Question: You said you were going to order the depth chart Sunday, so how does it look?
Coach Rodriguez: “Oh did I (laughter). Glad you reminded me of that. Well still ongoing. We have several position battles that probably go all the way up through next Thursday. I think we’ve tried to identify most of the guys that will be traveling at least for the first game, but today’s practice, tomorrow has two practices and Friday kind of mini practice who we think will definitely be the first guys out there unless injuries or something occur.”
Question: How about quarterback? How does that stack up?
Coach Rodriguez: “All three again, I know there may be some concern how do you get all three reps, but the way we’ve structured our practices and we’ve gotten all three pretty quality reps and their used to running in and out now a little bit more than we normally do at a quarterback position and it hasn’t affected their play in practice. I’ve not sat down with them and explained exactly, because I really don’t know exactly what we are going to do yet as far as the order. It may depend on the play and may depend on the situation, but as coaches, we’ve talked about it quite a bit and we have an idea in mind as far as what plays each guy runs well, which ones executes well and kind of go into the game plan with that in mind.”
Question: Who is at the top of the depth chart at quarterback right now?
Coach Rodriguez: “All three of them.”
Question: Are you saying that maybe in the game, you would go play to play with different quarterbacks?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t know if you just go play to play but there could be a guy in for one play and out. It wouldn’t be a constant thing like that. I’m never going to put a quarterback in a situation where he has to always looking over his shoulder. If I don’t play well on this play, I come out. I don’t think that is fair to do them. So it is not to be pulling them in and out based on just one play one or how well they play on one play.”
Question: Is it fair to say that you might have different packages for each guy?
Coach Rodriguez: “Right.”
Question: Is the offensive line pretty much set or are their any battles ongoing?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well there is still some ongoing. Again, we’ve got a long time…well I say long time, it is less than 10 days before we play. There is still some battles going on. Again, I reiterate again how we try to structure that there is open competition every day and our players understand that.”
Question: Have you narrowed it down on a placekicker?
Coach Rodriguez: “Not yet. Jason Olesnavage is the first one out of the gate right now. He has kicked pretty well, pretty consistent. Some days have been better than others. Brendan Gibbons, Bryan Wright and Kris Pauloski are the other three in camp and they’ve all had their moments. That’s an area that again none of them have kicked in a game quality kicks yet. We are going to try and put them under pressure the next few days and see if there is anybody else emerges or who kind of takes control of it.”
Question: Have you been in the stadium?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, we are going to get in the stadium on Friday. It’s not really a full scrimmage because it’s not live, but there be some live situations. We did that yesterday, which was really good and our young guys (garbled)…get them accustomed to the stadium where they stand on the sideline and all that. We’ll do that Friday afternoon.”
Question: You mentioned right tackle is one of the positions still up for grabs; what are you looking for?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah Mark Huyge has been running mostly with the ones and had a pretty solid camp. Patrick Omameh is there as well and we can always move Perry Dorrestein over there. We’ve got a little bit more of some quality competition. Now Patrick hasn’t played before but Perry and Mark has and Mark would have been in the mix more last year had he not had a high ankle sprain in camp. So he’s had a good camp and he’s been pretty solid so far.”
Question: Couple of your guys mentioned him having a good offseason too.
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah he did. He has been healthy. He is an athletic guy, a tough guy and he understands what we are going to do. Our comfortability with Mark and Patrick and some of the other guys have allowed us to move Steve Schilling to guard, where I think he is more comfortable at.”
Question: Who is behind Steve Brown at the linebacker position and how are those guys coming along?
Coach Rodriguez: “It’s a pretty good battle going on for who is going to be behind Stevie and we’ve talked about even moving another guy over there to create even more competition. It is such an important position. Stevie is a guy that we feel very good with, but he is going to play a lot of plays on defense and special teams so we need another guy or two to emerge there.”
Question: How is Brandon Herron looked this far and what do you want out of that position overall?
Coach Rodriguez: “In the scheme of your defense, you ask for different things, sometimes they rush and sometimes they drop. There is a lot on that position. Brandon is a guy that loves football and he knows the opportunity is there for him. He’s in a battle there with some other guys including Craig Roh who is a true freshman that we’ve put there and he has had a good camp and he is battling Brandon. That position is another one that the starter may not be determined until mid next week.”
Question: Have you guys ever think about moving Brandon Graham to that position?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well he plays a little bit of that now. In the position and the scheme of things in our defense, Brandon Graham has the ability and we have the ability to move him around a little bit as well.”
Question: What has Mike Williams shown you that has kind of put him next to Troy?
Coach Rodriguez: “Mike has had a solid camp. He’s a very aggressive guy. He’s a good blitzer. He’s been better in coverage so far in camp and he sees this as an opportunity I think as well. We’re pretty excited about Mike and certainly Troy Woolfolk; I think I’ve mentioned this several times, move him to free safety has been a really good move for our defense.”
Question: Is he more of a complement to Troy or are they similar?
