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Posted on Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 12:20 p.m.

More on Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson and the decision

By Dave Birkett

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez appeared unhappy with Tate Forcier’s decision-making on the drive before he lifted the freshman quarterback from Saturday’s 30-28 loss to Iowa.

But Rodriguez denied there was any rift between the two in his post-game press conference.


Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, above, defended his decision to replace Tate Forcier with Denard Robinson on Saturday night's final drive, and said there's no rift between him and his quarterbacks.

AP photo

“Words? There was no words on the sideline,” an irritated Rodriguez said. “Are we already going to start off and try to create something that’s not there? We were coaching. Tate has been - our guys are very, very coachable. There haven’t been any players have any words. I don’t know where that comes from.”

ABC sideline reporter Lisa Salters said Rodriguez was “very displeased” after the three-and-out early in the fourth quarter that started with a delay-of-game penalty (after an Iowa touchdown) and ended with Forcier scrambling wildly from the pocket and overthrowing Junior Hemingway.

When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”

Michigan coaches barred Forcier and his replacement, Denard Robinson, from speaking with reporters after the game.

Robinson led Michigan on an 11-play, 59-yard touchdown drive in his first series midway through the fourth quarter, then was intercepted in his second with 46 seconds to play.

Forcier, who led Michigan on game-winning fourth-quarter drives against Notre Dame and Indiana, spent most of his first series on the bench huddled in a hooded coat. TV cameras showed him encouraging Robinson before Michigan's final possession.

“Tate was right behind us in the last drive, rooting on and trying to help out Denard and all that,” Rodriguez said. “Tate made some plays. He made a few plays that he’d probably like to have back, but we made a change to get a little spark and Denard gave us a little spark. At the end we just didn’t finish it off.”

On his interception, Robinson missed part of a play call coming from the bench.

“I think he missed a little individual tag route that we give him,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “So if he did, that’s probably why he threw the ball down the field like he did.”

Notes, quotes and leftovers
• Iowa converted 7-of-11 third downs in the first half, including five gains of 10 yards or longer. The killer was a 47-yard pass on third-and-24 when safety Mike Williams got run by in deep contain.

Ricky Stanzi made a nice throw on the play, as he did on several deep balls Saturday, and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos made a nice catch to set up Brandon Wegher’s 1-yard touchdown run.

“We got beat. A guy got beat,” defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. “A guy in the middle should have been there. We had good coverage on that play other than where somebody should have been, so I have to look back at some of that stuff. And of course, any time they convert on third down I’m disappointed. We’re not there yet to where we’re going to be consistently shutting people down on third down yet. We’re just not there.”

And when will Michigan’s defense be there?

“I don’t know that,” Robinson said. “Time will tell. We’re making improvement though. I think that there’s little things every week that I see that I know that we’ve grown and improved, and we improved today. We were better today than we were last week.”

• Robinson wouldn’t say what areas he was pleased with, but several defensive plays, players and series stood out Saturday.

First, Donovan Warren had coverage on several big passes - the 47-yarder and a 33-yarder earlier in the same drive on a third-and-6 - but credit on those plays goes to Iowa’s receivers. Warren had his third pick in as many weeks against Iowa and is starting to become the playmaker many hoped.

Brandon Graham continues to live up to expectations as well. Graham had two sacks against the Hawkeyes, giving him three for the year, and continues to be a one-man wrecking crew. He had a foolish roughing the punter penalty (that was declined after Greg Mathews dropped a punt), but it’s hard to find many more flaws with his game.

Michigan’s goal-line stand, when it stopped Iowa on fourth down from the 1, shouldn’t be overlooked either. Iowa should have scored on fourth down, when Stanzi’s play-action left him with a clear path to the end zone. Regardless, the Wolverines deserve credit for getting off the field at a crucial point in the game.

• Michigan hits the halfway point of the season 4-2 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten play. No team has won or shared the conference title with that may defeats since 2000, but Graham said not to count out the Wolverines.

“Four-and-two, it’s still not bad,” Graham said. “We’re still not out of it. We can finish out, we can win out. We just showed that we’re going to fight, so you better keep coming.”

• Rodriguez on Brandon Minor, who ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the season: “I know he had the one fumble there. They did a nice job raking it out, but boy he ran hard and he’s a physical presence and we’re different. When Brandon Minor’s healthy, I think we’re a different offensive team.”

