UConn Postgame Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on September 5th, 2010 at 10:11 AM

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Rich Rodriguez

"Obviously, I'm pleased with the victory." The stats were pleasant, though maybe not a surprise. The only penalty in the game came on the first drive, and there were no turnovers in the game. Third down conversions were pretty good at 14/19. "Our goal offensively was no turnovers and execute, and I think we did that for the most part."

At the last team meeting last night, Rodriguez could tell that the team was ready to get out there and play.

"We were halfway down the tunnel" for Brock's walk. It was a touching moment because they know the whole story.

"When they announced 113 thousand - I normally don't pay attention, but by that time the game was pretty much under control" Rodriguez thought it was amazing to have that many fans at the game.

RR didn't realize Denard ran the ball 29 times. He was really sharp passing, with only three incompletions. There are a few things that he can fix after watching film, but his decision-making was great for a guy in his first start. Denard and the rest of the backs did a great job running North and South instead of moving around laterally.

Denard showed a lot of toughness, and he'll only keep getting stronger as he grows. Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith showed toughness as well. "It's a good physical team we played, and UConn's gonna win a lot of games this year." Is there anything about Denard that reminds Rodriguez of Pat White? "Yeah, he runs fast." He also has a sense of feel for the game, and maturity. "If he can carry it 29 times for 200 yards, he'll carry it 29 times again." He probably won't be able to carry that many times so effectively in every game. Rodriguez would like him to carry it a little bit less.

Denard has been showing his potential since the Wolverines recruited him. "That's why we signed him." In the spring, he took another step forward. His experience last year helped, but spring practice helped him understand. "He'll hit some bumps in the road, and he's going to play against a lot of good people, and there's going to be mistakes made." The key is minimizing those mistakes.

"I knew, most of the guys knew, and I don't think it was probably a big secret" that Denard would be the starter. The goal in practice is to get all three guys better, and they've done that. In fall camp, Denard solidified himself as the guy who should take the first reps.

"Part of it is just going from a true freshman to second-year player, and understanding the offense." All the QBs can make all the throws they need.

Will Denard start against Notre Dame? "Stay tuned. I think you'll see him starting."

Devin came in after Denard's injury "Because that was a coaches' decision."

If the team doesn't turn over the ball, they'll have a chance to win. They haven't held onto it in the past, so the key is to take care of it this year.

The wind was a big factor in the game. "I think it was a factor somewhat, particularly in the kicking game."

"I felt, from the first series, on that long drive, that we had some fast guys in the space that they may have problems with."

"I will enjoy the next three hours and ten minutes. Try to get me five hours of sleep tonight, and my wife will probably get a chance to sleep a bit tonight." The program has been through a lot, but the focus has never wavered. They have tonight to enjoy the win, but after that, it's Notre Dame time.

After last year's disappointing finish, it was important to start the season on the right foot. "I want our guys to get some confidence." The key now is to maintain the level of intensity.

The defense played hard and tackled well. "We gave up a couple big plays, the one on the tipped pass that the guy made a good play on." The defense had to be ready, because UConn was playing at a fast tempo.

"I'd like to score more than 30, but I like the fact when you don't have to punt." It was good to get Will Hagerup some experience on his only punt of the day, though.

"Everybody likes a win. Everything is better. The food tastes better, you're in a better mood, everybody's happy." Michigan's 110,000 fans (RR estimates there were 3,000 cheering for UConn) deserved the win. The goal and expectation at Michigan is to win championships, but there's a process to get there.

Brendan Gibbons's missed extra point was a snap/hold issue. The missed field goal was due to a stiff wind knocking it short. Rodriguez was going to kick another field goal at the end, but though they'd have a chance to get the first down and run out the clock. "Seth Broekhuizen is still battling for the job."

"One of the goals as a coach when you coach college football is for your players to truly enjoy the experience of being a student-athlete." It's easier to do that with a win.

James Rogers was really poised, and made a couple nice plays. "We're probably going to kick ourselves watching the film defensively, because it looked like we had a couple opportunities to get some BIG big plays: interceptions and something like that, and we just missed out on the ball." The secondary was well-prepared.

Jeremy Gallon's fumbled punt was a tough one. "He's going to be a very good punt returner. Terrence Robinson will be fine too." Both guys will still play in the return game, though Rodriguez was not pleased with the overall play of the unit today.

Obi Ezeh's fumble recovery was a huge play.

The only real injury was Carvin Johnson "I don't know what his status is." (Afterwards, it was revealed he's day-to-day with a sprained MCL). Junior Hemingway's hamstring is injured, but "our hope is that he'll be able to go this week." Terry Talbott is still working through a clearinghouse eligibility issue.

David Brandon

"They practiced hard, and they've got a chip on their shoulder; they've got some things to prove. Hopefully today was the start of something good."

Winning the home opener is a big deal, but there's a lot more season to go. "They're just going to go back and work hard - and I know they will. We've got a big game next week; let's see how it goes. But I'll tell you what: I love the start, love the start."

