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Posted on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 5:20 p.m.

Birk’s Eye View: Day 1 practice thoughts on University of Michigan football

By Dave Birkett

Photo: University of Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier hands off to running back Brandon Minor during drills on the first day of practice. (Melanie Maxwell |
I won’t make any bold predictions one practice into fall camp, but after watching Michigan work out for about an hour Monday without pads, I’d give Tate Forcier the easy edge in the battle to become the Wolverines starting quarterback.

The media was allowed to watch five periods of individual work Monday, and Forcier was much crisper in passing drills than fellow freshman Denard Robinson.

Forcier and Nick Sheridan appeared to split the No. 1 reps during Monday’s installation period (though Robinson wasn’t on the field for most of it), then the two worked with the first-team running backs at the start of practice, while Robinson and David Cone went to the opposite hash with the rest of the backups.

During a goal-line passing drill, a member of the football support staff pulled Robinson aside to give him tips on his passing technique. Specifically, where to position the ball during his load.

Maybe this is my bias coming from an NFL beat, but Forcier, Robinson and Sheridan all appear on the small side for a major college quarterback. Robinson, especially, looked out of place under center. (He's listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds.) Then again, Pat White never cut the most imposing figure.

Here’s a few other notes and observations from the first practice of the season:

• Freshmen J.T. Turner and Adrian Witty were not on the field as they continue to await word from the NCAA Clearinghouse on their eligibility. Jason Forcier, who’s seeking an NCAA waiver to play as a transfer grad student, did not practice either. Forcier’s father, Mike, said over the weekend he believes it’s just a matter of time before Jason is eligible to join the team. Forcier did have a locker in Michigan’s locker room.

• There was a great tempo about practice with music of every genre blaring at the start. Even after the sounds died down, players sprinted from drill to drill. New defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said that’s one thing he always admired about Rich Rodriguez’s teams at West Virginia.

“I liked the way his teams competed,” Greg Robinson said. “I liked the way his team, at the start of the fourth quarter took the sprint down to the end of the field. It ticked me off. I swear, from that day of the first game I ever coached at Syracuse, that next week we made sure that we practiced that. And we did it for the next four years.”

• Denard Robinson fumbled one center exchange during individual period. Just wondering here, but I wonder how big of an issue that is with high school recruits these days since most play out of shotgun formations.

• The rough Day 1 depth chart at receiver: Greg Matthews went ahead of Junior Hemmingway in drills at one outside spot, and LaTerryal Savoy drilled ahead of James Rogers and Darryl Stonum at the other. At the slot, Martavious Odoms was first up in drills followed by Roy Roundtree and Terrence Robinson.


Mumbambu, Esq.

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 7:20 a.m.

Wow! It seems as though David Cone has been here forever. Didn't he go to high school with Spencer Brinton? :)


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 4:50 a.m.

Dave: Think Chase Daniel. Or Doug Flutie. If your QB is mobile and the coach actually uses that mobility instead of trying to make a pocket passer out of him, it negates the need for size. Besides, a little bit of small can give a player an extra step of "quick."


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 12:01 a.m.

I vote for the white guy at QB!!


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 10:31 p.m.

I'm glad to see that it was Willie who picked up MetricSU's username! It sounds like Mr. Birkett doesn't like spread QB, since he referred to how small they were compared to pro set QB's. Though, I was a bit surprised that Fourcier seemed a bit weak only being able to bench 120lbs. I hope he spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer. I guess that is the only worry with Fourcier is that he may get injured while running the ball. I hope he dosen't try to be like Tebow!


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 7:50 p.m.

I pledge allegiance to The Blue, Of the University of DRob. And for Big Ten titles, For which it stands; One TForce, under Rod, indefensible; With victory, and bowl wins for all. -Francis Scott MetricSU It truly is a great day to be a Wolverine!! (10-2 or better this year for Big Blue).


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 7:12 p.m.

I thought this was a horrible write up. This rmoore cat, otherwise known as Mr. NFL beat, started the first long awaited report from fall camp with a bunch of unnecessary negativity. I heard on sports talk 1050, from jon bacon, how fast Denard Robinson was and that his accuracy was expected to be a little off today being that it was his first day playing since last fall. In addition, Forcier and Robinson are only 18, they will both probably put on another 15 to 25 pounds in the next 2 years as well as speed and accuracy. Remember, Colt McCoy was 25 pounds lighter 3 years ago, and Tate has the same attributes now that Colt had then. Barwis will bring out everything we need in our players as far as strength and conditioning go. Hey Ann, can we get a better reporter than this? Melanie Maxwell, is that really the best picture you could have posted? C'mon, now we have osu fans responding and their displayed user names reflect their grammar capabilities! GO BLUE!!!!!! IN RICH ROD WE TRUST!!!!!!!!!


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 6:45 p.m.

Tate or D-Rob need to be the starter. I can't stomach Nick Sheridan taking another meaningful snap for Michigan. I'm kind of surprised that Savoy has climbed up the depth chart. I'd really like to see Stonum earn that spot by the time the season rolls around. I noticed you didn't say anything about Jeremy Gallon at the slot: is there any chance he might be redshirted?


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 6:32 p.m.

It looks like Minor is going to fumble that ball, or miss the handoff completely.