• Michigan ran the ball successfully and almost exclusively of the I-formation on its third-quarter touchdown drive. It's a package the Wolverines have used sparingly under Rodriguez, but one they set a physical tone with Saturday.

“At that time we thought we had them on their heels a little bit and we were able to go a little bit higher tempo, and so I think the tempo and the combination of tempo and coming downhill at them worked out OK,” Rodriguez said. “I wished we had more opportunities to do that, but we just didn’t.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 12:29 p.m.

@ amaizenman: Yeah, but State didn't pay a $4 Million buyout to get Dantonio like UM did with RR. Plus RR makes $2.5 Million a year, so the media should be hypercritical if he's making the big bucks... UM showed him the $$$, now he needs to show us some W's!!!


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.

As a long time M fan, I am getting sick of the local media, sports writers and others continuing to look for negative in the M program under RR. When MSU looses 3 in a row to inferior teams, giving up huge plays and committing turnovers, nobody is calling for Dantonio's head. Nobody is questioning what is wrong with their program. Give it a break. RR needs to bring Tate back down to earth a litle. He has began to believe the press clipings and he hasn't played as well consistently lately. If he indeed was texting an ABC sideline reporter just before leaving the locker room Saturday night, he needs to step back and re-evaluate himself. To lose by 2 pts with 5 turnovers to 12th ranked team in the country that previously destroyed 5th ranked PSU, shows proof we are coming. RR is a passionate emotional guy just as are many top coaches in country that sometimes yell at players on the sidelines during games. Watch Dantonio's actions on the sidelines. I'll be glad when we are back on top and don't have to listen or read all this crap.


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 11:19 a.m.

Lisa Salters reported Rich Rod was "Very Displeased" with a three and out! Really? I guess he should of been elated! Your right, lets run this guy out of town! How dare he get mad at a mistake! Are you kidding me.......I guess we should use the" Everybody Wins Rule" Another great choice for a sideline reporter. Great Reporting Salters........................... Lynn Swann where are you?


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 9:53 a.m.

@ redceder1: Agreed with you that it sure would have been fun to see Mallett out there throwing surgical strikes throw the Iowa D. He even ran for a TD against Auburn. Boren would have provided the protection, and Erik Campbell the big NFL-prototype receivers for Mallett to throw too. It sucked to see Campbell on the Iowa sideline!

Big Ten Fan

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 9:43 a.m.

"Teachable moments", "you have to remember these guys are just freshman". It did not appear that RR's expectations were aligned with these comments. He indeed appeared hostile with every mistake his young QB made. His expectations appeared more aligned with those reserved for a seasoned leader/senior. He has incredible power to give/destroy confidence. The fall here could be severe. Wow! The young freshman QB has accomplished more in 5 games at Michigan than TP at OSU in a year and half. Praise in public and support and make recommendations for improvement in private. I hope the coaches do an honest self appraisal. Go Big Ten!

David Briegel

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 9:29 a.m.

Bump Elliott was the last Mich man to coach Michigan! They won the Big 10 and went to the Rose Bowl in '64 and beat Oregon St. They lost the national championship that year by 6 inches when QB Bob Timberlake was stopped just short on a two point attempt.


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 9 a.m.

iowa is horrible...the iowa qb is horrible...michigan should have won the game


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 5:11 a.m.

How can the coaches expect the players to remain calm on the sidelines, when the ooach panics? RR can say for the press, and the apologists, that there was no problem, and sitting Tate was not punishment, but if you were there, you know that's not true. The issue isn't 4-2 and what fans expected to this point. Just like last year, just as he was willing to throw away so many games, and toss last year's seniors under the bus, we have lost 2 games to coaching. We may have expected no better than 4 - 2, at this point, but we did not expect that RR would get outcoached by Dantonio, of all people, and then panic at Iowa, and then did not give us our best chance to win at the end.


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 2:37 a.m.

Tiny little baby hands are Tates big Problem. He couldnt pick up a soft ball in the rain with only one hand.


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 1:03 a.m.

tate's a leader we needed on the field not just speed were talking about QB not RB if michigan going any were tate will be leading them there just watch if Denrard starts


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 11:17 p.m.

One of the things I miss most about Michigan football is a coach with class. RR's antics on the sideline is embarrasing to the U of M.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 10:29 p.m.