On Denard Robinson: "I'll tell you what, he's the fastest guy on a football field that I've ever seen." His toughness in taking a bunch of hits against a big UConn team is underrated, as well. He can outrun guys even when they have the angle on him. His passing stats were as impressive as his running. "If you think too much about the run, he's gonna burn you."

There will always be critics, even with a big win. "We'll let [the plaers and coaches] enjoy this, because they deserve it."

The Stadium Rededication was designed to be special, which was the reason for the multiple flyovers, fireworks, etc. Brandon challenged the marketing team to come up with some special things.

"Brock is an inspiration to this team. He's got a share of this victory today, too." When he touched the banner, "I held it together pretty well until that moment, and I'll tell you why. I sat with him, we planned this whole thing. I told him how we needed to make this happen and he was great about it. I'm getting ready to leave, and he kinda called me over and said 'Mr. Brandon, would it be OK if I touched the banner?' That's what he wanted to do, and that's what he did."

Vincent Smith

The big victory felt good, because that's what the team has been working hard to achieve. "We just wanted to come out and just play."

The first touchdown run "felt a little bit weird because I was like on my injury, coming out and just catching the ball. I wasn't expecting to break that many tackles and just head upfield and score." The knee is 100%, and even Vincent was a little surprised by that.

With the team so focused, they're able to run the offense at a faster tempo. They knew which plays were going to be effective against the UConn defense. The team has been running that tempo in practice, so they were ready to play that fast.

On Denard: "I knew what he can do, and he just needed to be put in the right positions and come out and just play." The offensive line did a great job clearing the holes. Smith didn't think Denard would run that ball 29 times. Despite the heavy workload, "he always gets up. Very tough."

Denard Robinson

Denard's first start was pretty much everything he's dreamed about. "I've got my offensive line to thank, and my coaches for putting me in the right situation."

The quarterbacks found out last night that Denard would be the starter. Rodriguez also told the other guys to be ready. "I was just playing well, and I'm going to continue to play well. That's how it gonna be." Despite that, Denard's not guaranteed to start next week.

Setting the QB rushing record: "That's crazy. That's a dream come true, I guess."

Denard didn't know how many times he'd be carrying the ball, but he was ready to do whatever the coaches asked of him. "Coach told me to be ready, and I was ready."

Denard didn't have first-game jitters, because he saw the field a lot last year, even though this was his first start. "My team, my offensive linemen, all the seniors told me 'we got your back.'" He din't have to try to win the game by himself.

The biggest change from Denard 2009 to Denard 2010 is knowing the offense more, staying focused more, and "giving my all in the offseason."

UConn's players were trying to take Denard's shoes at the bottom of the pile. They got one of them on one play. "Trying to slow me down, I guess. Or slow down the offense, because the offensive line was just killin' 'em."

"I knew I always could throw the ball, that was never a question. It was just, getting the offense down at, that's basically what it was."

Denard wouldn't say what the design of the play was for Terrance Robinson's 43-yard reception. After leaving the podium, Denard (jokingly) told Rodriguez that the media was trying to steal the play.

Denard took a shot to the hip when he had to leave the game for a play. "I feel alright, pretty good, pretty good." He had confidence that he was going to be able to come back in.

The adrenaline takes over during games, so Denard doesn't really feel the nerves.

"It was a pretty good feeling" to have the offense rolling along in rhythm.

Are you going to wear shoelaces against Notre Dame? "(laughing) I'm not changing anything."

JT Floyd

"It was definitely a tribute to our coaches and our preparation" to beat a good team like UConn. It was good to finally have a chance to show everyone what the team is capable of.

"James played a heck of a game, man. I'm proud of him, man." He's been waiting a long time to play, so it's good for him to get a chance.

On forcing UConn's only fumble of the day: "I just put my hat on the ball. When you're in position to make plays, the coaches put you in position to make plays, good things happen."

On Denard: "Aw man, he's a crazy animal to tame. He gives every defense problems." It's good to see him get a chance to show off some of what he can do.

this game is a step in the right direction. "We're at no point to stop working. We've still got a lot of things we've gotta do." A good game for the defense should be a mental boost for the young defense.

David Molk

"You're blocking, and two seconds later you just see Denard 20 yards upfield. There's nothing better than seeing that."

"It's amazing how far he's progressed in such a short amount of time, and really without any true game experience, and now he's just building and building and building on what he can do." His patience and knowledge of the game are the biggest jumps.

The goal of the offense is to get first downs all up and down the field, and wearing down the defense. There was no specific key to converting third downs, everyone just did their job and worked well.

It was nice to see a lot of young guys get out and have a chance to perform.

29 carries won't wear Denard down. "He's just a tough kid. He's tougher than I am. He'll push through anything."

Craig Roh

"We were hungry, we were so hungry." The team was hungry last year too, but the defense didn't pay as well.

When people talk about the defense not being any good "if they can give even, a little bit more of a morsel of motivation, then we're just gonna come out and do what we did today."

Getting stops and turnovers at critical times is huge. Getting the 3-and-out right at the beginning of the game really boosted the defense's confidence. "It's great. Confidence is obviously a big thing. The whole team is going in hungry, and nervous too. So, winning this gives us a huge confidence boost."

