Rodriguez Is Dealing With Frustrations In Ann Arbor

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Rich Rodriguez knew his first year at Michigan wouldn't be easy.
Rodriguez didn't expect to call the Wolverines soft almost midway through the season, but he did just that following an embarrassing loss to Illinois.
"The worst thing you can do is watch us on film and say these guys are soft and lazy," Rodriguez said. "I'm not saying we're being lazy, but we've played soft."
Michigan (2-3) has its worst five-game record since starting 1-4 in 1967, two years before Bo Schembechler came to Ann Arbor, and is danger of snapping its streak of 33 straight bowl appearances.
The Wolverines have a chance to build confidence against Toledo (1-4) on Saturday at home, but Rodriguez is wary.
"There's an element of danger when you play any school that's probably not one of the so-called BCS conferences," he said. "The players get really, really excited about going into somebody else's stadium, the big stadium, the big arena and having a little chip on their shoulders to prove themselves."
Even though the Rockets are coming off a 31-0 loss to Ball State at home, coach Tom Amstutz said they're eager to play at Michigan Stadium.
"They're looking forward to the opportunity to go up there to play on the big stage," Amstutz said.
Despite being around 45 miles away, the Rockets are about to play the Wolverines for the first time.
Toledo showed it's at least capable of being competitive with a good team, pushing then-No. 25 Fresno State to triple overtime before losing at home by one point.
But the Rockets opened the season by getting routed at Arizona, beat Eastern Michigan, gave Florida International its first win in a lopsided game and were shut out by Ball State.
"We have really good leadership, and they can quickly refocus," Amstutz said. "Playing in the Big House is an exciting challenge for all of our players."
Michigan's challenge might be focusing on Toledo and not looking back or ahead.
Rodriguez said his team better be ready for the Mid-American Conference matchup sandwiched between conference games against Wisconsin and Illinois and upcoming contests against a pair of ranked opponents -- Penn State and Michigan State.
The Wolverines are 24-0 against the MAC, including a 16-6 win this season over Miami of Ohio.
"If guys let down, they shouldn't be playing football for Michigan or anybody," Rodriguez said. "You work all year to play 12 Saturdays with the hope to play 13."
If Michigan doesn't figure out a way to play harder and better, the season might end against Ohio State for the first time in four decades.
"We're eager to get back out on the field," quarterback Steven Threet said. "We obviously don't like how last Saturday turned out."


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