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Posted on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 2:11 p.m.

Birk's Eye View: Should Tate Forcier sit or play against Delaware State?

By Dave Birkett

Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier is expected to start for the Michigan football team against Delaware State if he’s cleared to play by Wednesday, but maybe a week off would do him good.

Concussion aside - if his headaches continue, Forcier won’t be on the field; there’s never a good reason to take a chance with a head injury - Forcier hasn’t looked like the same quarterback since spraining his throwing shoulder on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Indiana.


The ball slips from Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier's hand during second-quarter action on Saturday against Iowa. (Photo: Lon Horwedel |

He led a game-winning drive in the final minutes against the Hoosiers, and directed another adrenaline-filled comeback against Michigan State. But Forcier is not quite a 50-percent passer since the injury (26-of-53) and has as many turnovers (three) as touchdowns.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference that Forcier’s shoulder is not “very limiting at all.”

“At least it wasn’t an issue at all in the ball game,” Rodriguez said. “When I saw him (Monday) he didn’t complain at all about the shoulder, and it has not been much of an issue with his trainer.”

A person familiar with the injury said Forcier’s sprain was barely considered Grade 1- the least severe - but it still appears to be affecting his mechanics. His release point is lower than normal, and he isn’t fully loading his arm before throwing, the person said.

In Saturday’s loss to Iowa, Forcier had several balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and seemed especially cognizant of avoiding hits. Michigan’s leading rusher on the season with 61 carries, he dove short of defenders or veered out of bounds nearly every time he ran.

“He and (backup quarterback Denard Robinson) aren’t real big guys yet physically,” Rodriguez said. “They’re not 220-pound guys, so you want to limit the amount of hits they take.”

Forcier, listed generously at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, has been limited in practice each of the last two weeks and did not work out Monday because of the concussion. Rodriguez said that lost developmental time has contributed to his recent inconsistent play.

For that reason, Forcier could benefit from playing Saturday against Delaware State (noon, Big Ten Network). Reps are always valuable to a young quarterback, and a 1-3 FCS team should, in theory, provide ample opportunity to learn.

But that’s all the more reason to play Robinson this week, or at least keep Forcier on the Eli Manning quarter-and-a-half plan.

As Michigan’s only legitimate backup, Robinson needs as much work as possible in case the vulnerable Forcier goes down. So far, Robinson’s six-game career consists of mostly designed quarterback runs - not read-options, straight quarterback sweeps and dives - and three interceptions in 15 pass attempts.

He’s beyond raw, not totally unexpected for a freshman, and playing a full game would do him a world of good.

More importantly, it would do Michigan good. The Wolverines (4-2) need Forcier healthy to navigate their grueling final five games (at Illinois and Wisconsin, home against Penn State, Purdue and Ohio State) and make a respectable bowl.

After a 4-0 start, the last thing the program needs is to spend December in Detroit dining on Hot-and-Readys because its quarterback got clipped in a meaningless October game.

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.



Thu, Oct 15, 2009 : 9:52 a.m.

@ After Harbaugh got hurt, they started going more pro-style to utilize his talents and avoid getting him injured... by the time '86 rolled around (his senior year), he was competing with Vinny Testaverde for the Heisman and the NFL's attention... plus UM started running more wishbone with Jamie Morris, Gerald White, Bob Perryman, and Thomas Wilcher all being very capable backs...

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 4:28 p.m.

djuninho, Harbaugh played in 84. He got knocked out in MSU game, separated shoulder. The reason we went to pro style Qbs was because option football came to an end


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 12:24 p.m.

I think that everyone should remember that freshmen players are 18-year-old kids. Health, academics, and safety are tied for number 1 items of importance in college sports.. Disagree? Ask a player's mom or dad.. If a player is hurt, regardless of who it is, let them rest and heal!


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 12:13 p.m.