It was nice to see somebody else chase Denard. "I had to chase that guy all spring, and let me tell you, it's not easy catching that guy."

There were no real surprises from UConn. "I felt like what our coach told us was exactly what happened."

"I'd say in spring, we were molding into what we would become, and what you see today." That was more of a learning experience, and fall camp is when the intensity came in.

Craig's hybrid position is a perfect fit for a guy with a hybrid skill set like him. He can take pass drops, rush the quarterback, etc.

Comments

ELBlue

September 5th, 2010 at 10:17 AM ^

The game was quick, on multiple levels.  Denard looked like a brand new person.  The offense looked focused and efficient.  The play calling was pretty solid.

The Defense is going to be challenged a lot.  There were a few plays that would have easily been TD's if it was against a high powered offense.

My gosh does the first game go fast. 

Can't wait for the trip to South Bend!

bronxblue

September 5th, 2010 at 10:19 AM ^

29 carries won't wear Denard down. "He's just a tough kid. He's tougher than I am. He'll push through anything."

That says it all.  And this is coming from David "The reason I like football is that I like to hit people. I hate everything else. I like to hit people really f___ing hard" Molk.  

 

bronxblue

September 5th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

Hope Carvin is really only day-to-day.  Those MCL sprains are always tricky, and this team needs him back at least for ND (I'd be fine resting him for the next two games).

Ron Swanson

September 5th, 2010 at 10:46 AM ^

What a class act.  He says all the right things and exudes confidence but stays humble giving credit to the OL.  Who wouldn't put in an extra effort to block for him?

docwhoblocked

September 5th, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

It was nice to see somebody else chase Denard. "I had to chase that guy all spring, and let me tell you, it's not easy catching that guy." 

(Maybe we should dress Denard baggy harem pants and play the MC Hammer song -can't touch this-)

UMAmaizinBlue

September 5th, 2010 at 11:25 AM ^

Denard misunderstood the Huskies' reasons for trying to take his shoes. They were trying to steal them for memorabilia purposes, so one day they could tell their kids and grandkids "See that shoe? That's the shoe that ran all over me that cool day in September many, many years ago..."

bacon1431

September 5th, 2010 at 11:59 AM ^

I don't think its necessarily classless. It's not like they were literally going to steal the shoe and not give it back. They just wanted to take it off so the no huddle would slow down. Just trying to get some sort of advantage, and I think most teams would do something of the sort.

ForestCityBlue

September 5th, 2010 at 6:35 PM ^

Its just boys being boys.  It may be totally juvenile, just because of the whole "Shoeless" thing, if I were an opposing D player I would try to take off one or more of his shoes every chace I got.  Do it to the point where it makes him tie his shoes.  I totally get the trying to take his shoes off thing.  Eventually it will reach the point where it becomes a negative on the field distraction and he will be simply told to tie his shoes, end of story and that will be that.

MGoShoe

September 5th, 2010 at 10:46 AM ^

...was definitely this one:

Reporter: When did you see Denard assert himself...?

RichRod: Well, when we recruited him.  That's why we signed him.

It's so nice to see RichRod having fun up there.

LB

September 5th, 2010 at 11:30 AM ^

to think and really listen to what the rabble was asking him up there. I'm sure poise is easier to teach than speed, but it is still not easily come by. Not answering the question about the play was great. Not answering it for that particular reporter was icing on the cake.

MGlobules

September 5th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

the better I feel about this game. Get past Notre Dame and the team will have some time for refinement, rest, etc. The sked is not too badly set up at all. 

bleachercreature

September 5th, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

JT Floyd's comments: "IT was definately a tribute to our coaches and our preparation."  Tell me all I need to know about where this team's collective head is.  They are obviously "ALL IN" and I think that the last of the malcontents have left the program.  If this regime is left alone and allowed to do things its way, we will look back on this season as when things started to really come together.  The re-birth of Michigan football may be upon us.

Do I think we will win the B10 or National Championships this year?  No but it is not out of the realm of possibility to start putting Michigan in those conversations over the next couple of years.  After that, we will be perrenially in that conversation with Rich Rodriguez and company.

Change regimes and we will delay Michigan's return to glory by several more years.  Do any of us really want to wait any longer?  The pieces are really coming together and yes, I realize that it was "only UConn" but c'mon, most of the so-called experts wouldn't even give Michigan a chance yesterday.  They obliterated the Vegas line on the game even though we all saw some things yesterday that worry us going into next week.  That just mean that there is more work to do and it was the first game of the season.  Go Blue!

08mms

September 5th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

I vote that the MGoCommunity chips it at the end of the year and buys RRod and his wife custom Michigan pajamas.  Between this and what he said in the Mitch Albom inteview I don't think that guy has got a decent night's sleep in years.

Sextus Empiricus

September 5th, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

When people talk about the defense not being any good "if they can give even, a little bit more of a morsel of motivation, then we're just gonna come out and do what we did today."

Sounds like the defense is answering the call. Interesting quote ... I didn't see video to put that in context. D was huge on that first series. Not too much to complain about...unless it would motivate anyone...