You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 10 p.m.

Michigan running back Brandon Minor barely plays, hardly talks

By Dave Birkett

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Brandon Minor wasn’t in a talkative mood as he walked to the bus after Michigan’s stunning 38-13 loss to Illinois Saturday.

Why was he used only in pass protection early?

“I don’t know,” Minor said.

Whose decision was it that you would play so little?

No answer.

What happened on fourth-and-one? Did you talk your way into the game?

"We didn't make it," he said. 

Minor, Michigan’s best running back, played just a handful of snaps Saturday, and at curious times.

He went through warm-ups despite a lingering high ankle sprain, but got on the field for just one snap - a third-and-eight play in which he served as a blocker - in the first half.

Minor’s next appearance came early in the third quarter, when he seemed to talk his way into the game on fourth-and-goal at the 1 after starter Carlos Brown was stopped three times for no gain. Minor took a handoff and spun across the goal line, but his touchdown was overturned on replay when officials ruled his elbow first hit the ground.

He didn’t see action again until the final two minutes, when he returned as a blocker with the game out of reach.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez indicated Minor was limited by injury, but didn’t fully explain why he used the senior in the way he did.

On fourth-and-one, Minor went in “just to give us a big physical guy,” Rodriguez said.

“When you get some of your key guys (injured), from (center David) Molk to (receiver Martavious) Odoms to Minor it doesn’t help,” Rodriguez said. “But we had our opportunities offensively and just didn’t finish it.”

Martavious Odoms out

Slot receiver Martavious Odoms was listed as probable on the Michigan injury report Thursday.

By Saturday, he wasn’t playing at all as effects of his knee sprain continued to linger.

“I’m OK,” Odoms said. “Still a little swollen, but that’s about it.”

Sophomore Roy Roundtree started in Odoms’ place and led Michigan with four catches for 92 yards, including a 76-yard catch-and-run.

Rodriguez said Odoms, who didn’t practice much this week, tried to play but couldn’t.

“Hopefully a couple more days,” Rodriguez said. “He’ll be OK.”

Smith sees improvement in Forcier

For the first time all season, freshman quarterback Tate Forcier played every meaningful snap for Michigan at quarterback.

And while he was unable to talk with the media following the game, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said he felt the San Diego native is improved.

“I thought he did better for the most part,” Smith said. “But he has got to learn how to handle the ball, and I have to do a better job coaching him on how to handle the ball.”

Forcier completed 13 of 23 passes for 257 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked three times and fumbled three times, losing two. Mentally, at least, Smith said he hasn’t seen Forcier falling apart.

“In terms of where his head is, it’s where any quarterback should be,” Smith said. “Studying, breaking down film of the opponent, working on the fundamentals and techniques. One game isn’t going to define a season. One win isn’t, either.

“So we are going to have to keep trudging. We obviously haven’t played our best football obviously, in the past couple of weeks. We’ve got to find a way to get back to the way we were playing football at the beginning of the season.”

Leach replaces Ezeh

Walk-on Kevin Leach made his second start of the season Saturday in place of Obi Ezeh.

Rodriguez said the change was made to get more speed on the field.

“We thought they were going to do more spread and they did,” Rodriguez said. “Kevin’s pretty athletic.”

Ezeh, who had started a team-best 29 straight games, played only a handful of snaps against the Illini. He declined to talk after the game.

“We obviously didn’t play well defensively,” Rodriguez said. “We missed tackles and that was upsetting, and then probably more upsetting to me is when the ball’s on the ground it seems like it’s laying there for an eternity and we aren’t able to get on it.

“We got to look at everything that we’re doing and try to fix it before this weekend.”

Out of time

Michigan appeared to catch a break late in the first half of Saturday’s 38-13 loss to Illinois when running back Mikel Leshoure was knocked out of bounds after a short second-and-nine gain.

But when the Wolverines sacked Juice Williams on the next play, Rodriguez waited more than 20 seconds to call timeout, eventually stopping the clock with 27 seconds to play.

Rodriguez said he didn’t call timeout immediately for two reasons: He wanted to set up a punt block and he didn’t trust his team on punt return.

“I was still a little nervous,” Rodriguez said. “They were kicking with the wind and fielding punts, so I figured we’d go after a punt maybe and if we don’t get the punt it’s still just a few seconds left on the clock.”

Michigan didn’t block the punt and took a knee to end the half.

Earlier in the game, Junior Hemingway fumbled a punt, a problem the Wolverines have dealt with for two years. Hemingway was playing in place of Odoms.

“If we wouldn’t have wanted to go after it I would have taken a timeout earlier,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to at least make them punt and go after the punt and see if we could block it. We didn’t block it, but that was the reasoning behind that.

