

All QBs are unique "As a runner, Denard's probably closer to what Woody was with burst." Speed more like Pat White. Denard is still a young guy, he's going to keep getting better, as will the young pieces around him. Offense has evolved to be more run-heavy over the years. "The designed quarterback runs probably started with Woody Dantzler in the late 90s." Nowadays, so many people have some version of it, so there's more defensive creativity to stop it.

"We're a little more multiple. We're probably simpler formationally than a lot of teams." Oklahoma, Oregon, Cincinnati, other spread coaching staffs get together and bounce ideas off each other.

The defensive staff all knows the issues, "I think they've talked about it at length, I know they have because I've talked with them." The players still believe in it. The team is close to playing good defense outside of a couple plays a game "but those two plays count." Need to work on some basics defensively, tackling, getting off blocks, etc. Will work on understanding scheme, which helps guys play faster. At times, tackling has been OK.

"At the end of the last couple drives it wasn't good." More disappointed in the (in)ability to get off blocks. Guys won't be coming free on every play. "Some of that's strength... some if it is technique and being able to see the play, recognize the play, get off your block and make it."

"Some of the issue we have defensively... the only way to get experience is to get experience." Some first-year players can play like veterans, but freshmen are going to have "freshman moments." The goal as coaches is to limit the impact if guys have those moments.

"If I still aspire to call plays and be involved in offensive planning and special teams planning, there's only so much hours in the day." The defensive coaches have expertise and they can devote their time to it. "Vince Lombardi could come too, and that's not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense."

The defense has gotten its share of criticism, but 4-5 turnovers in the past couple games and special teams are both issues as well. "With all that being said, we still have moments that we're playing pretty well against a couple pretty good teams."

Floyd thrust in as the "experienced guy" when Troy went down. Troy was the leader of the group, and will be again when he comes back. "When you look at those guys... you gotta remember most guys, their colleagues that age are being redshirted."

Hagerup kicking better because he's not as nervous.

"This is a really close team, there's no finger-pointing or anything like that."

Defensive concerns might affect makeup of the recruiting class. "Where are your numbers offense/defense, where do we need more help." Make sure you're looking for a particular position, etc. "We're looking all over the country" for a kicker worthy of spending a scholarship on.


"No question" that having a player seriously injured on the field (like Rutgers lineman) is your worst nightmare. "That's certainly is something that's an inherent risk not just in our sport but in all sports, and you always worry about it."

Big Ten shaking out about as expected. "I think the reputation of our league is pretty good nationally this year. It should be." Quality of play throughout the depth of the league is good.

"The first two years were extreme disappointments." Inside the program, you can at least get an idea that the program is being built and the future is bright. "If nothing else I think we're fun to watch." WIshes that weren't the case sometimes.

Playing Alabama in 2012 - "Just looking at the road games... pretty tough road schedule." Denard will be a senior, some of the young guys on this year's team will be juniors, etc. "Our hesitation was giving up a home game to do that." The pros outweighed the cons. Can use the excitement of that future game for recruiting.

Haven't talked too much about other future OOC scheduling, because they don't know when the Big Ten schedules will be finalized.


Crime Reporter

October 18th, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

Hope that ankle sprain for Molk doesn't linger the rest of the season. I was pleased with Khoury, but we are going to need our leader on the OL going forward.

Also, I was not aware Denard was having shoulder problems. Might explain some of his hesitancy in the pocket when he could just take off for 7-10 yards.


October 18th, 2010 at 3:08 PM ^

Molk - "I think he didn't feel real good in warmups." After a couple plays, he told the coaches he was unable to compete at the level he wanted to. High ankle sprain, but not a severe one.

Knowing now that Khoury held up pretty well, I think its a nice job out of Molk and takes a different kind of toughness than what people normally celebrate to take yourself out when you know that the guy behind will be able to perform a bit better than you can in your injuried state.


October 18th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

Could you imagine being the coach of the Pop Warner team that RichRod's kid plays for?  Good grief, that would suck!  I'm sure RichRod is nice to the coach and remains hands-off - he of all people has an idea how much harder it makes your job to be second-guessed all the damn time - but it must suck to be trying to do your job with a far more qualified stakeholder watching over your shoulder.


October 18th, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

My brother played on the St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) baseball team when Mike Hargrove was the Indians coach.  Grover's son was a frosh on the varsity team.  His son wasn't a particularly good baseball player, but was likely given the nod due to his lineage -- but that was entirely on the coaching staff at Ignatius, rather than anything (either) Hargrove did.  Hargrove-the-Elder went to a fair amount of his son's baseball games; he stayed quiet, and although pretty much everyone on the Ignatius side (and probably a fair number of people in the other stands) knew who he was, they all typically left him alone.  It was obvious that was "be a dad" time for him, not "be a baseball manager".

(Yeah, I'm aware that Grover and Rodriguez have somewhat different levels of baseline intensity.)


October 18th, 2010 at 3:19 PM ^

He was. He was getting 20-25 yards, which is alright, but a couple of times Gallon got us to the 35 or 40 in this game. I also think he has become a larger part of our offense and they might not want to take the risk of him getting injured, because he can earn those extra 10 yards on the next play anyway.


