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Posted on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

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

By Jeff Arnold


Michigan senior defensive end Adam Patterson looks to take down Purdue quarterback Rob Henry during the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette on Saturday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell I

The Michigan football team enters the week feeling good about its defense.

But don't expect a unit that didn't allow Purdue to reach the end zone in Saturday's 27-16 win to revel in its performance too long, knowing that a Wisconsin team that put up 83 points against Indiana awaits the Wolverines on Saturday (noon, ESPN).

The defensive improvement, along with contending with a Badgers' offense that averages 40 points a game were among the talking points when Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez sat down with reporters on Monday.

Saturday's home finale will present its share of challenges for Michigan's defense. Regardless of whether Wisconsin running back John Clay plays, Rodriguez said Wisconsin's offensive success starts with a run game that will force the Wolverines to get to the ball quickly.

"They're certainly a top five football team - but to score on every possession like they did," Rodriguez said of Wisconsin's offensive abilities, "They made it look easy. But the thing with one thing about a young team is that they're always up for a challenge. So we'll challenge them all week, and we'll certainly get challenged Saturday."

Michigan's defense should get a lift as nose guard Mike Martin and linebacker Jonas Mouton are expected to return this week. But coming off Saturday's performance that followed up the defensive last stand against Illinois, Rodriguez believes his unit is gaining confidence.

"I hope we're getting a little confidence, but with a young team, every week is a new experience," Rodriguez said. "With the young guys can't make them bigger, stronger, faster, but you can get more experience."

Tough day

Rodriguez said overall, he has continued to be pleased with quarterback Denard Robinson's production. Although the sophomore had a rough go of it Saturday against Purdue, turning the ball over four times, Rodriguez said he saw what he needed to in the end.

"(Robinson) was having a tough day, but in the last drive, he was the difference," Rodriguez said.

Motivational talk

Rodriguez said the Wolverines have plenty of stake on Saturday. Not only will it be the seniors' final game at Michigan Stadium, Rodriguez said he doesn't have to do much to motivate his players heading into the final two games of the season.

The Wolverines will be underdogs Saturday and in the regular-season finale at Ohio State.

"I think they're extremely motivated, but I've been pleased with that and their focus all season," Rodriguez said. "I think their motivation was to continue to improve and to improve their bowl stake, so to speak."

Kickin' it around

Rodriguez said the kicking job will remain up for grabs after Seth Broekhuizen struggled against Purdue. Rodriguez said he will use this week of practice to see how both Broekhuizen and Brendan Gibbons respond this week.

Rodriguez said he didn't use punter Will Hagerup on pooch punts because in practice, the quarterbacks have done a better job in that situation. But he wasn't willing to hand out any awards after Saturday's game when Robinson nearly missed the ball on his punting attempt and Tate Forcier kicked the ball through the end zone.

"They certainly weren't going to win any punt, pass and kick competitions," Rodriguez said.

On the run

Vincent Smith has been the Wolverines' most consistent running back, gaining confidence nearly a year after he tore his ACL against Ohio State.

Smith has been asked to take on the majority of the work due to injuries to Michael Shaw and Fitz Toussaint. Rodriguez said once Toussaint is healthy, he could be a back that gives Michigan a spark.

For now, he'll look to Smith.

"He's looking faster, and he's getting that burst back," Rodriguez said. "He's getting stronger and every week, I think, he gets a little more confidence back."

Talking the talk

Asked if he thought Michigan's seven victories have lessened the pressure and taken Rodriguez off the hot seat, Rodriguez said he remains confident in his program.

He said the negativity when a team isn't playing well is "the nature of the beast" and that people probably had doubts about him from the day he was introduced as Michigan's coach.

For starters

Senior Adam Patterson made his Monday press conference debut two days after making his first career start Saturday against Purdue.

Patterson said he found out minutes before kickoff that he was going to start in the place of injured nose guard Mike Martin. He said he was nervous going in, but was thrilled for the opportunity and felt he played pretty well.

Going in, he knew there would be big shoes to fill.

"It's a lot of pressure - coming from Mike Martin - he just such a great athlete," Patterson said. "Whenever he goes down, it's going to be hard to step up for him. But I felt like it was something I really had to do."

Patterson said the Wolverines are very motivated to go out and finish the season with two wins. While motivation at Michigan is always high, he said now Michigan is bowl eligible, the incentive to play well against Wisconsin and Ohio State increases.

"The better we play, the better bowl game we go to," he said. "So we're motivated to go out and try and win the last two games."


Offensive lineman Stephen Schilling said as one of Michigan's seniors that will play their final home game, Saturday will be an emotional experience.

Saturday's home finale offers Schilling one final trip out of the tunnel and to run to midfield to touch the banner.

He said although Michigan experienced a couple of down years during his career, Schilling said he wouldn't trade anything he's gone through. He hopes that Saturday's experience will be different than last year's class, which ended their careers with a loss to Ohio State.

"It was tough for all my friends that were seniors going out the way they did," Schilling said. "We definitely want to leave the Big House with a win."



Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 12:45 a.m.

Actually, allowing the field goal tells your defense "I'm confident enough in you to give them 3 points and you won't let them get this close again." That's how I took it, anyway.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

Maybe RR thought that it would be Michigan's kicker kicking the ball....

Blue Marker

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

@Dschan, We'll have to agree to disagree. The D had played pretty well and Purdue isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse. Also, what does that say to your D you're trying to build confidence in? I just felt like it was a poor coaching move.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

Blue Marker - I would gladly give up 3 points then watch another 3rd and 20 conversion against mich. 3rd and long has been the scariest downs to watch as a mich fan, and i actually think that was one of RRs smartest calls this year


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

Hey Coach! You get paid 2 million dollars to manage the program!!! Now be responsible for the last 2 games this season! Be a man and take the heat! Beat Wisconsin and Ohio State or take the responsibility that you are a failure!!!


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

Well, in honor of Theo: I will make a crazy prediction. UM 14 Wis: 13 (And that's the end of the half....At the end of the game: UM 17, Wis 41)


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.

Watching Wiscy's depth (2nd/3rd/4th) lines crush IU was entertaining to say the least. I'm worried about this weekend. Our defense was crap when Purdue could make plays. Thankfully, Purdue was crappier.

Blue Marker

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

I've been a steady supporter of the current coaching staff but I about blew a gasket on Saturday when they declined a holding penalty and allowed Purdue to kick a field goal. Who gives up 3 points like that? Also, if you're going to punt then punt. Having Denard Robinson punt was foolish. Come on RR, let's not give the haters so much ammo.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

Wisconsin has struggled in the State of Michigan for a last couple of years. Lets hope their struggles continue. I do believe that Wisc is the best team in the Big10 this year so it will be a tough test.