Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 9-6-10

Submitted by Tim on September 6th, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Important News

  • Roy Roundtree and Carvin Johnson are doubtful for Notre Dame
  • Second-team FS/holder Jared Van Slyke (a walkon) is out for the year.
  • Junior Hemingway is expected back.
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint may or may not play against ND.

UConn Game

After the game, Rodriguez got to spend time with Brock's family, and before, he saw the end of Brock's walk.

Managing from execution standpoint first thing you want. Can run the ball and get first downs, not as necessary to throw downfield for big plays. Can block downfield better. Consistency in blocking need to improve the most. Guys were in the right place, but didn't sustain blocks, or didn't get downfield. Didn't get downfield as well as we're capable. On D - just lost contain a couple times. Special teams were very average. KOR and KO units were below average.

Worked so hard on the passing game because they knew UConn was going to bring safeties down to help against the run. "Watching the film, we played hard, we played well at at times, and we took care of the football offensively." Can still execute a lot better on O. Not having big plays on offense gave the defense rest with long drives, but Rodriguez would prefer to execute well enough to get the big plays.

On Denard: "He graded out relatively high. He made a few mistakes, which you would expect in his first game as a starter." Made a couple negative-yardage plays. You rarely see a first-time starter command the game like he did.

Shaw and Smith: "They ran better than they blocked." Usually they're better blockers. Wish they could get back the negative-yardage plays. The other backs need to prove themselves better in practice to play.

Pretty much satisfied with the offensive line play. Liked the effort. No "high grades" on the OL - partially because it's tougher to grade out well with Coach Frey. "A couple guys didn't play nearly as well as we thought they would," both at the point of attack and on the second level, but they were solid as a group.

The defense had a few plays they'd like to have back. "We got what we thought we'd get." ND will be a bigger challenge than UConn. Tackled pretty well, only a few missed assignments.

Muffed punts - "This year is this year, last year is last year." It was Gallon's first game action, and it came on a windy day with a tough punt. "He'll be fine. I have no concerns whatsoever." Not worried about kickers' performances in the wind. Drew Dileo mishandled the missed extra point.


Roy Roundtree is listed as doubtful with internal bruising, they'll re-check him later in the week. Carvin Johnson is "very doubtful" with a sprained knee. Junior Hemingway should be able to go, but they won't know until later this week.

Still concerned with youth of team. Guys will get beat up. The outside people have been saying whatever "You go in our building, it's been a little bit different the whole time."

Denard - "He's a pretty humble guy anyway. I'll talk to him about staying humble. I think that's in his nature anyway." Just one bad day away from being a goat. Positive press is like poison - it's OK as long as you don't swallow it. He needs to trust timing and progression before he takes off. He has been getting better at that, and did very well Saturday.

Denard was sharp - "My concern coming in was the wind more than anything else." Biggest thing was where his eyes were going to be. If their eyes are in the right place, they'll make the right decision. "He's smart enough to figure out that hey, you're just one bad play away from everybody saying 'you can't do this' or 'you can't do that'." Guys know it's a big stage.

"You could sense earlier on that [Denard] is a guy who, not only does he have the physical abilities, but he has the type of mental makeup you'd like to have at the position." It all comes with learning. Denard and Tate will still have some mistakes, have growing to do, but they have bright futures. "I'm always concerned with our players' concerns. That's what coaches do." It's a team game, not an individual game. TV may try to sensationalize something.

Is Rodriguez concerned about Tate? "Why? Is there a reason to? Oh." Coach wasn't making a big issue out of it - TV was. It's no surprise that he's disappointed to not play. "I want all my players to be happy all the time. Inevitably, 110 of them probably won't be. If we win, you expect most of them to be happy or fake it. I don't blame guys for being unhappy if they don't play. That's human nature." RR will talk to the QBs, "There shouldn't be any problems... If he crosses the line as far as being a team player, we'll worry about that."

Devin - "We think that Devin has proven that he's ready to play." He's at the point where he'll help win games this year.

Probably could have repped more OL in the game. Players have to give the staff confidence that they'll be able to execute.

Obi - "Yeah, I thought he played pretty well. I really did." Jonas Mouton and Mark Moundros played well, too.

Young DBs have been getting a lot of reps, they have to "grow up in a hurry." They'll have great futures, just need to get them ready. Pleased with play of Floyd and Rogers. "JT's continued his performance. We think he's been pretty good all camp." Team is thin in secondary, esp. losing Carvin Johnson. Put the next guy in and see what happens. Thomas Gordon played well, Floyd Simmons will get some play "We have a lot of confidence in Floyd."

Competition at PK is still ongoing.

