You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 11 a.m.

Live updates from Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez's Monday press conference

By Jeff Arnold

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."


Lorain Steelmen

Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

This is only game one. The Wolverines have the potential to have an excellent year, but they must stay focused, and keep working. The Oline showed great intensity, and agility. I hope they stay with it! The backs and recievers continue to improve. To all those guys still battling for PT, stay committed. This is a LONG season, and the team will need you, including Forcier, before this is all over. Congrats guys...Go Blue, Beat Notre Dame!


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

I wonder how upset Spartan fans are with all this coverage? Michigan wins one game and the papers, websites, radio shows, etc are covered with Wolverine stories. MSU won easily in its game and showcased some new running talent and there is relatively little coverage.


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Don't need Tate with Devin Gardner as #2. We all knew this when the season started, now too does Tate.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 2:07 p.m.

That was a nice win, but the team was 4-0 heading into October last year. They finished 5-7, the only remaining win being against a team ranked in the bottom 20 of the former I-AA division. What works against a Big East team won't necessarily work in the Big Ten. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but by no means do I think the coach has turned a corner. Robinson had an excellent game, and I will admit he's already better than I thought he'd ever be. I'm reserving judgment until he plays the more physical Big Ten competition, week after week. His 29 rushes were more than Pat White had in any game in his career. White had more than 24 carries just once. This kind of workload will break Robinson. Critiquing Robinson - he did many things very well. My only complaint is a tendency to stare down the receiver. That led to Roundtree's injury and some forced throws for shorter gains. That's something that can be improved in practice and in games, especially considering this was his first start. On his touchdown pass, he did an excellent job looking off the defense. So the receiver caught the ball in space as a result. It's really just a matter of whether any quarterback taking that kind of pounding will still be able to physically throw the ball later in the season. Forcier broke down last year. Robinson's tough, but no quarterback is tough enough to run the ball 29 times, week after week, in the physical Big Ten.


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

A lot of positives coming out of this game. A much improved offensive line; more ball control on offense; no turnovers; almost no penalties; tough defense when they had to; excellent performance from the QB. Hopefully, Tate will get his head screwed on straight quickly. We're going to need him this season - probably sooner rather than later. Denard is likely to get banged up running this many times (29). There's absolutely NO advantage to Tate leaving the team right now, and I don't think he will. Much of this so-called Tate story is overblown, poor journalism anyway. He may end up transferring after the season, who knows. Then again, maybe not. Right now, the main thing is focussing on helping the team win. And I think when all the fog clears, that's what he'll end up doing. Go Blue and Beat ND!


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Funny how the majority of the RR haters have disappeared. Don't worry guys. They will all be back as soon as RR and Michigan face any kind of setback. If Denard gets hurt or throws a pick, we'll be hearing about how Rich needs to be fired yet again. With that said, I trust RR to have the team ready for a tough game in South Bend, after that, should be smooth sailing for a few weeks, and right into bowl eligibility.


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

The future for RR and his family depends on RR. You sound like another misinformed person that doesn't realize that this is a team sport and effort and no less.


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

In a few weeks RR's future will depend on Tate Forcier, he better be nice to him.


Mon, Sep 6, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Well, I have faith in RR to solve these problems with the various teams we play, that's why he makes the big bucks. I think it's going to be a hard fought year and I think next year which is year 4 is the key to continuity. I don't think after this 1st game that we're going to sneak up on anyone. These big 10 coaches are wily and defensive minded so our team has to jell rapidly each game. I loved watching what Denard can do but to be realistic it's a long brutal schedule and the law of averages tells me that running at that speed there are going to be some big time collisions and I think Denard is going to need the, "luck of the Irish" not to get injured badly. Tate Forcier needs to man up and be ready. There is no room for a punk attitude this is a brutal sport and requires maximum team effort or players get hurt. Things don't always go your way in life. Tate needs to rationalize the consequences here and I hope his father is pointing them out to Tate, forcefully.