Yes we have one more win than last year but the same mistakes keep rearing their head. The punt fumble looked like a clip from ND last year. The losses look like last year also. At 3 losses per year people were questioning Carr and yet 4 times that in a year and a half we should be patient? We should be seeing progress on both sides of the ball. Saturday most of the offense was running up the middle out of the I formation. Hardly a RR innovation. Defensively we are terrible on 3rd and long. A TE who had been out for several weeks becomes offensive player of the week. Way to help him shake the rust. We will not be playing for championships till we strighten out the D. Iowa had went 30 plus quarters without allowing a rushing TD. We are lucky to go 3 minutes. Team toughness and physicality just seems to be lacking. We also were told we would be in better condition than anyone else and yet I do not see us dominating fourth quarters or any other for that matter. With the remaining schedule I do not necessarly think we will make a bowl. Penn State and OSU will be very tough and most of the rest a toss up. For those of you saying Delaware State being a sure thing; remember App State. Ask MSU about lighting striking 2 or 3 times. A lot of coaching is still needed.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 9:43 p.m.

"we needed a spark" I'm not really understanding that response? I could be wrong, but was not Tate's drive before his last 3 & out the drive where they marched right down the field with Minor? How is having a solid touchdown drive then followed by a 3 & out needful of "a spark"? I'm behind Rich and have been, but he knows today that he made a big mistake - he's just not the type of coach to admit it. Denard Robinson, no matter how much of talented play maker he is, will never be 2 minute offensive QB. If coach really had issues with Tate - whatever they were - he should have put Sheridan in the game to at least give some kind of a passing game.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 8:57 p.m.

As for this whole bandwagon jumping thing, I may be wrong because I admit I don't read every single post, but I don't see anyone jumping ship. There are a lot of fans who want to win and want to win NOW. Nothing wrong with that. That is the type of pressure and demand that makes Michigan a winner. We wouldn't put up with a John L. Smith for 4 years, or whatever State did. We're better than that. Were the fans who wanted more from Carr and still criticize him to this day bandwagon fans? I can't say for sure, but I don't think so. Unlike many of those Carr bashers, I'm not calling for RR's head and don't know of many who are. We are calling for victories. I certainly think RR has through next season minimum to get this thing going. Does he need to start at least beating MSU, PSU, and competing with OSU? Sure. But, as Lloyd will tell you, that's the expectations here. And in my opinion, those expectations are part of why Michigan is great.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 7:19 p.m.

tater wrote, "UM almost beat Iowa on the road with five turnovers. That is a great accomplishment for a young team and shows a lot of progress. Nobody expected this team to be 4-2 at this point, and they were outscored by a total of two points in regulation of two tough road games combined." No one expected them to be 4-2 at this point with home games vs. Indiana, Eastern, and WMU? That's setting the bar a bit low I'd say. Getting beat by MSU and Iowa hardly sets us up to run the table. I'm not quite sure how criticizing a coach who's been a Wolverine 36 years less than I have makes me a "bandwagon-jumping Wal-mart-ines", but you sure made my case for rationalizing another RR loss.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 7:18 p.m.

Hey AZ, In my opinion, you're giving OSU waaay too much credit. OSU's decade run is almost over just like UM's run ended in the 90's. In fact, if 2 teams ever mimicked each other in a 10 year period, it would be OSU and UM. I don't know if you read my follow-up post on Iowa's defense being overrated. 33 quarters doesn't mean squat when you don't play anybody. Hence, an unranked UM squad gashed them for 3 rushing touchdowns! This is the same for OSU--who have they beaten? Where's the win over a quality opponent? In fact, where's any quality win from a b10 team outside the conference. No, I believe the difference right now between UM and the rest of the b10 conference is that THIS program no longer wants to be stagnant. Sure, it's been difficult to watch these last 2 weeks but the growth between this year and last year is clearly evident. As a fan, what I want from RR and this program is to be a national contender. Not a fan who celebrates a coach who has to have his whiny QB throw a TD pass at the end of the Illni game to bolster his stats--and then try again a week later in the Indiana game and throws an INT. OR a team that "supposedly" has the best defense in the country and then gets rolled in "big" games. I don't want UM to be transparent--I want them to be dominant! I believe this team CAN run the table becuse there are NO dominant teams in the b10--at least not yet! Go Blue


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 7:15 p.m.

Poorrod was "looking for a spark." His play calling is supposed to spark things. When Forcier followed Poorrod's orders, and no spark came, Forcier was relegated to scapegoat. Poorrod brings in Denard, with the worst turnover to attempts ratio in all football history, to manage a winnable game, and, like, turns it over. Now, who lost the game?


