Birk's Eye View: Dissecting the quarterback battle, other practice observations
Michigan coaches met over the weekend to set a tentative depth chart, but Rich Rodriguez wasn’t in the mood to share who’s No. 1 at the quarterback position Wednesday.
“All three of them” are, Rodriguez said.
True freshman Tate Forcier was first up in Wednesday’s installation period, as he has been much of the fall. He took the first set of No. 1 reps, then Denard Robinson worked with the second team, then Nick Sheridan replaced Forcier with the ones.
Forcier followed with some second-team reps, then split first-team reps with Sheridan, and Robinson closed out the walk-through with the twos.
Rodriguez said he has no concerns with continuing to split reps almost evenly as game week approaches. Already, Michigan is spending about half its time in team period on Western Michigan, Rodriguez said, and there’s a chance all three quarterbacks could continue to play throughout the season.
“People say you got to settle on one and all that, I don’t know why,” Rodriguez said. “If all three of them are playing well, you don’t have to.”
Rodriguez said coaches have started to identify which schemes fit which quarterbacks best, and each will have a different part of the playbook tailored to his skills.
“I don’t know if you (rotate quarterbacks) play to play, but it could be a guy in for one play and out,” Rodriguez said. “It wouldn’t be a constant thing like that, and I’m never going to put the quarterback in a situation where he has to always worry about looking over his shoulder, ‘if I don’t play well on this play I come out.’
“I don’t think that’s fair to do to them. So it’s not going to be pull them in and out based on one play or how well they play on one play.”
In all likelihood, Forcier (and maybe Sheridan) will get the bulk of the base offense, while the speedy Robinson has a handful of run-option plays that highlight his athletic ability. Robinson is more than a Wildcat sideshow, but he needs a fuller grasp of the playbook to be an every-down option.
"I've heard that thing where if you're playing two you don't really have one or whatever. I’m not sure that’s true," Rodriguez said. "Again, having past experiences with guys that played - when Pat White was splitting time we had two. Woody Dantzler the same way. I’m still hoping we have three. I’ll know for sure after the game if at least we have two because they’re going to get their chance."
A few other practice observations:
â€¢ Rodriguez said running back Brandon Minor will occasionally be limited now through next week in an effort to keep him healthy for the season. He and Carlos Brown worked first-team at running back Wednesday.
â€¢ Robinson was first up in a punt-team drill and made one fair catch in traffic with two defenders invading his personal space. Odoms and Carlos Brown also worked on returns.
â€¢ I spent a few minutes watching the defensive backs in individual. I counted multiple drops for projected starting safety Mike Williams and backup Vladimir Emilien, and J.T. Turner didn't make much of an effort on one pass thrown wide that glanced off his fingertips. Don't read too much into that, though. Rodriguez said Williams has had a good camp and Emilien, to my untrained eye, appears to have as much initial burst as anyone in the secondary. Not sure Turner's ready for a prime role yet, but he has the best body of any defensive back.
Dave Birkett cover the University of Michigan football team for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-662-2552