Rich Rodriguez Presser 8-9-10 Comment Count

Tim August 9th, 2010 at 9:39 PM


Rich Rodriguez met with the media tonight following the first day of fall camp. If you want the full audio, you can check out MVictors, but I've pulled out the important points below. The above photo comes courtesy of Bruce Madej. Your humbe blogger is just out of the frame to the left.


  • Vincent Smith, David Molk, and Mike Martin were all in practice today. The only guy who was out for the spring that's still out is Will Heininger. Smith did not seem to be favoring his knee.
  • A couple guys missed some team meetings today with summer school obligations. Those were mostly freshmen, but a couple upperclassmen as well. Michael Shaw was among those guys. There are a couple days next week before summer school is completely over.
  • No word on who took the first snap at QB today, but "all three guys are competing." Denard and Tate have a bit of experience, but Devin is in great shape and wants to compete. In camp, they'll limit QB contact in order to avoid injury. If a quarterback separates himself from the pack, he'll be the starter. Tate is competitive, and will work for the job. Tate, Denard, and Devin all had good moments today.
  • There's enough experience and talent at running back to win some games. Vincent Smith, Michael Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint were singled out. Stephen Hopkins should be able to fit the "big back" role that they're losing with the graduation of Brandon Minor. Kelvin Grady is playing both slot and running back. He's a full-time football player now.
  • The offensive line is bigger and stronger up front. The idea that RR offenses only want little guys is inaccurate - as long as a player can move, bigger is better. Experience will help the OL be better - and it will allow them to install more of the offense much more quickly. There was only one bad snap from the centers today.
  • The offensive and defensive lines look good (RR said Will Campbell looked "OK" before saying he didn't want to answer any more questions on individuals). There were no pads today, so it's too early to say how they'll be, but they look physical up front. The young offensive line is growing up, and this should be a deeper team up front.
  • Young guys (even true freshmen) will have a chance to contribute at safety and corner. It will probably be tougher for D-linemen to contribute this season - but we'll know more once they're in pads.
  • Within two weeks of practice, they should have a good idea of which freshmen will be able to contribute in the fall. The first full scrimmage in two weeks is a key to that: "The pads answer a few questions." This is a fast freshman class - including the guys up front. On top of that, they didn't make any big mistakes today - they're a bright group.
  • "Will Hagerup will be what we thought." He's got a powerful leg and is a good athlete. He should be the starting punter.

Team and Schemes

  • The team on the whole looks to be in pretty good shape. Some players are in very good shape, some are only in OK shape, and some are not physically ready for Division-1 football. "Goal and expectation" is to get everybody in very good shape. The expectations for freshmen aren't as high from a conditioning standpoint, but they were helped by making it in for summer school. Nobody that could be considered an "impact player" would ever show up to camp out of shape. The coaches ran a conditioning test at the end of practice, and there's just a handful of guys that are not ready.
  • The team will practice in pads on Friday, and Sunday will be the first 2-a-day.
  • This team has the ability to be faster than last year's team. The speed will be aided by players not having to think too much. The coaches might have tried to work on schemes a little too much today, causing the players to not play quite as fast.
  • It's too early to compare the overall talent level of this team to the 2008 or 2009 teams. What this team does have is more guys who can contribute, particularly on defense.
  • Practice is probably the best time to be a coach. It's good to be on the field teaching guys. The team is full of guys eager to learn.
  • The continuity at defensive coordinator means everyone is already used to the scheme and personality. Guys being in the program for a few years also helps: They don't have to explain the process of practice to guys, and can worry about teaching football.
  • They've been fortunate to be able to grant scholarships to some walkons each year Rodriguez has been here. They have a couple extra scholarships this year, but they don't like to announce which walkons receive scholarships because it makes the other guys feel unimportant. Earning the scholarship "is not the end of your goals, it's just the start."
  • You know a program is improving when you are able to play poorly and win. Michigan obviously isn't there yet.


  • When asked specifically about Woolfolk's comments on Tate: "I'm glad our seniors are taking some ownership and leadership in this team. They want everyone to work as hard as they have." When asked again, RR said it's good to see the seniors take ownership of this team (which sounds to me like a sign he doesn't think Woolfolk really did anything wrong). Everyone in the program ants to succeed, and they deserve a chance to enjoy their final season.
  • Rodriguez can sense the senior leadership on this team. They've had player meetings, and come over to his house as a group, etc. They will be vocal leaders (moreso than last year), and they know they have something to prove.
  • There will be two permanent captains for this team, and they've been announced: OL Stephen Schilling and LB Mark Moundros. On top of that, there will be two game captains for each contest "if they're worthy, which I think we'll have."

Other Stuff

  • When asked specifically about the West Virginia notice of allegations: "I'm talking about Michigan football."
  • It's the head coach's job to handle outside distractions. As for the players, "they handle what's going on in Schembechler Hall." Players worry about getting their Michigan degree and winning football games. Michigan, the football program, and RR's family form a great support system that's helping Rodriguez handle the pressure of outside distractions.
  • In regards to a certain report about a 2012 game against Alabama - "I believe those conversations are ongoing." When asked about what it might mean, Rodriguez remarked, "Ya'll tell me, do you think that would be fun?"
  • Rodriguez would prefer that the players don't use Twitter and other social media, but if they like it, they can. It's the job of the football coaches and athletic staff to educate them, and remind them that they're not only representing themselves, but also the university.
  • The phrase "winning cures all" is accurate, because it puts the attention onto the game, instead of other stuff. "Let's just limit the drama. Let's just keep the main thing the main thing."
  • Rodriguez is strictly coaching this week. He'll worry about the NCAA hearing on the flight out there, and then it's back to coaching on Sunday.
  • Rodriguez saw Brock Mealer walking today. When the team has their "beanie scrimmage" in the Big House, Brock will practice running through the tunnel.
  • There's no real added sense of urgency to this season. Rodriguez has had a sense of urgency ever since he's been coaching - even as an assistant.
  • When asked specifically about Ron English's comments from earlier this week, Rodriguez responded that they don't pigeonhole recruitable prospects on the basis of their economic status or family upbringing. Anyone you recruit must be committed on and off the field.



