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Posted on Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:28 p.m.

Grades: Michigan football team mostly below 'C' level

By Dave Birkett

Offense Turnovers were the story again for a team that suddenly looks out of synch offensively. Tate Forcier had one (a fourth-quarter pick), Denard Robinson two (a fumble and interception) and Carlos Brown lost a fumble. Michigan also killed itself with penalties, dropped passes and safety on a bad snap. David Molk’s injury is a legitimate excuse, but the game-opening drive is the only real bright spot. Grade: D-minus

Defense Penn State was more dominant than the numbers would suggest. Evan Royster ran for 100 yards and Graham Zug, Andrew Quarless and Derek Moye all had their way with Michigan’s secondary at times. Brandon Graham had his usual monster game (3 1/2 tackles for loss), but Michigan didn’t force any turnovers again and Penn State scored on a 10-minute second-half drive. Grade: C Special teams Zoltan Mesko had another good day punting, booming a 62-yarder and landing one inside the 20. But the special teams were sub-par otherwise. Chaz Powell returned the opening kick of the second half into Michigan territory, a big momentum swing when the game was still in reach, Brown didn’t provide much spark in his new role as kick returner, and Michigan had a roughing-the-punter penalty. Grade: C-minus Coaching Rich Rodriguez gave Robinson a designed series in the second quarter. Considering Forcier’s play of late, it was a good move that backfired when Robinson threw his interception. Defensively, Zug scored two touchdowns on the same play call, but Michigan coaches deserve credit for using more bodies on defense, including Boubacar Cissoko off the bench on third downs. More than coaching, Michigan was out-talented Saturday. Grade: C-plus 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 26, 2009 : 12:37 p.m.

your d is horrible brown cant cover any body gave up two himself once again tha bucks will beat you and that will make pryor 2-0 against you


Mon, Oct 26, 2009 : 12:16 p.m.

Everybody chime in. That great UM cheer. WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 11:49 p.m.

Graham is a big time player. Warren is the only sign of a secondary on defense.Tate will become a great QB with time and some semblence of protection by his OL. Denard is exciting but needs some maturing. Would love to see Tate and Denard in the backfield at the same time. Who does the defense thn key on?


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 7:43 p.m.

You guys make me sick! You expect too much for a young team. Give the players and coaching staff a chance to develop. The very players you brag about have the most experience. I would like to see anyone of you do better, at this stage, than these fine young men!!!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 7:32 p.m.

Talking about a Bowl and a News Years Day Bowl? MI fans are a hoot. Denial and fantasy are powerful. MI will have a losing Big Ten record! Likely beat ILL and MAYBE Purdue and that is it. You deserve Xmas Eve Music CIty Toilet Bowl. Can't wait for the maize and blue to come to Madison. Wake up to reality. Over rated and ineffective use of top 5 recruiting class year in and year out. Coach Rod is a savior? More like a stroke waiting to happen.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 6:05 p.m.

I'm in FULL agreement w/ Azwolverine!Keep their eyes open and help them see the real!!Tired of the excuses,tired of turnovers,tired of everything being Carrs fault.Can we just come out and PLAY!Execute the game plan?(I know we need better play calling)But lets PLAY!!Where is the heart,intensity,and comprehension of our game plan that we had earlier in season?I guess we will find out against Ill. All In......GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 5:24 p.m.

The disappointment is that they are looking worse then they looked earlier in the season. The defense at least looked bad all season. Its hard to watch a team regress. I'm not going to pretend like I know what they are doing wrong but I know from leading teams that they are not functioning as an aggressive team.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 5:04 p.m.

Tater, Multiple concussion experience explains it all. HaHaHa.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:26 p.m.

I think pete and urban are better coaces then RR doesent mean he isent a good coach..i think what urban and pete had to start with was alot better..the style we ran and do now is night and day...i know floridas offense dident get the massive rebuild we did im not quite sure what usc had but if we get a player likw reggie bush was like pete did we will be ok 2 lol..RR is a good coach if les miles cared about UM he woulda left Lsu to come home he dident cuz he dident want to go through what RR has to and any coach we hired if it was les miles or RR they would struggle cuz we have a lack of talent..and the talent we do have is 2 young or getting ready to leave after this year..coaching cant make up for a gap in talent..And are gap isent a small 1


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

Tate will be in a BCS title game before his career is over. It may not be with Michigan but he will be there. Someone has ripped the guts out of Tate. That spirited skinny guy who sparked the players is gone. Does anyone see a team leader on the field. A football program needs a team leader on the field as well as a coach. Now they have neither. UCLA (close to his home town), Florida and Alabama need a smart QB next year. Just think what Saban would do with Tate. I would like to see him come to Georgia, however I would prefer he stay at Michigan and be coached properly, supported and encouraged. GO BLUE Danny from Georgia


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 1:24 p.m.

