Rodriguez looks ahead to 2009 season
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez held his post-mortem news conference Monday and addressed many of the issues on his growing to-do list for the 2009 season. He does expect more attrition on the roster but not a dramatic amount of departures. So far wide receiver Zion Babb, defensive tackle Jason Kates and safety Artis Chambers have left.
Still, he admitted not everyone has committed to the plan and the direction.
"As far as buying in, I think the majority of them have," Rodrgiuez said. "But there is a handful that still maybe question things themselves, maybe their confidence, their role, how they can contribute. And I think that's typical everywhere in a transition year. But it wasn't as much as maybe I thought. But, again, until it's a hundred percent, then you don't know what you have.
"Everybody, as we move forward, will be guys that play for Michigan first and foremost and believe in this program and this university, and if not, then they won't be playing for Michigan. It's as simple as that."
After his "get a life" comment was overblown in the days leading up to the Ohio State game, Rodriguez was asked whether he'd be more tight-lipped in the future. Thankfully, he doesn't plan to become Lloyd Carr Part II.
"It's a big boy world," he said. "So I understand that. I've been there for a little bit. It does make you I guess want to be a little more reserved at times. That's not my personality. I want to be open and honest and transparent I guess is the proper word. We'll be that. I'll continue to be that. Doesn't mean I don't get ticked off when somebody writes something that ain't true. That's what happens."
Other notable items from the news conference included:
- Rodriguez expects the competition at quarterback to be wide open as Nick Sheridan and Steven Threet compete with two incoming freshmen he can't currently discuss (Shavodrick Beaver and Tate Forcier). Justin Feagin will be moved to slot receiver.
"They really tried hard," Rodriguez said of Sheridan and Threet. "Now, they're going to have to compete. But they're going to have to compete with everybody else that comes in."
- Michigan has three nonconference games set for next season: Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan. A fourth game has yet to be finalized.
- Seven or eight incoming freshmen are expected to enroll early, which could make things easier in a season where Michigan once again will use a lot of young players. Rodriguez reiterated the need to increase position competition, particularly at the quarterback spot. Speed will be his main priority in recruiting, and he wants to stockpile defensive backs for next year.
- Rodriguez has no plans to hire a special teams coach despite some issues in the return game. Michigan had an all-conference punter in Zoltan Mesko and a pretty solid kicker in K.C. Lopata.
"You can hire Knute Rockne, he's not going to make sure the guy catches the ball on the kickoff return or punt," Rodriguez said. "We had more drops and fumbles on kick returns and punt returns than I think in my entire coaching career combined in one season. And we tried everybody. But we'll try even more."