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Posted on Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.

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

By Jeff Arnold


Michigan had plenty to celebrate after holding off Illinois in a 67-65 triple overtime win Saturday. The Wolverines became bowl eligible for the first time under Rich Rodriguez.

There was plenty to talk about Monday regarding Saturday's point-scoring-palooza when the Michigan football team became bowl eligible for the first time under coach Rich Rodriguez.

A 67-65 Wolverines' win provided plenty of storylines, whether it was Roy Roundtree's record-setting day, the Michigan defense's last stand and of course, everything that happened in between.

Rodriguez sat down for his weekly chat with reporters on Monday. And, oh yeah, there is still Saturday's game at Purdue to preview.

Rodriguez said that tests done on quarterback Denard Robinson, who left in the fourth quarter, came back negative and that the sophomore should be "good to go" as far as practicing goes.

Film did not clearly show when Robinson sustained the hit after which he experiencing dizziness and headaches. Rodriguez said there was signs that Robinson "wasn't all there" and that trainers made the decision to hold Robinson out.

Rodriguez said Robinson's knee and shoulder are doing better, and he saw evidence of both during Saturday's win. He said he noticed Robinson's throws were stronger than they had been and expects his quarterback to to be the healthiest he has been in weeks when Michigan faces Purdue on Saturday.

Rodriguez said when there's not much of a drop-off between starters and reserves, that's a sign of a good team. He said quarterback is one of those positions where he feels comfortable with who's out there and that the Wolverines are are getting there at running back.

Defensively, the Wolverines certainly aren't there, especially in the secondary, where Michigan continues to struggle with its youth. Rodriguez said Michigan simply blew coverages on the two scoring plays when Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had open receivers on the same play.

"That's obviously something we need to continue to work on," he said.

On the injury front

Teric Jones sustained a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the year. Jones suffered the knee injury on a first-quarter kickoff return. Nose guard Mike Martin, who limped off the field early Saturday before returning, will be fine.

Cornerback J.T. Floyd has undergone successful surgery and will begin rehabilitation as soon as he's able. Rodriguez said that defensive back Troy Woolfolk is out of his walking boot and although he hasn't begun working on his lower body, he is doing fine. Rodriguez isn't certain how ready his injured players will be for spring ball, but said all will be fine in the long run.

Going bowling

Michigan is bowl eligible with Saturday's win, reaching six wins for the first time under Rodriguez. Rodriguez said the bowl preparation time will be valuable for the future as well as returning the Wolverines to a postseason game for the first time since 2007.

Rodriguez characterized the locker room atmosphere on Saturday as exciting, not just because of the bowl-clinching victory, but because of the way the game played out in the end. But reaching the postseason, Rodriguez said, was a big moment.

"There's no question it's a sense of relief not only for our players and coaches, but especially for our seniors," Rodriguez said. "The chance to extend the season by one game is huge."

Growing pains

Saturday's win included a little of everything - including Michigan having to overcome five turnovers. Rodriguez said a couple of them may have been forced by Illinois' defense, but most were unforced. What impressed Rodriguez was his players didn't drop their heads.

"The biggest thing was that our kids kept competing," Rodriguez said. "From my vantage point, there was never a feeling of, 'Oh, we're in trouble'. So I think that's a sign that we're growing up."

Permanent moves

Rodriguez said Craig Roh's move from linebacker to defensive end will be permanent. The position is more of Roh's natural spot and where the sophomore played last year at 237 pounds. Roh is up to 250 pounds and is athletic enough to be effective at the end position.

Sticking with the defense, Rodriguez said tackling was "OK" but nothing better than that. He said Michigan's defenders - who gave up a record 65 points - struggled to get off blocks.

Extra time

Saturday's game was the third time Rodriguez has been involved in a triple overtime game. His teams improved to 3-0 in those games. Rodriguez said especially given the emotional way the game ended, he can't imagine trying to recover if the Wolverines would have fallen short.

"I cant imagine being on the other side of that," he said. "We have a hard enough time sleeping - I can't imagine how many plays you would be replaying in your head if you would have lost that game."

Moving on

Rodriguez echoed athletic director Dave Brandon's feeling that last week was a "good week" especially after the NCAA came back with its report, clearing Rodriguez of the most serious charge of its investigation

He said he and his staff are cognizant of timing in practice, especially as it reaches the daily four-hour daily limit.

"We have sirens going off and people are yelling, we have a countdown clock and when we get to 3:58 (of practice time), our coaches are running into the building," he said.
When reporters cracked up at Rodriguez's description of the end of practice, Rodriguez replied, "I'm serious."