maizenbluedoc, good point. Fresh121, what makes you think that Moosman, etc, haven't bought into the scheme? Do you have inside info on that? That's simply your opinion and, again, sounds like an excuse. If RR is a great coach, he should be able to coach up what he's got and make it better. Also, great coaches get players to buy into their systems. If what you say is true and players are still not buying in, that would be an indictment on both the player AND the head coach. I don't believe that's the case, but if some players are still not in, that reflects poorly on the coach. Pete Carrol didn't wait around for 4 years to get exactly the personnel he wanted before having great teams, neither did Urban Meyer who won with Chris Leak, not his type QB at all. Again, if RR is truly a GREAT coach, as are the others I've mentioned here, he should have us running more smoothly than this by now, imo. Don't tell me what was "predicted" of this team. No one "predicted" Carrol's great second year, nor did they "predict" Florida winning a title in Meyer's second year. Those coaches took what they had and made it better. The season's not over, but that's what I'd like to see RR do here at Michigan...and I don't want to wait 4 years for him to get "his" players.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

I only bring up LC cuz its his seniors in places we need such as moosman and others who dont believe in this scheme, i mean with molk different storey but the kids hurt and are oline looked horrible..this is RR team but he needs time like any other coach to get ur teaching guys cant tell me that team at WVU with pat white and steve slaton would have killed us....RR got a team without talent only like 3 good players..BG..BM...ZM....warren was decent...and minor is always hurt..RR is getting better recruits go to to see our recruit class this next year RR knows what he is doing...this goes back to us bein brats cuz were used to winning and never rebuliding well were rebuliding and the future is bright for this team and RR.......Go Blue


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

azwolverine: Maybe some of the injuries could be explained by smaller Michigan players being overpowered by larger, heavier players. You can build all the safety features into an automobile you desire, but I wouldn't want to struck by a semi while driving a Smart car.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:52 a.m.

Bigman, fresh121 brought up Lloyd, not me. This is not Lloyd's team anymore. RR is a big boy and should be judged on his merit, not on the subjective opinion of fans on either side of the issue as to what Lloyd did or did not do when he was the coach. Lloyd's gone and deserves to be left alone. It's like fans of Charlie Weiss who still blame Ty Willingham for ND's shortcomings. The bottom line is, this is RR's team and if fans truly believe in him, they will stop making excuses relating to Lloyd and move FORWARD with the new coach. By the way, I'm completely awake, thanks. As for Forcier, I still like him and think he is better than last year's QB's by far. However, he is taking steps back from where he was at the beginning of the season for a variety of reasons, including injury. The injury bug this team is going through is becoming disturbing to me as well because, as a former trainer (and other fans know this as well), Barwis' program was supposed to help alleviate the injury problems that our previous regime faced under Mike Gittleson. So far, I'm not seeing that. It's not worse than it was by any means, but it doesn't seem to have improved, either.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:50 a.m.

I cannot understand why Forcier appears to think run-scramble first before locating a receiver. He gets into trouble by scrambling while looking for a receiver. By the time he locates a receiver, that receiver is usually covered, thereby creating panic mode for Tate. Why not use the scramble or run by the QB as a last resort. Forcier will become the next Sam McGuffie if he continues to play the macho role. Michigan has some good RB's, why not put some of the burden on them? Oh, I forgot, the OL cannot block very well for the running game.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:39 a.m.

The amount of energy some of you put in complaining and whining on these comment pages is just staggering---and this refers to the other articles from Saturday. Some of you can't get out of the past--referring to Bo and Woody when it's 2009 doesn't make much sense. Some of you disguise your negative comments as "caring,"--recruiting, scheduling, and the general direction of the program are right where they need to be in Year 2. And some of you are already onto the next coach so you can bash them as well--any so-called "fan" who cites firing their coach is not a true fan. If someone stated this team would be 5-3 at this point before the season began---ALL of us would agree that the team was improving and heading in the right direction no matter who the opponents were. I hope some of you are not representing your "logic" on other blogs outside of AA because your comments look foolish and you're NOT the fan UM needs right now. As for the game---it's over, move on. PSU did what they needed to do to win the game--UM did not. All your "drunken" comments from the previous night did nothing to change that. Here's a question for all of you...would you rather be 6-2 like OSU, be ranked 19th in the country, and your "quality" wins are Navy, Toledo, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota? Woody must be spinning in his grave at this schedule(past), all the Suckeye faithful are now QB coaches (caring), and yes, Tressel should be "fired" with the loss at Purdue. Or be 7-1/13th ranked PSU with "quality" wins over: Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. WE ARE/WERE THEIR QUALITY WIN! What an absolute JOKE!!!! Before you just single out UM--look at the whole b10. And just for giggles, even if Iowa runs the table they will not make it to the BCS NC game. (thanks tOSU). 5-3 with losses to Iowa (6th), PSU (13th), and MSU (this hurts a little) doesn't sound too bad--doesn't it? Go Blue and Beat Illinois!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:34 a.m.

