Some notes and quotes from this morning’s practice at Kindall/Sancet Stadium.
• Rodriguez said if he does play multiple quarterbacks this season, he’d rather stay away from switching quarterbacks in the middle of drives.
Instead, it’s more likely he would make a change after a drive if he sees something he didn’t like, or wanted to run a specific package with a quarterback.
His thoughts: “It’s harder in the middle of a drive. I don’t want the quarterbacks, whoever is out there to think they’re going to come out. If they make an egregious mistake, yeah they’re going to come out. The little mistakes, a little overthrow, or a little underthrow, or something like that, it’s not something where they have to look over their shoulder. It really depends on how they’re playing. If a guy is playing well, he isn’t coming out. If he isn’t playing well, he probably is coming out. It’s pretty simple.”
• Jerrard Randall has clearly lost ground in the quarterback competition and very likely won’t be the starter.
Randall, an electric athlete, has experience at wide receiver and could conceivably bring his athleticism to another position. But Rodriguez said this morning he’s hesitant to move Randall, because he’s still making progress at quarterback.
“He played wideout before,” Randall said. “He’s got so much to learn at quarterback. He’s got all the skillsets you want. I’m afraid if we move him, he’ll lose his progress that he’s making right now at quarterback.”
That would suggest to me Rodriguez is still hoping to use Randall at quarterback in some capacity early in the season. As we’ve alluded to before, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Randall have a package or two of plays designed specifically for him.
• Even though he has to sit out this season after transferring from Cal, Rodriguez is pleased with offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa.
It sounds like Tagaloa will be this year’s DaVonte’ Neal — a talented player, who has high enthusiasm and a good work ethic.
Rodriguez said: “Freddie is a natural born leader. The best thing about Freddie is his work ethic. Here’s a guy that has to sit out and won’t play at all this year, and he’s one of the first in the weight room and the last to leave. He does extra every day after practice. He just loves the game, and I think that rubs off on a lot of guys.”
Playing on the scout team, Tagaloa will certainly help the defensive line improve this season.
• If you've ever read “Three and Out” the book that focuses on Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at Michigan, you know how mad he can get when his quarterbacks don’t trust the timing of his system.
Wolverines quarterback Tate Forcier routinely had a problem with it, and it drove Rodriguez crazy.
The coach has stressed that his system and terminology isn’t that difficult. The biggest adjustments quarterbacks have is trusting the timing and believing the receivers will be where they’re supposed to be.
It sounds like Randall and some of the other quarterbacks are having some issues with that this spring.
Rodriguez’s thoughts on it: “I’ve been screaming at them a bunch because it’s not like we just woke up yesterday and told them about the timing of their drops and all that. A lot of people in the shotgun, they don’t have a particular timing, they just throw it in a window or have a mental clock. For us, it’s been worked on for 20-something years about this particular timing. I get frustrated and Coach (Rod) Smith gets frustrated when they don’t trust the timing. Once they trust it, everything else becomes so much easier.”
• Speaking of quarterbacks who had the timing down, B.J. Denker’s presence has been a welcome one for Rodriguez and the quarterbacks, the coach said today: “I like having him around, just so we can ask him ‘what did you think of this or that?’ He’s a smart guy. He has played in the arena. I’m happy he’s with us.”
• Rodriguez said kicker Casey Skowron was in the lead as the placekicker coming into training camp, and has had a good camp, but he’s not ready to name a starter there yet.
Virginia Tech transfer Ethan Keyserling could handle kickoffs, while Skowron takes on field goals. Freshmen Josh Pollack and Jack Flatau are also still in the mix.
• It sounds like DaVonte’ Neal will get the first crack at punt returner, which is hardly a surprise. Jared Baker is likely to be one of the two guys on kickoff returns.
T.J. Johnson, Cam Denson and Samajie Grant will also likely see action in the return game.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.