On the defensive

Senior Ryan Van Bergen said he was exhausted after logging about 100 plays during Saturday's triple overtime thriller. He said he had nothing left, calling the moment surreal after the win.

He said although the defensive performance still wasn't where he wanted it, he said the defense "made tremendous strides". He said the defense finally feels like the unit has a swagger about it after finding ways to get off the field on third down on several occasions as well as winning a game that made the Wolverines bowl-eligible.

Illinois was 6-for-16 on third down conversions - a focal point Van Bergen said the Wolverines made a priority after feeling embarrassed about their third-down performance against Penn State.

Van Bergen said he hasn't been as excited to play a game as he is Saturday when Michigan's defense will look to build off of Saturday's win in West Lafayette.

Even so, there's still work to do.

"(Saturday) was a huge sigh of relief," Van Bergen said. "But we still have a lot of work we want to do. We're 2-3 in the Big Ten and that's not acceptable to us."

 Just for kicks

Van Bergen was asked about Lions' defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh missing an extra point in the Lions' 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets on Sunday.

"Suh should be embarrassed for missing a 13-yard field goal," Van Bergen said.

He knows what he's talking about. Van Bergen was a kicker in high school at Whitehall and registered a career-high 46-yard field goal. He missed a 48-yard field goal that hit the crossbar.

He also kicked in the annual East-West All-Star game, but said he hasn't thrown his name into the ring to kick at Michigan, saying he can't kick off the ground.



Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

Heartbreak and ERM...thanks to both of you for what you wrote about us so called "haters". I have NEVER turned my back on the players, and never will. However, my complaints two years ago, last year and this year are with the coaches! I have said from the day RR was announced as the coach that he was the wrong hire. It has nothing to do with him not being a Michigan man, nor him personally. I feel sure he is a great father and husband, but that doesn't help him once he is on campus. My feelings about him became crystal clear as I watched the WVA/Pitt game when WVA had the NC game in their hands and he chocked!! It was all over his face. To me, if he couldn't handle that pressure, how in the world could he handle the Maize and Blue. Unfortunately my feelings have come to fruition. To me he is not a full who at least tries to understand all aspects of coaching. It's about him never have proven that knows how to teach the players how to play football. And recently it was his NCAA problems, both at UM and WVA. He brought shame upon our great university and for that I will never forgive him. Inside I feel that had we had a REAL coach over the past 2 and a half seasons our winning percentage would be at least 80% because that coach would have kept, and used the talent that was there(all 17 returning players), our recruiting classes would have been rated 10th at worst. Heck, even if we had a half a$$ed defensive coach we would have won at least 70% of our games. As I have said many times, yes the team has a lot of young players, this year especially, but what bothers me the most is that those players made the exact same mistakes in the UConn game that they made last Saturday. Saturday's win was awesome, and I feel very happy for the players, but to me they did it IN SPITE of the coaches!!


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

The 'Shoe being louder has nothing to do with fans, but everything to do with architecture and physics. As a shallow bowl, the Big House allows sound to escape. The steeper stands of the 'Shoe keep sound in. If you don't believe me, put the radio in your car on with the windows open (the Big House) and then compare that with the windows closed (the 'Shoe).


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 6:56 p.m.

BorninA2: I see it as astep in the right direction. They gave up 65 points...45 in regulation...14 in the 2nd half....the others resulted from the numerous turnovers. I would say it's progress in the right direction. On the other hand, wasn't Illinois coming in as a team that was hot? They gave up 67 points. They'll no doubt go to a bowl this year. People were talking that Illinois was going to finish 9-3 this year. Pessimists always look for the negatives...people should look at the positives instead. Maybe then they'll lead a happier life.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 6:29 p.m.

@tOSU: Michigan has had absolutely no trouble selling tickets and thats a fact, if what you say is true, then why are they still selling out EVERY game? And why do fans get put on a waiting list for season tickets? HMMMM? But yes, you are dead on about the Shoe being louder, if we had 110,000 hillbillies in our stadium, we would be just as loud.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 5:14 p.m.

Great. We squeaked by Illinois to make a debatable point that we aren't the worst team in the Big Ten again this year. But I don't see how ANYONE can see this as any sort of win for the defense. They gave up 45 points in regulation and Illinois scored a touchdown on every OT posession. We made a lucky defensive call on the two point conversion and won the game, but if we'd lost no one would be crowing about any sort of defensive improvement. It sucks to have mixed feelings about the team winning: I hate to lose and at the same time every win increases the odds of having to tolerate an incompetent, unaccountable coach for another season.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

"Face it, not only are our fans better but also our stadium is better." Ah yes, spoken like a true Buckeye. You are all cut from the same cloth, thank God they don't sell it farther North.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.