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 7:15 p.m.

All right, I like RichRod. I think he's taking the team in the right direction. We have either won every game or had the chance to win in the last 2 minutes - quite a difference from last season. But last night's loss is all on his shoulders for 2 reasons. First: Forcier didn't play well. He knew when he screwed up. He didn't need RR screaming at him, he needed encouragement. RR needs to build up the kid into a man. Screaming at him won't do it. Second: No matter how bad Forcier is, Denard is not the better option when they need to pass. He's been intercepted on 20% of his pass attempts this season. Tate is at 2.6%. Gotta play the percentages. DR is not ready to be a passing QB. Come on RR, step up and take the blame. Don't dump it on the kids.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 6:45 p.m.

Rich, Watching you on the side line you and your coaches looked so uptight I couldn't help but wonder why? Michigan actually out played Iowa overall and played a tight game in spite of (5) turnovers. I think you and your staff are the best thing to happen to the Michigan football program in a long time. Your fresh. QB's can't take anymore stress and fear than they already face from the media, opposing teams amd themselves. Lighten up and let the guys play without internal fear. I think your demeanor and relationship with the players was less hostile and more supportive during the first (4) games. You smiled alot on the field and the players responded with heart and skill. They are going to make mistakes and you and your staff have to work harder to COACH them through the mistakes. I see the light at the end of the tunnel for Michigan Football. You have the next Tim Tebow running your offense give him his head. From Georgia


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 6:39 p.m.

Have been a supporter if RR even when everyone else was freaking out last year. But you cannot convince me that it was the right call to put DR in on the last series. You have a QB who has been there and delivered and instead you go with a running QB who has never had to make a game-winning drive like that? Makes no sense. Denard brings a lot to the team, but not with 1:30 left and all you need is a field goal. He should have never been put into that situation and that is all on the coach. Just like last season (Utah, etc) Coach's poor decisions costing the win.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 6:34 p.m.

Way to kill Forcier's confidence.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 5:33 p.m.

raddes, I agree with your assessment that TP is nothing special. However, where OSU shines is in the fact that they play championship defense and they win the turnover battle. That's Tressel's formula and, while the Bucks gag on the national stage, it works to perfection in the Big Ten. If Tressel would just loosen his vest and let his offense go in big games, it would probably work on the big stage, too. Defense and winning the turnover battle is what works for all great teams. Check with Florida and USC, too. Those teams are more explosive only becuase their coaches open it up more, albeit with two different systems. In my opinion, the offensive system doesn't matter so much. You can score points with any system run well. It's the defense and turnover margin that will win you a championship. Right now, Michigan is losing on both fronts.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 4:42 p.m.

Hmmmm, let's see..our freshman quarterback threw a pick with a wide open receiver in the flat, "read" inappropriately on the read option (one in which Minor could have broken a huge run), fumbles with a "slick" ball, dances around in a pocket with no rush to assist the defense in pummeling him, and somehow takes a delay of game penalty in a no-huddle offense. PEOPLE, Forcier just didn't have it Saturday night! RR was dead right with this team, they have to earn every victory they get. And right now, if they stop beating themselves, there's no reason this team can't turn things around and run the table in the second half of the season. There's no quit in this team!! Forcier needed the breather and DRob asserting himself some more in the offense only HELPS UM! Year 2, still on track for 8-4, possibly 9-3. As for you OSU, I loved watching another incompetent QB performance from TP yesterday. Better yet, I loved watching him whine to his receivers and to his coaches because he can't complete a pass. I think the Sprting News got it right---you didn't inherit the next Vince Young, you got the next Juice Williams! Worry about your own pathetic QB and team. Go Blue!


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 3:44 p.m.

Was it not also against Iowa in the last B-ball season when Beilein benched Manny Harris in OT and suffered the lost to teach the important leason that the team matters more than the individual? It's a tough lession to endure as fans because there are much fewer games/opportunities for the athletes to redeem themselves and show they 'get it', I hope the gamble by RR works out for both, Forcier and RR. Go Blue!