Notre Dame

Brian Kelly's scheme - "There's a lot of similarities. Studying them and studying us, every spread has a little different emphasis at certain times." RR's spread is a bit more run nowadays. Cincy pass, now at ND looks like he'll mix it up a bit. They'll study last year's ND film for personnel, but coaching staff is new so have to see what those guys did at previous stops. Both teams will run a bit of stuff that they didn't last week. Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph are big weapons, but they have talented RBs and QB as well. Have to tackle well in space against ND. "If we can't get 'em on the ground, and we can't cover 'em..."

ND 3-4 look, sometimes 4-man front. "Everybody's multiple defensively. nobody runs one front and run coverage anymore." They brought some pressure, but mostly worked to contain Purdue's players last week.

RR has only played Kelly one time. Played at Cincy in 2007. Dews worked with Kelly for a year at Central, so there's some familiarity there. He's had great success. They have a lot of talent. They recruit nationally, even if they haven't been pleased with the record the past few years.

ND - "I'm sure their players and our players understand it's a rivalry." This is the first rivalry game each season. A section of West Mich is always asking about ND. New coach, lots of excitement.

At ND Stadium "They are very passionate about football. Every seat will be taken. Theyr'e into the game. It's a very intimate setting." Always seems to be raining when RR goes there "The grass is high - because of the rain, I guess." Younger players - "We've got to get them to grow up in a hurry." Have to learn to keep your poise, and have a sense of maturity on the road. 25 or 26 guys on the travel squad for their first road trip.

Noise is biggest challenge "We'll crank it up this week, and try to get our skill guys offensively to get used to the crowd noise." Very crisp against UConn, doesn't expect any against ND.

Keys to winning: 1) take care of the football. Lost the game with that last time at ND. 2) Understand you'll face adversity - they'll make plays. 3) Don't give up big plays, because they have big play talent. 4) Make big plays offensively ourselves.

It helps to have Division-1 experience when you start coaching at a bigtime institution. "It's invaluable coaching at the small-school level." You have to worry about all the details of running the program. Have to learn very quickly from a recruiting and teaching standpoint. "Sometimes you have to get creative." Try new things, which will be innovative at the higher levels. Rodriguez and Kelly are both familiar with that.



September 6th, 2010 at 1:27 PM ^

One of Denard's only mistakes yesterday was damn near getting Roundtree killed. Sad to see he'll be out. I was hoping he just got the wind knocked out of him.

Sounds like he's trying to keep the team humble ahead of ND. Wary of last year's start.

I agree with him that Denard seems like a very humble guy. Every time I see him around campus he's always smiling. Seems like a nice guy who is VERY indebted to Rodriguez for giving him a shot at QB when no other big program would and obviously coaching him very well (along with the rest of the staff).

SC Wolverine

September 6th, 2010 at 7:35 PM ^

I think RR handles questions like these very well.  The press is trying to make a big deal of something, and RR just gives a matter-of-fact, completely reasonable answer.  This is one of many things I really like about RR -- he helps the kids keep their heads on straight and focus on the right things.


September 6th, 2010 at 2:33 PM ^

last week; that's a rivalry game for them, not some cupcake team to scrimmage against. I'm sure they didn't tip their hand with respect to us, but I'm sure they ran plenty of plays that they'll run this Saturday against us.

Blue boy johnson

September 6th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

I agree with RR, we are going to have to have some big plays to win at ND. Shaw and Stonum in particular have big play capability, hope to see it on display on 9-11.

I also like the fact that RR wasn't particularly pleased with the blocking in general and the O-line in particular. Geez, if we get better blocking going on, this team will have more swag than the Fab Five.


September 6th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

I'm very pleased that the offensive line was said to not grade out well.  I thought they played great, but RR knows what to expect more then we do so i'll take his word for it.  If the offensive line plays better against ND I don't know how they'll stop us.  I'm hoping for a speedy recovery from Roy Roundtree, but it is a good thing that we have so many receivers able and willing to come in and step up.  I'm definitely hoping to see Fitz get a couple of carries as long as he earns it in practice.  I believe his shiftyness is something that can really help the RB's. 

As for ND.  I watched the tape and I wasn't blown away by anything they did.  On defense they tackled really well, but really it was mostly Armando(SP?) Allen that won that game for them.  Containing Allen will be a big challenge, but stopping UConns Jordan Toddman has already given us a little practice against a great back.  We have to be aware of Kyle Rudolph and Floyd at all times.  Limiting their touches will go a long way toward a big win.  I think our guys are ready, hungry, willing, and able to go into ND and come out with a W.  GO BLUE


September 6th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

...this comment:

"The grass is high - because of the rain, I guess."

Expect the grass to be ankle high in an attempt to neutralize Michigan's team speed.