“If we had a mistake there, they wouldn’t have had much time to capitalize on it.”

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.

- Michael Rothstein contributed to this article


Man in the Mirror

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 10:01 a.m.

if they go to bowl game and get blown one who wants to be in a winning program will want to come to UM. These recruits follow these teams and coaches just like the coaches follow them. They know where they want to go BEFORE any of the real recruting starts. All of the "visits" are for leverage, travel, and looking good.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 9:51 a.m.

Funkwazzi... you're right on about the play calling. Creativity seems to be void at many times. This is the offense that's supposed to keep defenses guessing??? Not from what I've seen beginning with the MSU game. RR has said that their first couple of series are scripted which explains their success in scoring early in games. But they don't adjust the offense when the defense figures out what they're doing... they just keep throwing out the same half dozen plays. Another thing I wonder about is what they talk about during half time - they seem to come out even less prepared. Look how many times they receive the ball coming out of halftime and go 3 and out. That's UNACCEPTABLE! If they squeak a win against Purdue, I'd almost rather not see them get a bowl invitation. However, because a bowl invite provides additional practice time (which they need) and recruting benefits, I hope they get something so they can carry it into next year. The downside is that it would likely be another loss because we can't win on the road and it would be another poor showing for the Big10 during the bowl season.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 8:40 a.m.

funkwazzie, other than, "i thought he was a great hire", my sentiments exactly. Ban The Red Wristband! Go Blue! v


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 8:39 p.m.

I heard Mat Millen was headed for Ann Arbor to meet with Mary Sue Coleman about the AD job...


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 7:06 p.m.

Funkwazzie,I agree w/ you on the play callin'!I'm with you there Brother, BUT,we all know Obi IS NOT the answer!!!Have you been watching him this season?Yeah he might be up their in tackles but hell,when you sit back and let guys either run 5 to 8 yds. through the line before you tackle them(remember,he IS a mike LB.!He's supposed to lead the team in tackles-he lets RB's run right to him instead of POPPING them on or behind the line)or let WR's catch passes right in front of you(how about a pick sometimes!How many of those do he have?)you will have the most tackles on team.But Obi has been struggling with pass coverage and gape assignments(and even if he leads the team in tackling,he misses ALOT of sure tackles also!)So RR had to try Leach one of these games.He really can't win w/ either decision b/c both players are struggling this season (well Obi Is) with consistent play on field.Get 'em nxt week and GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 6:38 p.m.

First of all, I don't think Minor is Michigan's "best" back. He always has had problems with finding the lane and holding on to the ball. Carlos does a much better job finding the holes and cutting up field. Minor has been hyped too much for doing so little. Really, what has he done beside be a great blocker? And what happened to our "spread" offense during those four crucial downs? Why did they decide to become wisconsin offense for all four downs? By the way, Calvin and RR, if you run a version of the same play four times in a row a pee wee team can catch on. Why not play action? Why is there no help from McGee and RR for their young team? For being such a highly toutted offensive scheme it sure is boring to watch! I understand they're young and mistakes will happen, hell, mistakes happen with seniors. But the play calling is atrocious! How about a little creativity that we all keep hearing about? I know, maybe you could send someone in motion! At least it might get the D to think a little bit. Instead they come out and line up like a video game. Or send recievers underneath for when the D blitzes instead of running 10-15 yd routes on third down. Tate doesn't have any time because he's waiting 4-5 seconds for them to come out of their routes. Play calling, execution and adjustments are the most important aspects of the game. They can help any team win against better opponents (i.e. Appy State). It seems like they have none of those aspects. Poor decision making all around. Which brings me to my next point. Obi Ezeh. What the hell? You decide to take a team captain off the field for a freshmen who doesn't even have a name on the back of his jersey. Nothing against Leach but Obi is one of the top tacklers and smartest players you could put out there but you make him stand and watch from the sidelines?! Wow! I thought you want to put the best players on the field not the fastest. "Speed" is only relivant on break away plays. Quickness and speed of decisions is what matters. Speed isn't going to break a block or make a tackle or hit the right gap. If I remember correctly it was mainly Leach's fault on that long touchdown run for being WAY out of postion. Ezeh most likely wouldn't have done that. Lastly, did anyone catch last monday press conference with Troy Wofolk? If not go to to check it out. During his interview he was asked about his pressing style when he plays corner. He said that was his style, which I love. Then he was asked if that's a coaches decision on the play called. This is where is gets interesting. He said that coach robinson, mainly on first and second downs, lets his db's decide how they want to play their man so that they are comfortable. Um.........What?! We are nine games in. At what point as a coordinator or head coach do you decide to make decisions? No wonder the D is worse than last year! They are less talented in the secondary, yet they allow their players to decide to give a 10 yard cushion on 2nd and 5 or whatever. Wow again! I want this to turn around in the worst way for the coaches and the players. But with decision making the way it is and the digression of the team throughout both years so far, it's not looking so good. I want to believe RR can turn this thing around. I thought this was a great hire, but mine and others confidence are dwendling. I still think he deserves more of a chance than what most people are giving him. I mean we have a walk on starting. Nothing against Kovacs, but do teams like USC, Ohio State, Florida, Penn st. have 2nd year walk ons starting? Three games left, hopefully the coaches can figure out a way to help their team out.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 5:25 p.m.