August 9th, 2010 at 9:52 PM ^

He twice said that there were some players who weren't in the shape needed to play Division 1 football. Now, if you say something like that once, it can be thought of as coach speak. He didn't say "They're not where we want them to be". He said that if they stayed how they were, they wouldn't be wearing a winged helmet come September 4th. But then, twice wouldn't elaborate the comments, except to imply that these said players weren't freshmen. ANy thoughts? I was floored. It seemed like RichRod was walking into this Fall practice with a very noticeable no-nonsense attitude illustrated in the press conference.


August 9th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

I think the guys know who they are, and Rich is sending a message that they need to bust their asses in camp to get in shape. He did say that hopefully everyone can get into great shape by the end of camp, which makes it sound like a realistic goal for everyone.


August 9th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

I also was surprised by RR's statement that "...they wouldn't be wearing a winged helmet come September 4th." Would RR actually kick a player off the team for not being in adequate playing shape? That seems a tad excessive,  IF TRUE.


August 10th, 2010 at 10:30 AM ^

I know that Bo required all players on his team to run the mile in a certain amount of time and their were a couple (maybe Brandstatter or Dierdoff, but can't remember) linemen who hadn't done it and were possibly not going to be able to dress for the season. Luckily with the support of the rest of the team, they were able to perform the feat. I see a lot of similarities, at least in conditioning philisophies, between RR and Bo. Now we just need RR to replicate the success. I think it happens this year.

Blue in Seattle

August 10th, 2010 at 11:34 AM ^

That was only in Bo's first year, when he was challenging the team to get in shape.  I've lost my copy of that book, but Bo describes it in the context of, "I almost screwed myself".

Basically he came up with a time running the mile that everyone on the team had to beat by the end of camp, or not suit up for the season.  After he saw that the offensive lineman were killing themselves to beat the time, but still failing, he was kind of caught.  Thinking, "do I go back on my word and lose a little edge with these guys, or do I stick to what I said and prevent players who have clearly worked hard from playing the season?"

As it ended up, (and granted this is Bo talking about himself, so grains of salt and all) during the last chance to be timed the entire team was out on the track cheering on the offensive lineman, who then all successfully beat the required time.

Bo concludes with the statement of how amazed he was that the people who stayed on the team had bonded so well, and demonstrated leadership and commitment.

For myself, I think everyone forgets how young of a coach Bo was when he took the Michigan Head Coaching job in 1969.  Thank god Twitter didn't exist.


August 9th, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

Seems really positive about the leadership, attitude and work ethic of this group. That bodes well for the season. I hope this vibe is correct. This season cannot begin soon enough. Go Blue.


August 10th, 2010 at 10:02 AM ^

I still remember that night. I was at my grandparent's just 5 minutes away from where the accident happened. It's pretty amazing that Elliot, Brock and the rest of their family is so strong after what they went through. We are all rooting for you Elliot and Brock! Can't wait to see you lead us out the tunnel September 4 against UConn.


August 9th, 2010 at 10:01 PM ^

Uh, oh. Grammer Nazis, Unite!

Someone needs to inform RR (or more likely, the person who tweets for him) of the differences between "there" and "their".


August 9th, 2010 at 10:21 PM ^

Mike Rothstein asked SID Dave Ablauf about it after the press conference. The response was a brief "we stopped that halfway through last year, and that policy will continue" or something along those lines.

Upon further review, it was actually Greg of MVictors.


August 9th, 2010 at 10:06 PM ^

This is the kind of stuff you want to hear about your program, and I'm not that worried about the whole "fitness" issue with some guys - that sounds like coach-speak to me that every guy needs to keep pushing himself and not slack off.  Yes, Campbell being only "Ok" is troubling, but he's also a huge kid who may follow Brandon Graham's trajectory of a little overweight early on then becoming a beast.

Good to hear the team has a punter, and the praise for the offensive line is reassuring, since the ability of that group will likely have the biggest impact on this team's success on the offensive end (if not the team overall).

I still think RR is underplaying a bit what Woolfolk said, but obviously he knows more about this team and if he doesn't think the language caused a stir, I'll take him at his word.  Sounds like Tate certainly took it to heart.


August 10th, 2010 at 12:19 AM ^

... put trust in his senior leader.  Because if Woolfolk said it so clearly, the whole team must have thought it.  The worst thing for RR to do was backtrack on something the whole team probably felt.  Besides, stick with the story and the story goes away.  Only way to stoke the flames is to back track or question Woolfolk.


August 9th, 2010 at 10:07 PM ^

...Tim.  Really appreciate how rapidly you posted this. 

Were there any interesting conversations among the assembled press that you overheard or took part in (that you can synopsize to protect the utterer)?


August 10th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

I took it seriously. I thought it was funny because some dude was mistaking Tim for Brian's post claim. (All those MGoBloggers..they look alike.....or..there are more than one?!?!).  If it's wrong, well, oops, I guess.  But if it's right...MSM got scooped again.