I think the coaches need to teach DR to set his feet and use more fundamentally sound QB mechanic's to throw the ball. Throwing on the run to an outlet guy 10 yds downfield is fine. But he is throwing too many off balance, one footed, falling away pass like the one that got picked off at the end of the Iowa game To me, these are coaching issues that need to be addressed and worked out and tested during game situations. DR needs to show the ability to learn from these kinds of mistakes quickly, or I agree with impeach-09. He will be better off moving positions next year once we get some real options at backup QB. This kid is an awsome talent and needs to be on the field more, at any skill position, period. He should definetly play more then Tate this week. No matter what happens, don't put Sheridan in unless we are up by 40 points... :-)


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 12:06 p.m.

Denny Franklin, Jon Wangler, Michael Taylor, even Jim Harbaugh... what do they have in common? They were scrambling QB's who all got injured during their UM career. Harbaugh started out as an option QB don't forget, and missed the '84 season through injury... Rick Leach was the only mobile UM QB who didn't suffer a major injury in his career... There's a reason UM went to big, pro-style QB's from Elvis Grbac onward: they were less susceptible to injury, even if it did take away the run option. Tater is a brave warrior... but I agree with maizenbluedoc in that our fears he'd end up like McGuffie (or Wangler, et al) may ring true... let's hope he heals quickly!


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 11 a.m.

I wonder why people are wondering about Tate's confidence being shattered if he is yanked from the game? The problem is Tate is a bit too overconfident after his initial successes. Once he played a few games, other defenses know his habits better and are able to better defend him. This will continue unless his knowledge base increases and takes his game to a higher level. Although I am a strong supporter, he did look like an ordinary freshman against Iowa. I think Robinson has the potential to be every bit as good as Tate. He has not yet had he time to get there that Tate has had at Michigan. Tate is playing dangerously. His shoulder is bothering him more than we know as far as I can tell. For me his concussion is a serious issue and he needs to be kept out of the Delaware State game unless Robinson fails to deliver. Robinson needs to learn how to read defenses and he won't get there unless he has a chance to play.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 10:37 a.m.

Tate is 6'1"?!? No freaking way. I met Tate and he is no taller than me. (I am 5'10") I don't want to see him play a single down this game. If Denard and the defense can't win this game for us then we are a truly sorry squad.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 8:41 a.m.

Please stop displaying the picture of Tate dropping the ball -- focus on the positive.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 8:39 a.m.

Tate should rest. Richard Rod needs to rest that young man. We have some very BIG games coming up: PSU, Wiscy on the road, OSU. We need to try to win one or two of those really tough games. Our only meaningful win this year has been against ND at home. We will see if ND is a much improved team over 2008, when they play USC on Saturday -- that will be an interesting game. I am also interested in watching Iowa at Wisconsin. We will see if Wiscy can rebound. Other than the UM game, it will be an interesting weekend of college football. GO BLUE.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 4:11 a.m.

REDCEDER s sole purpose for his life is to defame someone he doesn't even know. No matter what the article, he is always going to try to bring it back to RR. How credible are all these claims when its obvious this is a personal vendetta? Get a life of your own instead of trying to dishonestly tear others down. Loser.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 1:24 a.m.

having played QB (granted it was in high school) and having had a minor concussion it all depends on how "minor" it is. i was out for 3 days then i was cleared and continued like nothing happeend. but a kid i knew growing up had a minor concussion and ended up playing after he got cleard medically and made it through the whole game then passed out went into a coma after the game. lost his life. head injuries are not something to play around with. having said that it should be 100% a multi step deal. if they clear tate medically it should then be up to tate to tell the coaches if he is good to go and they need to sit him down and make sure that he knows its ok to sit out if he isnt ready. then the coaches need to make a decision. regardless of wheter he plays or not his playingtime should be very limited. just enought to get reps and maintain his game speed timing plays with recivers then get him out. denard needs as much pt at quarterback as anybody. and i did say quarterback. he has tremendous arm and great potential just needs to gain his confidence.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 1:13 a.m.