Gee guys, I really want to quit drinking the Kool-Ade, but you all make it near impossible. Everyone knows you give a guy 3 years. Do you have any idea where we are in the recruiting cycle? Even a clue? You all are the types that want it all now. THe mistake was made 2 years ago when we hired a coach with a differrent system. If we were playing the same system as before and losing, that's one thing. I'll give you credit, the defense has no excuse, defense is defense. But we haven't had a good "D" since 1997, or did you all forget how you were screaming for Lloyd's head after he lost to Northwestern in 2003 54-51? RR has lost the team, I think. Something happened between Delaware State and PSU. Maybe it was before that, maybe the Iowa game when he replaced Tate with Denard. As for Minor, he has the high ankle sprain. That is what took out Mike Hart. Guys, you don't come back from that during the year. I have supported RR since he came here and I thought we were about to dominate the Big 10 next year,what with the glimpse of the future we saw in the first 4 games. But since then, terrible. Has to be a reason why somewhere. Molk? Maybe. That's my 2 cents for now.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 4:32 p.m.

These were baffling personnel decisions on Saturday. Minor is our best running back, even slightly hobbled. Not only that, he's a senior who can offer some leadership and stable influence in the huddle. Why did he hardly touch the ball? Why did an undersized Vincent Smith get more carries? On the disastrous goal line failure, they should have used Minor from the start instead of the last play (in my opinion). And putting in Leach vs. Ezeh at the Sam linebacker? Leach may be quicker, but he's only 206 lbs. and has a lot less experience. Ezeh has had his struggles, but he leads the team in tackles and should have been out there. I think when the rest of the team sees seasoned veterans being yanked out of the starting lineup for questionable reasons, it can cause morale to drop. And this team appears from the outside to be suffering from a drop in motivation and fire. It's got to be happening for some reason.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 10:49 a.m.

Is it bad when a player wont even speak his own coaches name? Minor is pissed, but hes also smart enough to know hes going to face "Torture Tuesday" if he speaks his mind.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 10:11 a.m.

aarox, Once again, I'm with you. Why wait? This season is not over, and RR has THREE GAMES left to prove himself. If he can't get this team to rally around and play competitive, mentally tough football over the last three weeks, I see no reason to give him yet ANOTHER chance. If he can get the team to rally and beat Purdue (which they should, given Purdue was 3-9 last year and has a FIRST year HC), and play competitively to the bitter end against Wisconsin and OSU, then he may deserve another shot. He's got to PROVE (NOW!) that he's capable of overcoming adversity. He's failed miserably in that regard for two years now (three if you count Pitt at WV). If he falls short, he's out of chances and it's time to move forward. Like Kubrick, I will always cheer for Michigan. I'd just like to see the players lead by a true leader, not simply the innovator of a scheme with no ability to lead.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 9:54 a.m.

Rich Rod shouldn't let go the previous UM coaching staff. Now this bad decision has came back to hunt RR. For example Erik Campbell is now the wide receiver coach for IOWA and the have the best season ever. Sadly, RR has stupidly given up gold for ash.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 8:22 a.m.

rensational, why next year? why not this year? lets see a little decisiveness!


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 2:42 a.m.

I'm sick of hearing about how this or that is this player or coach's fault and how Michigan's "got to do a better job" with this, that or the other. Just get it done. Talking isn't going to make it so. Michigan looked today like Illinois has looked most of the season. I also agree with Kubrick66--I think Michigan is headed back to the 60s, i.e. before Schembechler, with RR. I just hope the new AD is not one of those blindly pro-RR people who lets this go on for 10-15 years. Next year needs to be put-up-or-get-out time.


Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 10:06 p.m.

Sadly RR and his staff are digging their own grave and taking the Michigan program with them. Where are the fundamentals? I'm not talking leaps and bounds here, just fundamental progress. Team is getting worse at every position. It's now official... I fear for the future of Michigan football - But win or lose will always root for the helmet. It's a helpless position to be in. Go Blue!