Question: How is Junior Hemingway doing and what do you hope to get out of him in the Big Ten?
Coach Rodriguez: “He should 100%. He practiced and did everything yesterday. He looked pretty good running around. He should be fine.”
Question: Can you describe what the Pistol is?
Coach Rodriguez: “It has some variations of a power offense, downhill running game with the power and inside zone. It combines with a little bit of spread principles. It puts him back in the shotgun a little bit. It really got popular a few years back with Nevada and a lot of people have different versions of it. They seem to have taken to it pretty well. They have a big offensive line, physical running game. There is some deception involved with it as well.”
Question: They were spread before in last years?
Coach Rodriguez: “Last year and the year before, they did more spread principles, some similar things to do what we did. The Pistol incorporates a little bit more of a downhill running game. It is almost like an I-formation yet using the shotgun.”
Question: How much adjustment do you have to make defensively when going up against it?
Coach Rodriguez: “Not much, there is some. From adjustments from facing spread teams. Every defense throughout the course of the year, you see all kinds of offensive schemes. So you go from spread to West Coast to power. This again is a combination of a little bit of a spread principle, but more of a downhill I-formation type of running team.”
Question: Do you think it helps your defense that you guys space the spread fairly regularly?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well not really, not in this regard because there is so many different principles from a spread running game to a Pistol running game. There is some correlation but most of it is more familiar to somebody being in the I, just with different formations.”
Question: As associated as you are with the innovations of the spread, what are your thoughts on the Pistol?
Coach Rodriguez: “Again, I’ve said this many times, the schemes are overrated. I think you just need to have a system that has answers to problems you’ll face in various schemes and personnel. We run a gambit of formation and people are surprised when we go under center or go in I backs, and we do that on occasion. Most offenses have a variety of things and it is not just one particular scheme or formation that you have to defend. The Pistol gets popularized because it is kind of new; it is like the ‘Wildcat thing’. People that use the wildcat usually only use 10 or 12 snaps a game, but that’s all they talk about. I think it is really just defending an offense and what the answers and things they do scheme wise.”
Question: Have you ever looked into running the Pistol?
Coach Rodriguez: “We have versions of it. We can do some of it. But again, you got to do what you do and try to do that well. It is more about execution and getting the players to have talented players doing the right thing as opposed to what particular scheme that you want to call yourself.”
Question: Is there a particular aspect of it that is difficult?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah when they block well, run well and throw well (laughter) that’s the part that is most difficult. I know that sounds like coach speak, but really that’s the truth. After you break down the schemes and look at it all, it comes down to guys up front getting on blocks and then having enough to keep you off balance. Indiana does a great job of mixing in some bootlegs and play-action passes off of that. I think that’s what makes them effective that they have great balance and then when you have balance in your offense and keep the defense from loading up the box or playing just the pass, then you are going to be okay.”
Question: Is David Moosman okay and will he be the starting center?
Coach Rodriguez: “David had a good practice yesterday. He’ll be ready to go and he’ll start at center. Rocko Khoury is there and Tim McAvoy looks like he’ll be back and he can play both center and guard.”
Question: John Ferrara starting at guard for then for you?
Coach Rodriguez: “It could be John Ferrara at guard or we could move Mark Huyge down and start Perry Dorrestein at right tackle. It really depends on what goes on the next couple of days.”
Question: How did you feel about regionalization or nationalization of officials, essentially removing conference affiliation?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well, I think there has kind of been a push the last couple of years to have everything…the rules are the rules but different officiating crews emphasis one thing more than another. I think there has been a trend to emphasis the same things each and every years. By and large, I think they try to do that but nationalizing officials, I don’t think it is a bad idea, as long there is a way that they can all kind of communicate and be on the same page. I think when a crew works together, I think they get really good. I think sometimes when you get mixed crews, it makes it a little more difficult, so that I think would be the only challenge of nationalizing crews is guys not always working together at the same time. I think our league does a good job. The leagues that have been in the past have always done a good job of having officiating check them and having some accountability. There are always calls. There is a couple of calls in the last game, I’m sure we’d like to be reviewed or have over again, but their human and they do as good as possible and they all take it very, very serious.”
Question: Is it maybe a perception as well, just maybe for fans and even for coaches to maybe remove that tag?
Coach Rodriguez: “I think so, sure it is. I think coaches sometimes worry about, oh this guy is from Ohio and he is officiating Ohio State game or he is from Michigan and he is doing a Michigan game. These guys are professionals. The officials and I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them; they take their jobs very, very seriously. The head of conference officiating takes their job very, very seriously and their doing the best they can. Do they make mistakes? Sure they make some just like coaches make a bunch. I think again, by and large they do a very, very good job and sometimes when they’re inconsistent it bothers you a little bit but for the most part they’ve been very, very consistent. Again, there is a few calls we’d like to have back, but I think those guys do a really good job in tough situations.”