If Tate is healthy enough I would let him play one quarter with no QB runs and some passing both pocket and roll outs, just to get his confidence up heading into the PSU game. After the 1 st QTR, I would turn the game over to Robinson and force him to throw more than run, and if we have a large lead in the 4th QTR let Sheridan and Cone play a few drives. UM 55 DST 16 (most points scored against 3rd string D in the 4th QTR) I hope we can go 4-4 in the conference and finish at 8-4. I'm starting to think this team is better than I had thought just a few weeks ago.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 10:54 p.m.

After watching a story on "60 MInutes" last Sunday about concussions in heavy contact sports I think it would make a lot of sense to limit Tate's game exposure. Maybe allow him to play just enough to keep his timing sharp. Then give Denard a LOT of time to play the rest of game to give him experience. And Michigan has some great backs that can help carry the load.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 10:45 p.m.

I thought I read in hockey that if you have a concussion, you have to go close to a week (or at least many days) without experiencing headaches. What's the college rule? Doesn't sound like there is one besides no more headches.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 9:29 p.m.

Admittedly, I don't know much about Delaware State. And after Toledo/App. State, I really don't take Michigan games for granted anymore. GoBlue...PA, I don't think sitting Forcier out is about his performances the past two week--I think it's about his welfare. I don't have a problem with Forcier sitting out, in that case. We need him well, especially against Penn State, and it does seem kind of clear the shoulder has affected him (btw, that source close to Forcier is, I believe, his brother Jason--Jason has made some comments to the effect of Forcier's shoulder is more of a problem than anyone knows, according to ESPN). I don't think Robinson needs to play a full game...but I think he needs to play more than he has. It will help both him and Forcier. Hopefully, Michigan can rely on Brown and Minor to run the ball.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 8:55 p.m.

After a 4-0 start, anything less than 8-4 would be disappointing, imo. That said, Michigan should win this one to get to 5-2. I personally feel that Robinson should play the majority of the game, but agree with goblueinNE that Tate should play for a TD drive or two to get his confidence back before playing PSU. This is a game that Michigan really needs to blow open to get some of the less experienced guys some game time before our final stretch drive. Playing turnover free and shutout defense would be an added bonus as well.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 7:32 p.m.

I disagree that Tate should sit this week. Look, he's had 2 subpar performances. The thing he needs more than anything is to get his feet back under him and have a good game, even if it is against Del. St. Confidence is key, not just for Tate, but for the rest of the team in Tate. They know what happened to Sam last year too. Getting another strong performance, say for a half, will go a long way toward getting the team prepped for the 2nd half.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 6:59 p.m.

Denard would definitely benefit from getting substantial playing time this Saturday. He needs to get the experience of being QB even when the play isn't designed particularly for his skillset. He still tends to play like he's on the playground -- hogging the ball because he thinks he's the best player on the field. Let Forcier rest, and let Denard develop the experience and maturity he needs.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 4:35 p.m.

It is easy to see why Denard Robinson is being groomed for QB when he would clearly make a better WR/SLOT guy. RR knows he needs the body there. In a couple years when we have depth at QB, DRob will be moved to his NFL position, but for now he is the only one there after Tate. If tate is cleared I would start him, but we need to see a healthy dose of D Rob and even Nick Sheridan this week.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 4:35 p.m.

uaw- I agree football is tough on the body.They will learn that when you have learned to put togther a complete sentence.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 4:23 p.m.

My worst fears have become a reality. I stated early in the season that unless Tate stopped playing with reckless abandon, he would suffer the same fate as Sam McGuffie. His size does not allow him to play like a 230 pound RB. He also needs to realize that there are 10 other members of his team. He appears to thnk run, or scramble before attemptiing to locate his receivers. He needs to read the defenses and use the run or scramble as a secondary or tertiary option unless a particular play is called for him to run. His career at QB will be extended if he plays intelligent and not just macho man type football.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 3:50 p.m.

Concussion(s) cause micro lessions which leads to memory loss....when will these fools learn they macho sport will shorten their quality of life