October 18th, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

can't afford to have Stonum returning kicks because of the possible injury factor.  They need to keep Stonum healthy so they can have some depth at outside WR especially that Odoms is out for a while.  It's uncommon to see a starting player return kickoffs or punt return.

Blue boy johnson

October 18th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

The Vincent Smith is not a fumbler comment, is very interesting, and a big reason Vincent plays so much.

I do believe coaches hate fumbles more than fans. If a kid fumbles in practice the coaches  seem to be reluctant to play him in the game, causing rampant second guessing among the faithful.


October 18th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

seems like a good kid, hustles and plays hard but he gets destroyed when playing the nose. IMO, this is like the obi situation. when martin goes out, give big will the same chance you gave kenny. he can't possibly get manhandled as badly as patterson.


October 18th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

or at a minimum, since they're both bad, give will a chance to prove he may not be as bad as thought.  it's easy for a DT to turn a 1 yard play into a 7 yard play, but hard for him to turn a 7 yard play into a 20 yard play.  those distances in btwn are fairly inconsequential compared to seeing what will would do in game time PT, at least IMO.


October 18th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

Just due to him having about 40-50 lbs on Patterson. Simply an issue of making that line move more mass around since Iowa was not going to make the NT run all over the field. Patterson would be better against a more mobile line since I assume he can move better.


October 18th, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

WC got owned on our FG attempt..  He was completely pushed back and then i believe it was the guy that he was blocking that put his arm up after pushing WC back 5 yards and blocked the field goal.


WC was completely stood up there, when he should be the biggest guy on the field.


Not sure if that had to do with him not playing much after that or not

Yard Dog

October 18th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

I agree with jmscher.  Too many times you see guys trying to battle through the injury because of the toughness factor, when their backup could do a better job due to health issues.  I'm very interested to see how Khoury grades out in UFR.  From what I could see during the game, I thought he held his own, which gives me hope as to the depth that is being built.

Captain Obvious

October 18th, 2010 at 3:29 PM ^

fickle as some of our fans are regarding the QB situation.  He knows what he has in Denard Robinson.  The only time I want to see anyone else playing QB is if Denard is too hurt to continue playing.

October 18th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

I agree that I don't want to see a QB change that is contingent upon weekly performances - or even in-game performances. These younger quarter backs need to learn to handle the pressure and overcome obstacles - even if they are created by their own doing.

And I agree that it's only prudent with a clear injury, etc. Is there not also a situational potential need as well? For instance, might we also say that Tate could be better suited for a true hurry-up 2 minute drill type thing? If we're not running the ball at all, would you be opposed to seeing Tate come in then?

I've been opposed to the idea, but considering the objective of such an offense - move the ball with as little time coming off the clock as possible - that Tate might be the guy over Denard in that situation alone. Am I dead wrong?


October 18th, 2010 at 5:21 PM ^

If you look solely at the way Denard threw the ball BEFORE the last 2 weeks, would you still feel that way?     Maybe, maybe not.     But whether you feel either way about this question, the gap in your decision would not been as large as it may be today.... today after 2 sub par games.       

So really, the question is, why are such rash judgments being made after 2 sub par games?   Why are blanket statements and blanket conclusions being drawn after just 2 sub par games?  

Before the last 2 games, Denard was making every throw.... long, short, slants, you name it.   He was actually throwing the deep ball better than I have ever seen Tate throw the deep ball.   As Coach Rod said after the Indiana game regarding Denard's deep ball,  "his completion % on those deep throws is actually very good".   And Denard is still among the leaders in the nation in overall completion %.     

Denard is merely going through a slump right now.    Something that tends to happen with all young quarterbacks.    You have to stick with them and let them play their way out of it.


Captain Obvious

October 18th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

and maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think Tate can do a single thing that Denard can't do.  We saw in the first 5 games that Denard can make every throw on the field.  I don't think he lost that ability in these past 2 games--I think he was playing hurt.  I also think the "Tate = accuracy!" crowd is still leaning on high school stats (like Will Campbell supporters at this point in his career) and a performance against BGSU.  Denard's completion % > Tate's.

Meanwhile, Denard is the most explosive runner in the country.  Tate is simply not a threat to run.  This changes everything.

MI Expat NY

October 18th, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

Have you watched the last two seasons?  Tate is a much better passer right now, i'm not sure how this can be disputed.  You're right, Denard can make every throw Tate can, Tate just makes those throws more consistently.  

I don't think anyone is arguing for a wholesale change at QB.  The offense has a far higher maximum output with Denard in there, and I think he will close the gap as a passer every season.  But at this point in his development, I don't see a problem with a little situational replacement.  

As for the 2-minute drill argument above.  Lets clarify what we're talking about.  Against N.D. it was impressive drive, but we had 3:41 to do it in.  The run game was still a very viable threat.  Indiana was Indiana on defense and there was a 42 yard bomb on the drive.  Based on watching Tate for his whole career and Denard this season, Tate is the better option if we're going to have to pass our way down the field.