Coach Rodriguez: “They are similar in some respects. They are both for not being real big guys they are very, very physical. They are guys that hit like 220 pounders. Mike sometimes goes for the big shot all the time and he has to be under control some and make sure that he wraps up. Mike has been pretty solid and he is an ongoing battle too with some other guys.”
Question: Coach after (Mike) Shaw sat out the spring, how do you feel that he has played in fall camp?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, I’ve really been pleased with Mike. He’s really been competing and trying hard to do all the things we’ve asked. We asked him to be more physical, asked him to try and learn some things more and be more of part of the passing game and he’s done that. He’s really had a solid camp. With Brandon Minor being nicked up a little bit, it has given Mike Shaw some more reps and I feel really good that we can put Mike in the game and we can run our whole offense with him.”
Question: Do you feel like he is pretty much right behind Brandon Minor then?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah I wouldn’t say how far behind, because Brandon Minor knows and you guys have talked to him; he loves football and he is very, very competitive. He knows that if things slip at all that we got Carlos (Brown), Vincent Smith and Mike Shaw all right there. I feel pretty good about that. Brandon Minor is fine and you have to pull him out of drills. Carlos Brown has had a solid camp. I think we are going to have enough guys that can do it.”
Question: Did you sit Brandon Minor just to be careful?
Coach Rodriguez: “We did a little bit. Now not yesterday. We will limit his reps some today probably at times. Brandon again, he’s one that always wants to be out there and he knows that this is a big year for him. We will play it by ear for the next few days.”
Question: Have you ever played three quarterbacks in one game?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah but it was games where we were way ahead. Not in a meaningful situation, but I’ve played two several times. When Pat White was a redshirt freshman, he and Adam Bednarik shared early in the season until Adam got hurt. I did the same thing at Clemson with Woody Dantzler and Brandon Streeter, so I’ve done it before. Again, the biggest concern can those guys get quality reps in practice and can they get ready. I’ve never done it with trying to get three ready, so we really had to have a plan and Coach Smith, our quarterback coach has done a really good job of getting all three quality reps. Understanding now we have figured out which guys these plays the guys can execute the best and our packages, as we mentioned earlier kind of adjust them accordingly.”
Question: When are you going to slim that down to maybe even two quarterbacks?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t know if you can. You’d like to, but I really hope they all keep progressing. If one of them starts to digress or not play as well, whether it is in the game or practice, then you can adjust accordingly. But if all three are playing well and they continue to grow in the offense and I would expect all of them, not just the two freshmen to do, then let’s keep going; it’s a nice problem to have.”
Question: Play all three of them?
Coach Rodriguez: “Sure. Let’s not make it bigger than it is. People say, you got to settle on one and all that. I have yet to settle; if all three are playing well, you don’t have to.”
Question: (Multiple people asking questions over each other).
Coach Rodriguez: “No it’s not. It’s not typical. So it is untypical, so you better have a plan. You can't just go out there and say all three will play. You have to have a plan. When do you want to do that. I’ll say that now. The games are different. When the games come on and you get into certain down and distance situations and all that, it changes. Now I’ve planned for all three of them and I will talk to them. I’ll eventually say all three of you got to get ready as if you are going to be ‘the guy’ because at some point of the game you may be ‘the guy’ and you are going to have your opportunity.”
Question: During the game you’d ride the hot hand I’m guessing?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well sure, if a guy is playing very well and we’re driving the ball up and down the field, you don’t want to take him off to cool him off. That’s the same way as the other one. If he is just having one bad play, you don’t just jerk him because of one bad play. It’s a little bit more difficult that way, there is no question about it, but that makes it more difficult for too. So we’ve adjusted in our preparations so the game should be much different.”
Question: The PAC10 changed some things with travel, not staying in hotels during home games, some Big Ten schools are bussing more; have you guys looked at that?
Coach Rodriguez: “We’ve talked about a lot of issues in ways that we can help with the budget and I think we have in some respects, breaking camp a little earlier, Thursday instead of Saturday and doing some other things. We use the university busses and most teams when they travel, they will take big Greyhounds and we use the campus busses. For us in particular because we have so many guys that live off campus in different parts of the town that we need to get them together on a Friday night.”
Question: Have you started Western Michigan preparation at all?
Coach Rodriguez: “Oh yeah. We actually started before the first two weeks was over, but we will get it more this week and doing it every day now.”
Question: How much is in there?
Coach Rodriguez: “From our team section, when we go 14 at least half of them.”
Question: You talked earlier about how much better this team would be if you just hang on to the ball, can you talk how the returners in particular have been?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. It’s been good so far. Not just that part, but offensively, we had a couple of fumbles the other day, but other than that we’ve really taken care of the ball a lot better. Again, we got to do it in the games until I am totally convinced.”
Question: Will you talk about one of your walk-ons, Jared Van Slyke and how game ready he is.
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah Jared is a neat story. He hadn’t played for us. He sat out last year in his redshirt year, but he’s been very active at safety for us. He’s a smart football player. He’s involved in a lot of the special teams. He’s going to get a chance to play next weekend.”
Question: Does he get good tickets for Tiger games?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well I’ve actually had a chance to go a couple times this year. I didn’t make it, but I’ll get down there next year.”