Live updates from Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez's Monday press conference
Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez said while he's pleased the Wolverines won the season-opener, 30-10 against Connecticut on Saturday, the execution has to be better. "I think (players) will see they left a lot of plays out there."
Wide receiver Roy Roundtree will be doubtful for Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC) with internal bruising while defensive back Carvin Johnson is very doubtful with a knee injury.
Defensively, Rodriguez said he "got what we thought we would get." Players tackled well and there wasn't a lot of missed assignments. Rodriguez said that's what worried him most with a young defense.
Quarterback Denard Robinson is a pretty humble guy and he doesn't worry about the sophomore getting caught up in the hype after his Week One performance.
Rodriguez said "(Praise) is like poison - it's OK unless you swallow it, and nobody will be swallowing it."
Although Michigan and Notre Dame both run variations of the spread offense, Rodriguez said given the talent the Irish have at the skilled positions, Michigan's defense will lock in on individual assignments.
Rodriguez said Notre Dame's spread offense is pretty well mixed between the run and the pass. "By the looks of last week, it looks like Coach (Brian) Kelly has a quarterback he is comfortable with and he's got two really good running backs."
Like Rodriguez, Kelly has a resume that includes stops at a smaller school. Kelly was at Grand Valley State before going to Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Rodriguez, whose coaching career began at Glenville State, looks back on his time at smaller schools fondly.
"When you step into a job like this, it helps to have Division I experience, but it's invaluable to have smaller school experience. You get an appreciation for all the things you have to do to run a program. You have to learn very quickly from a recruiting and coaching and teaching standpoint."
"Sometimes when you're a small-school coach, you have to be creative, and if I had to do it all over, I would do it again."
Going back to Denard Robinson, Rodriguez said Robinson's carries (29) were higher than he thought, "but you have to do what you have to do to win the game."
Rodriguez said playing on the road for Robinson will be a challenge, but that he has improved as a communicator. "It will be a challenge, but we'll work on that this week in practice."
"I think he's smart enough to realize he's one play away from people saying, 'You can't do this, you can't do that.' But he's a pretty humble."
Rodriguez said he hasn't spoken with sophomore quarterback Tate Forcier, who started all 12 games last season but did not play on Saturday. "Anytime somebody doesn't play, they are probably going to be disappointed. If it crosses over into him not being a team player, then we'll have a talk."
"There shouldn't be a problem."
On Tate: "Do I look concerned to you all? I'm concerned with all of our players. I want all my players to be be happy 100 percent of the time. Inevitably, they probably won't be. But I expect them to be happy or fake it. But am I concerned about how it affects the team? No."
On Denard Robinson: You could sense early on that he had the physical tools, but that he also had the mental make-up he was looking for. He would have preferred to redshirt both Robinson and Forcier, but he said he expects all three of his quarterbacks to improve. But he liked Robinson's start.
"He played well and he got everybody excited, but it's just one game.
"Devin Gardner has proved he can play. He has matured to the point where he's going to help us win some games.
Rodriguez on facing Notre Dame: "Our players and their players realize this is a rivarly. They've got a new coach and a lot of excitement and I'm sure they're riding that wave of emotion. They're very passionate about football and every seat will be filled. It's an intimate environment like the Big House. They have a young, hungry team just like us."
Rodriguez said wide receiver Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph are two physical pass catchers that can go get it.
Rodriguez said his young defensive backs have been getting a lot of reps in practice. "We're trying to get them to grow up pretty quick."
Notre Dame's offense is going to spread Michigan out and it will be critical to tackle in space. "If we can't do that, we're going to have a tough day."
Rodriguez said special teams has to improve, characterizing most of the unit's play as below average.
Asked again about Forcier's post-game comments: "I would prefer to talk about Denard's performance rather than a guy being upset. This is a team game and it's about the team. Sometimes, (media) spends time sensationalizing a story, but I'm not going to pay attention to that."
Rodriguez said his biggest concern going into the game was the wind. He said his team hadn't practiced much in the wind and that it could be an issue for the kicking game and Robinson's passing. Rodriguez said Robinson's eyes were right with the exception of a couple of throws. He said Robinson understands the timing of the play and trusts his progression - something Robinson has gotten better at throughout camp.
Tight end Kevin Koger said players were pleased with the opening performance. Players realized people had their doubts before Michigan came out with the offensive performance.
"It was good to get out and show people what we can really do because I know not a lot of people were picking us. The only ones stopping us was us."
Koger said Robinson's ability to pass as well as run makes him more of a challenge for defenses unlike last season when he was mainly a running quarterback.
"I think it kept the defense honest because he showed he could pass. You can't just put eight in the box. They're going to have to be honest."
Koger said the start of school is a "distraction" and that upperclassmen will talk to freshmen about adding it into the schedule. But after the past two years, he said Michigan players have gotten used to having a lot of distractions.
Koger said he could sense it was louder in Michigan Stadium on Saturday. "You could feel it - it was bouncing off the windows, but I think 113,000-plus had a lot to do with it, too."
Running back Michael Shaw said he felt a lot of nerves, but he was happy with the showing against UConn. He said he's always hard on himself and so when people tell him 'Good game' he doesn't believe it. He said there's always room for improvement and "the better the offensive line gets - and they're pretty good - the better the offensive line gets, the better I'll get."
Shaw addressed his off-season academic issues. He said he's a student-athlete and he didn't think the University of Michigan would stand for where he was academically. "I just had to put my nose to the grindstone and it all worked out for the best."