Filled with high expectations, Rodriguez told reporters on Tuesday it was never the physical part of the game that slowed him down, but more the mental. Rodriguez was spending too much time thinking with his hand in the dirt.
Now with multiple years in offensive coordinator Tim Beck's system, Rodriguez says the game has slowed.
"My mental game I guess I would say it was young," said Rodriguez. "In previous years, it was at a different level. The tempo of the game - especially our tempo - taking it all in, thinking about the play, what I'm doing, looking at the blitz, looking at what the defense was doing – it's all slowed down for me. When it slows down it becomes a fun sport and you begin to love it again."
Working as the first-team right tackle at the moment, it's not just Rodriguez who's noticed a change in his game.
Rodriguez says Pelini and him are close, but it's been another coach over the last few years that has pushed him the most.
"I'm an introverted person, so the only person I was really close with was Coach Bo. But through the years Coach Garrison has been one of my best coaches to be around," said Rodriguez. "He knows how to communicate with you on an individual level. He's just a great coach. He cares for the game so much and has so much passion. You would think the way he's coaching out here, you can tell he wants to put on the pads and play. He's so passion about the sport.
"He sees tremendous potential in me and is just a big brother that wants me to do my best out there, to keep pushing away."