Coach Rodriguez: “Welcome to sunny Florida.”
Question: How many players had travel problems today?
Coach Rodriguez: “It was over a dozen for sure and we’re still waiting on a few. There is a bus full of guys that will be here in a few minutes and maybe three or four guys that will not get here at all tonight. We’re trying to get them in as late as we can or earlier tomorrow morning as we can.”
Question: Are they in their own hometown or are they scattered?
Coach Rodriguez: “The problem is they got scattered. Some got stuck in Atlanta, some got stuck in Philadelphia and all points in between and that sometimes happens when the storms come up, flights get canceled, which causes another flight to get canceled. We’ll adjust. We’ll get some work in tonight. Most of the guys are here. We’ll get some work here tonight and we should have everybody ready for tomorrow practice.’
Question: Does it affect practice today on what you can do and stuff?
Coach Rodriguez: “What has affected today’s practice is that we had a delay getting in here ourselves and so everything was kind of pushed back a half an hour. My intentions for today’s practice were just to get them going. They had three days off, so we wanted to get some throwing around a little bit, get a little sweat going. I don’t know how much we’ll sweat tonight. We’ll get a little sweat going, get them back into the football mold and then get back to our regular routine tomorrow.”
Question: Mississippi State opted to practice in the ballroom at the hotel today because it is so chilly; did you consider that?
Coach Rodriguez: “We looked to see if there was a big arena or gym or something. The ballroom was not quite big enough to get done what I wanted to get done. I’ve been down here before so I brought my gloves. The weather here is usually beautiful and it is supposed to be beautiful the rest of the week, so we’ll be okay.”
Question: Just the fact that game week is finally here, how does it feel to be here?
Coach Rodriguez: “It is great to be back down here. Again, I just think so much of the city and the people that put on the bowl, they do a terrific job. They have a nice function tonight and we want to make sure that our players get there for that and we’re excited and ready to go.”
Question: You had mentioned before that you were waiting on grades, anyone not going to make it?
Coach Rodriguez: “Nobody that we know of so far. Not all the grades are in yet. The finals just ended, so some of the grades are still getting posted, but we anticipate everybody, but there are still some grades that will be out there.”
Question: So you just bring everybody and then you just tell guys they can't go?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah…well right now, the plan is that we brought everybody but again we have to wait a couple of days. If anything happens surprisingly at the end of the week, we’ll let you all know.”
Question: Where do you think you made the most progress during practices at home; defensively?
Coach Rodriguez: “That’s a good question. I really don’t know. I think we made strives fundamentally in all of them. We didn’t have…again, it is probably a little bit overstated. You really have four or five fundamental base practices, but thought in those four or five practices, we got better just judging on the scrimmage that we had. The one scrimmage I think you all were at. We tackled a little bit better and I saw some young guys make improvements. Now we’re in game week and all our focus now is…there is some fundamentals, but we’ve got to get ready for Mississippi State.”
Question: For the guys that have made it here, what is this first day like just touching down?
Coach Rodriguez: “I think they’re excited. It looks like they had a good Christmas. I hope they didn’t gain too many pounds eating momma's cooking back home, that was one reason I wanted to get out today. They are excited to be back together again. I can tell the guys getting on the plane that came with us on the charter from Detroit that they are ready to play some football.”
Question: When you were talking about what you were doing back in Ann Arbor; now is the time that you really concentrate on Mississippi State then?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. The guys will have a little bit of free time. You don’t want it to be all work. You want their mind to be able to relax a little bit in the afternoons and the early evenings, but they’ve got an early curfew and they will be in all week. They know the main thing down here is to try and win the game.”
Question: Everybody going to practice health-wise?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah other than the obvious ones that were out for the season. The only possibility of a guy that got hurt that may be able to play is Martavious Odoms. We’re hoping and we’ll see how he practices. There is a chance that he may be able to play. The rest of the guys that were out season-ending are still out.”
Question: Any movement on the kicking game, any determination yet?
Coach Rodriguez: “Today is probably not a good day to judge with a little wind going. I may hold off on that evaluation. We’ll kick a little bit today, but we probably won't kick that much. We just want to get these guys stretched and warmed up and do it offense and defense.”
Question: That’s a big thing for the first couple of days, I assume is the kicking and trying to get as much evaluation as you can.
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah and I don’t know if I’ll even have the answer. I don’t know if I’ll have the answer by the time the game is over. I think at the same time that we made strides, but all the practices we had on campus were indoors, great conditions. I want to kick in some difficult conditions. I think the weather is supposed to be nice later in the week. But kicking in a little wind and kicking outdoors is a little different and we’ll see how they perform in the next couple of days.”
Question: How many practices will you have here?
Coach Rodriguez: “We’ll practice every day except Friday. Then Friday, it will be more of a walkthrough. Today is not going to be a full practice. The next three days after this will be more of a regular type practice and we’ll get a lot of good work in.”