Wake up AZ....Lloyds recruits would have not been on the field yet...and because he didn't recruit well at the end we are now forced to play freshman... Yesterdays Penn State game was the first time all year we could not compete playing our freshman and sophs...which will change in the next couple years. Also if your true fan and watched the games you would all realize that just before every turnover or bad play was a tight end or a reciever not catching the ball that put us in bad situations...Wake up Kevin K. and Martel W. I hope we recruit a better class of tight ends. I will take Forcier over everyone in the country because he wants to win and is a MICHIGAN MAN.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:32 a.m.

jaxon5, You make a fair assessment. The season is not over, this is one horrible, awful, inexcusable game that is now behind us. We'll see how we rebound from it and finish the season. Illinois and Purdue are crucial. Can we beat the Big Ten's bottom feeders? Can we bounce back from tough defeats? Can RR beat a FIRST year coach in Danny Hope at Purdue who truly had nothing to build with? In my opinion, these next two weeks are crucial to not only resurrecting this season, but also for giving us a better guage of where this program is headed moving forward.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:24 a.m.

fresh121, Lloyd's recruits never looked this bad when he was the coach. Just saying...


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 9:33 a.m.

The reality of this season is it's still a big question mark with 4 conference games remaining. So far, conference performance is perhaps marginally better or no better than last season. The win-loss record is no better. The defining games will be Ill and Purdue. Can they beat the bottom rung Big 10 teams (Ill and IU) and can they compete with the middle of the pack? We don't know yet.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 8:55 a.m.

This is when the season gets interesting, let's see how blue responds to immediate adversity/urgency when they go to Champaign next week. 3/4's of the season behind us let's hope senior leadership can help get 1st road win. GO BLUE!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 8:35 a.m.

I cant believe that crap you say about 1 of the best true freshmen in the land many anyalist believe that also...with that said i think he is banged up,like are man up there we are spolied fans. When 70% of ur team is sophm. And freshmen..espically at the skill postion...are Oline is horrible but alot of people are still LC recruits...look at WV thats RR players there like 7-1 even though there conference isent that great,we all no RR still needs time to get his players...but listen to all the players last year that are still on this team they all said learning RR offense the 1st year was tough and it got easyer the nextthe same goes for tate he still learning everything pluse the size and speed of the B10..hes 1000000 times better then threet and sheriden.are expectaions of this young team is to high go to a decent bowel and im happy after last year, we all see the improvment from last year and its only gonna get better with alittle time....stay positive UM fans we all bleed maze and blue.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 8:03 a.m.

At best, Tater would make a good Mid-American conference QB. Now that he is playing against better teams, we can now begin to see what his true abilities are. Early on, when he would sprint out and make that little fake throw and then run, teams have that all flushed out now and it won't work. I will give him credit, though for heart. M willbe lucky to win one more game with Tater at QB.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 4:32 a.m.

Let's just face it. We are spoiled fans that wants thing to change fast. But Michigan is still a work in progress. They are actually doing what they are suppose to be doing. This is a young team and not as talented as the experienced teams we've seen in the past. But it's getting there. We are expecting way to much from these guys and they can only produce with what they know at the moment. They are a work in progress and they should be better than last year after a year in the system. They are on course, but we choose not to except it because we are spoiled with success. We have to face it that this is the best they are right now until they gain more experience in games, improve on their techniques and get confidence as a team. We just have to be patient. They still shold make a bowl, but it wont be a big bowl that we are accustomed to.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:55 a.m.

Well, it's fine if Forcier wants to play through injury and post-injury after-effects...I just think 1) the offensive line really needs to help him out more so that he doesn't have to run for his life so much and so that, particularly when Michigan is facing the better defenses in the Big Ten, he is not getting sacked [as much as that's possible], and 2) he needs to make smarter decisions with his body out there KNOWING that he is still nursing these issues. His re-injuring himself or doing things that don't let him fully heal does no service to Michigan--it's counterproductive. At the very least, he's got to stop landing on his right arm/shoulder when he runs. It would be best for him to throw the ball away more and run out of bounds whenever possible. And I would think that's something the coaching staff would be telling him, especially knowing Forcier really is their only option.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 11:30 p.m.

Freshmen, freshmen everywhere and boy the team did stink Coaches arguing confusion reigns made the Blue fans think We can't be proud of a team that young fair weather fans say no Maybe next year we will be proud if the Blue is twelve and O.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:48 p.m.

Hey,lets give the whole team A+ for their EXCUSES also,shall we!!This is starting to sound like a broken record.Michigan doesn't need excuses.Better PLAY CALLIN',but not excuses!We've gotta get better guys,gotta do better!Lets get em' next week.GO BLUE!!!