October 18th, 2010 at 4:35 PM ^

Based on watching Tate for his whole career and Denard this season, Tate is the better option if we're going to have to pass our way down the field.

I don't disagree with this statement. But given what we've seen out of Denard, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a situation where passing was the only (or even preferred) option.

(If Denard continues to stay more conservative and stops breaking 20-yard runs at will, I reserve the right to change my opinion)

MI Expat NY

October 18th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

If a team can contain Denard to 5-10 yards on every run, i.e. the last two weeks, I don't see how running the ball in the 2-minute drill is a viable option.  

I love our offense with Denard in there, but against Iowa, I don't think we would have had the slim chance that we did without playing Tate.


October 18th, 2010 at 6:12 PM ^

I think you and I simply have a difference in mindset -- I look at five games of "A" and two of "B" and assume "A" is the norm until proven otherwise; I'm guessing you look at one Big Ten game of "A" and two Big Ten games of "B" and (rightly) assume the opposite.

Fair enough; by the end of the season we'll know whether Denard has a ten-yard or four-yard average against the competition that matters.  I'd further imagine that we'd both prefer the former to be true, and are afraid the latter is.

Captain Obvious

October 18th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

when you discount everything Denard has done and forget the stats from last year.  Tate's completion percentage last year was 58.7%.  Denard's is 67.8% after 143 attempts.  So, it turns out Denard can and does make the throws Tate can and at a better rate, too.

And we don't count his comeback at ND because there was 3:41 on the clock, got it.  Makes perfect sense.

His ability to come back using the pass certainly can't be proved by throwing a long pass and winning the game against Indiana.  I mean, that's just obvious, right?

MI Expat NY

October 18th, 2010 at 5:31 PM ^

Why do you insist on taking this as a shot against Denard?  I'm extremely excited that he is/will be our starting QB for the next two and a half years.  But for god's sake man, use your eyes.  Stats don't tell the whole story, have we forgotten that a lot of the Pryor hype was based on him having the top passer efficiency rating in the conference as a freshman?  Denard has been very good about making the easy throws this season.  His legs create those throws.  That's why it's good offense.  In the last two weeks, we've seen that good defenses can force him to make tougher throws and seen results divergent from weeks 1-5.  When Tate is in there, the offense is based on his arm, meaning he has tougher throws.  It's why he isn't the best option as a #1 qb, but it is why he has a better skill set for when we absolutely HAVE to pass.  

I'm not dismissing the drive against Indiana to win the game.  It was impressive.  We won.  Yay!  But securing a win on a 42 yard bomb isn't exactly the prototypical 2-minute drill.  I'm not sure he can re-create that drive against a decent defense.

Much of this is academic, however.  If Tate hasn't played the whole game, I wouldn't want him to come in for the last two minutes.  And I'm not saying Rodriguez should platoon or use Tate in certain situations, I'm just saying that if he does, it could work.

Edit:  And I "disregarded" the ND drive, because 3:51 is plenty of time to run our base offense.  It's not a 2-minute drill drive.  I would want Denard in that situation again, because our offense is better with him.


October 18th, 2010 at 7:03 PM ^

The one common theme from the last 2 weeks is that both Iowa and MSU played two deep safeties and forced us to go the whole field to score.  Denard (maybe because of such quick-strike scoring drives in earlier games) didn't show the patience in either game to win.  He needs to accept that a 14 play, 80 yard drive that has a lot of 5 and six yard runs and safe passes and lasts 6+ minutes is just as good as a 2 play, 80 yard drive that lasts 27 seconds! Maybe even better, since it keeps our defense off the field.  Once he learns patience, he will truly be the great QB we all hope he will be.

MI Expat NY

October 18th, 2010 at 6:15 PM ^

One last point, and then i'm going to shut up on this issue (probably).  

At every other skill position, it is the norm for guys to come in and out of the game based on the situation.  Your stud WR comes out during short yardage plays.  Your beast of a running back might give way to a better receiving back on certain 3rd downs, or to a change of pace back like Clay and White at UW.  Sometimes guys come out simply because they need a breather.  Denard isn't your average QB.  We use him as a primary running threat.  It is the basis of our offense.  Is it really that big of a problem to substitute for him when a situation calls for it or simply for a change of pace?  There would still be no question that Denard is the best player on the team, but the occasional substitution might make for a better overall offense.  It's just a thought, and obviously one that has no bearing on what the coaching staff does.  

MI Expat NY

October 18th, 2010 at 6:28 PM ^

No, I'm not.  Just thinking outside the box.  Denard is awesome.  Tate ain't bad either.  There's a clear 1 and 2, but we're kidding ourselves if we think there aren't still some things Tate does better.  Hopefully, with continued progress by Denard, that will no longer be true.  Also, hopefully Denard proves the last two weeks where he was still pretty good were a "fluke" and he continues his unholy path of destruction for the rest of the season.  

If QB and continuity was so important, how come so many teams, nfl and college, are running the occasional "wildcat" look with a non-QB?  You appear to be the one living in the past.