Question: Is Brandon Minor ready to go?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t know. He’s better today, but really limited to what he can do during the week and you got to be able to practice some to play on Saturday. We held him out yesterday for the most part. Today, he’ll do a little bit more. For him it is going to be a game time decision, again, see how it feels in warm ups, but I’m hoping every week it gets a little bit better.”
Question: Is safe to say that Carlos Brown will at least be starting?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah again, you got to practice a couple of days to be the starter and Carlos has not missed a beat, so Carlos will be the starter again Saturday, but Mike Shaw has shown that he can play and we’ve got try to get Vince Smith some carries as well.”
Question: Is it more than the ankle with Brandon?
Coach Rodriguez: “No it is just the ankle. It is kind of the higher part, so it’s a nagging thing, but he gets treatment every day. He comes out and tries what he does and Brandon will be out there as soon as we let him.”
Question: After three games, what do you like most about Coach Robinson?
Coach Rodriguez: “Greg is a great people person. He does a great job of communicating. He’s obviously got a lot of quality experience and he loves coaching here. He’s doing a good job. Sometimes, we’ve got to be patient because it is their first year in the system and I can see so many things that we are going to be able to do more and more in the future, hopefully as the season goes along that Greg wants to add to our package, but they’ve done a nice job in the first year of just teaching some neat things and kids have taken a hold of it.”
Question: Is there anything specific as a people person that he has done?
Coach Rodriguez: “Again, he’s got experience as a head coach; he’s been around a good bit. When I first talked to him about coming, we didn’t even talk about x’s and o’s. I talked about developing chemistry on the staff and developing chemistry on the defensive guys and being part of this family and this close group that we have already and I knew that when I talked to him, because I had known him pretty well personally and again it has been everything that we thought.”
Question: Does the team get flu shots and is that a concern at all?
Coach Rodriguez: “It is up to them. It is their individual decision and talking to our trainers, they’re very aware of what is going on. We’ve got a few kids sick, and I don’t think it is the ‘swine’ flu, but maybe a little cold here and there. As soon as we find out their sick, we quarantine them and try to keep them away. Having all these 120 guys in close quarters, we have hand sanitizers everywhere. We keep reminding them about cleanliness and not just amongst themselves but in the dorms, classrooms and all that. Make them very cognizant of what’s out there. Because it is scary if this starts infecting your team, it could really disrupt things. We’ve been fortunate so far, but the flu shots per se, I don’t think truly come out at least from my understanding until later in the fall. When they come out, if the guys want to do them, they will do them.”
Question: Have you had to keep people away from the team recently?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah we’ve had a couple of guys. Again, I don’t know what type of sickness they had or whether it is just a common cold, but it has been some of the younger freshmen and I don’t know if they will be out here today at practice, but we’ve kind of kept them quarantined a little bit until they get better.”
Question: When you see it happen at place in the conference like at Wisconsin, does that almost make you more alarmed because of…?
Coach Rodriguez: “I think the whole campus has been warned about it earlier, because it was quite common that it was going to hit throughout the country. College campuses I think are a natural place because there is so many people who live in such close quarters and classrooms together and all that that you are going to naturally spread more and more and there is not much you can do about it. You just got to prepare as best you can in case it hits you.”
Question: In your mind, who is the favorite to win the Big Ten with conference play starting this week?
Coach Rodriguez: “Oh I don’t want to predict that. Whatever you say is probably going to come back and to get you one way or another. I don’t know who picks the preseason thing, but usually they understand who has got the most players or starters coming back, the most talented team coming back, what have you. I think the Big Ten is very, very competitive. Everybody kind of gets on the Big Ten a little bit, but I think our league is a lot better than what the perception is out there and I think the nonconference games showed that a little bit and in our league, we’re going to beat each other up a little bit over the next eight or nine weeks.”
Question: Can you give a quick assessment of how you think your program stands right now heading into Big Ten play?
Coach Rodriguez: “Well I wish we had some of the guys that weren’t hurt, but I think everybody can probably say that at this point. I like where we are at, at a focus standpoint. Our execution is not perfect but it is getting better. We are 3 and 0 and that is the best you can be after three games, but we’ve got a lot of work to do and our biggest challenge is in front of it.”
Question: It is sprinkling now and there is rain in the forecast; do you do anything to get ready for some rain?
Coach Rodriguez: “There is a forecast for a chance of rain on Saturday, I kind of hope that we would have a little bit of rain to get used to that. We had a little bit of that last week and it was really wet. I wouldn’t have one day this week where we get used to wet balls in case we have rain on Saturday.”