@theOSU: Well, one thing for sure. Your fans are more...obnoxious!! And destructive of the opposing team's fans. I was physically attacked twice when being down there as a student, and had personal belongings removed from me and torn. I had beer and coke spilled on me. Of course, it is all in the spirit of the rivalry, I understand, but I have heard the same things said from PSU fans, ND fans, MSU fans, Iowa fans. Something stinks here and it ain't who's stadium is bigger. And considering that M just had its 35th year of sellouts (somewhere in the 290 game range), I don't know where you came up with the statement that OSU sells tix better than UM. It is to all of our advantage that both schools be undefeated. Stop the petty rivalry stuff. It is beneath most of us.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

Given all that UM fans have been through in the last 3 years, I understand why you're all excited about your victory over the Illini last Saturday. But lets settle something here and now: the effect of the 12th man and crowd noise. Michigan Stadium, for all your efforts, never will be loud. It's simple physics and acoustics. Many years ago (1970s)I had a high school music teacher who was very influential on me. He had been in the UM/MB, marched in both Ohio and Michigan Stadia as well as 2 Rose Bowls. HE SAID, "Michigan Stadium, being a shallow bowl, allows the noise to just drift away. Ohio Stadium, with its ulta-steep sides, contains the music or noise to a far greater degree." Let's face it, Ohio Stadium is both architecturally more interesting than Michigan Stadium and a more exciting venue. Enter Ohio Stadium through the great arch on the north side. Your next visit to Michigan Stadium will make you think you're at a high school game. PS: Don't send me garbage about Michigan being "bigger." Save it for your arguments with Penn State. I know you have more seats. However, you're having trouble selling them. At OSU, we need to hold a lottery just for the opportunity to purchase seats. It has been that way for over 50 years. We sell-out the entire stadium for the entire season during the SPRING sale (except for sales to incoming freshman). Face it, not only are our fans better but also our stadium is better.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

@trublu: I too was at the game, and appreciated the offense, the game, the noise, the atmosphere (though not the cold). But I must argue with you. In my section, #13, everybody around me had nothing nice to say about RR for the entire game, though all still cheered for UM with their loud voices and enthusiasm. Yes, it is not a scientific sample, but it still not appropriate to say that critics and "haters" are not fans... Why is it that we cannot be wholehearted fans of our school, our teams yet think the coach/coaches are not right? Did you defend Tommy Amaker and Ellerbe this much? What about LC? Were critics of LC not true Michigan fans? This whole argument of "can't criticize the coach or else you are not a fan" is getting old and ridiculous. And I'd say criticizing the coach is a whole lot more acceptable as he is the paid professional than criticizing the players which I see quite a bit, also (especially piling on Forcier earlier this year and on Obi Ezeh this year).


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

Misc. points: DRob really took a beating by the middle of the Illinois D. The holes were not as consistent, and he was having trouble finding them. I think they need to bounce him outside more. Roh should be pass rushing almost ALL the time. This is a good move by the coaches. We need more depth on the D-line, that's for sure. Van Bergen played way too many downs. I think if Michigan doesn't make all those turnovers, we would have won the game in regulation by at least 10. Beating Purdue becomes REALLY important if we want to get any kind of decent bowl game. Go Blue!

Lorain Steelmen

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

This a is a team that is still growing...A work in progress. They have a 'decent shot' at beating Purdue and Wisconsin. OSU will take a great game on both sides of the ball, but it is possible. This win was big because it gives them 15 more practices. For a young team, that is huge! Good for the kids. I think they are a close knit team. It is fun watching them.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

a2grateful, you are right on about the crowd at saturday's game. the fans were up and loud the entire game (especially the third down plays which are defense did pretty well on). i was particullarly pleased with how after the final play i looked around and saw 95% of the stadium still full with the fans staying in there seats to cheer the team off the field instead of running for the exits. the team deserved that support. great win for those players and the fans. go blue!


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

@Murrow's Ghost, you're spot-on with that comment. Brian Kelly putting Crist back in during the Michigan game comes to mind.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 2:07 p.m.

Saturday's game was one of the best shootouts I've ever attended and witnessed. My voice is still gone today (Monday)... The crowd was loud, and our defense visibly requested that the crowd provide the 12th-man cheering support... It was there... and our defense earned the stop and the victory... Great persistence and work D... and fans! The crowd noise with the winning sack reminded me of the crowd reaction on a day when AC scored the winning TD against Indiana as the clock ran out... Go Blue! Haters: Go find a fair weather team to root for : )!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 1:31 p.m.

"We're 2-3 in the Big Ten and that's not acceptable to us," - Ryan Van Bergen. Isn't that all that needs to be said?