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."
- 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.