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 3:31 p.m.

saginaw, I love it. The fanatic fringe thinks that if you question anything about RR, or the direction of the program, you are not a "true" fan. I believe that "true" fans question in order to ensure that our program is heading in a championship direction. Great for the fanatics who have sipped the Kool Aid and know for certain that RR will win us a championship. I hope they're right, but a 7-11 record (including 0-2 to Sparty) in a year and a half leaves many of us with questions and concerns, especially when many of the same problems (turnovers and a defense that gives up big plays) keep haunting us. While I respect the opinions of the fanatics in many cases, they need to learn to respect the opinions and concerns of others as well. I'm all in for Michigan, that doesn't mean I have to be a mindless zombie that accepts losing in the name of supposed future greatness. Michigan was great before RR got here, and now I'm expecting him to get us back there quickly because 7-11 isn't cutting it. PS - don't give me the youth argument. We have a now veteran offense, minus the QB. Carr took us to a Rose Bowl with a freshman RB and QB. Get 'er done, RR. No excuses, get 'er done.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 3:28 p.m.

Prediction. Tressel 8-1 vs. UM


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 2:59 p.m.

100% in for Michigan! Does that mean that we are not allowed to think or talk or write? Michigan needs to just pound Delaware State. Beat them like a drum. Too bad that we can't play Eastern and Western again in 2009 -- we would pound them too. Playing these Big Ten teams is a very bad idea. Whose is so foolish as to force Mighty Michigan to play these teams: OSU, MSU, PSU, Iowa and Wisconsin? We should be playing only the Service Academies, ND and MAC teams. Oh, and the MAC teams without Dan LeFlour -- we might lose to CMU this year. Michigan can be undefeated with the right schedule.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 1:34 p.m.

I think its laughable that some who claim to be Michigan fans can complain about where this team is headed. I am 100 percent behind everything this program does despite the complaints of these loser, so called fans, who come off as sounding like whining babies who dont even understand the game. I dont think it is possible to be that stupid, so I think we should maybe think that these so called michigan fans are nothing but savators from with-in. TROJAN HORSES. They are people who aren't Michigan fans at all, but who purposely attempt to create disention in an attempt to destroy thier foe. It was a great move to put in Denard. We are so fortunate to have the luxury of such a change-up. He drove them down field on the previous possesstion for a td and would have done so again if not for a mistake. Monday morning qbs are fools if they think they know better. Its not RR fault that the team turned the ball over 5 times.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 1:33 p.m.

This week's game against Delaware St should present an excellent opportunity to remedy some of the deficiencies that hurt our team in the two road games: the defense giving up the big play, inconsistency with the quality of the secondary's coverage, and inconsistency of the offensive line. In any case, the coaches and team got us to 4-2, and we should give Coach Rod and our team full support for the last half of the season.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 1:23 p.m.

Focier has got a big heart and a ton of talent, but hes got tiny little baby hands. He looks like that guy in the BK commercials who doesnt want to eat a Whopper because his hands are so small. Ill bet he wears a size small ladies isotoner gloves. hes going to have trouble holding onto the ball every time the weathers not dry and warm. Did anybody catch the Arkansas game? They have a big Manly Man QB.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 1:13 p.m.

This is entirely implausible. Robinson did a terrific job on the preceding drive but seemed entirely unprepared to manage the clock on the last drive-- wrong skill set and no experience. The RichRod slappies are doing some heavy-duty rationalizing here.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

I thought U-M played with heart and showed good overall effort, but you can't have five turnovers and beat a good team like Iowa. Still, they almost did. The Michigan QBs are talented but showed their youth and relative inexperience in this game. U-M played well at times on defense but gave up too many big plays. The defense is lacking in talent and it shows. They are still much improved over last year's squad, though.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 12:47 p.m.

Hey Birkett... why aren't you and Rothstein ranting about the left-cross thrown by Iowa player. Shouldn't he be given a game suspension? You guys have been strangely silent on the subject since it was a such a big issue a few weeks back.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 12:31 p.m.

amen easy i for one hope to see richrod stay as i think he will bring mich back to the top of the college football ranks


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 12:26 p.m.

If we start second guessing richrod after that decision, it will only serve to undercut what he has done this season. He used the same logic going into the final drive of the MSU game: At State, Tate led a late TD drive, but then threw an INT. At Iowa, Denard led a late TD drive then threw an INT. Sure Denrard may be more of a running QB, but Tate was off and richrod went with the spark. Anyone who gets mad at rich rod needs to step back and temper their expectations. We're 4-2 and on our way to a mid-level bowl game, which should be the next step after a 3-9 season.