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Posted on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 8:57 a.m.

Rich Rodriguez pleased with Michigan football team's progress on offense

By Dave Birkett

Michigan has one of the Big Ten’s worst defenses for the second straight year, but coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday he’s pleased with some strides his team has made offensively.


Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier looks for an open receiver earlier this year. Forcier has 1,424 yards passing and 214 yards rushing this season. (Photo: Lon Horwedel |

"We expected to make some because we had some guys coming back on the O-line and some skill positions,” Rodriguez said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “The X factor was quarterback. We didn’t know how quickly our young guys would be able to step in. That’s obviously the key position, so we’ve been OK.”

Michigan (5-5, 1-5) leads the Big Ten in rushing and scoring offense, averaging 12 points more than it did last year.

True freshman Tate Forcier has struggled with turnovers, but he’s been a clear upgrade over Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan at quarterback

Threet and Sheridan combined for 1,718 yards passing last year with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Forcier has 1,424 yards passing in 10 starts.

He also ranks fourth on the team with 214 yards rushing - more than Threet or Sheridan had last year - and is completing 55.4 percent of his passes. Michigan completed less than 50 percent of its passes last year.

“We’ve been a little inconsistent in some of our Big Ten games,” Rodriguez said. “But there’s also been some pretty good moments. So I’ve been pleased with our progress somewhat, but I know there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Rich Rodriguez admires Barry Alvarez
• Rich Rodriguez and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez have been friends for some time. They grew up near each other - Rodriguez in West Virginia, Alvarez in Pennsylvania - and got to know each other when Rodriguez's West Virginia team played Alvarez's Badgers 7 years ago (Wisconsin won, 34-17) and have stayed in contact ever since.

"I’ve always thought an awful lot of what he’s done there to build that program and that whole athletic department," Rodriguez said.

Rich Rodriguez on Wisconsin
Rich Rodriguez on what worries him about Saturday's game at Wisconsin: "The question’s always how much they can control the football game and they’ve done it just about every week with their run game and their big offensive line and their big backs. They keep the ball, they keep the time of possession and then their defense has played so well. ... You got to do all you can to not let them control the game like they have many times this year."

Purdue coach declines to discuss post-game meeting
Purdue coach Danny Hope refused to address his post-game handshake exchange with Rodriguez last week, when he brought offensive lineman Zach Reckman over and blamed Rodriguez for getting Reckman suspended earlier this year.

"I'm not even going to elaborate on it," Hope said. "I made a statement after the game and I’m going to stick to it."

On Saturday, Purdue released a statement in which Hope also declined to elaborate on what happened.

Rodriguez on the 4-0 start
Rodriguez on whether he could have envisioned fighting for his bowl life after starting the season 4-0: "I never really thought too far ahead. I think that was one reason why we had some success early is that we just had the attitude, OK, what's next. ... We've taken that approach. We've had good practices and good focus all season, we just haven't played well recently like we think we're going to have to if we want to win."

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.



Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:09 p.m.

Lets see bump wr at the line? gee would that work? Sometimes I wonder about these clowns coaching defense now im not saying fire RR but I am saying he has to cut ties with his WV buddies who are coaching the LB,s and the secondary because these bums cant coach I mean I have been saying it for the last 2 yrs bump the wr at the line give the line a chance to get to the QB dont let him sit back and pick us a part what a bunch of stinking pansies on defense they hit like petit little girls they play scared theres no nastyness in this bunch the way MICHIGAN use to play defense mean and nasty not this bunch of pansies except BG


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 3:19 p.m.

How about defense? I noticed there was nothing on one of the worse defenses in the country. We got a new defensive coach this year that is still running the same defensive schemes we were seeing the past two years. The current defense is terribly one dimensional. Why don't they try playing up and bumping receivers occasionally? Playing off 10-15 yards opens up the run and short pass. Penn state found out last week what happens when you do that too often. Offense has yet to prove itself against a good defensive team. Too inconsistent. Turnovers is an issue that the coaches don't seem to be able to address. I guess ball control drills are not a priority for RR. RR still is playing the blame the players game which is unfortunate. It would be nice to see him take some responsibly once in awhile.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:31 p.m.

Now I know you're joking...


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:23 p.m.

And look how well Petrino is doing in the SEC in only his second year. I'm not saying I'd want him as our coach, I'm just saying most quality coaches are doing far better at this point than RR is doing at Michigan. And yes, there was a high quality QB here when RR took over...THAT cupboard was NOT bare.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:18 p.m.

We all want them to win...that's why some of us are upset when they don't and we see RR as the major change in the program that is causing it. I'll be cheering like crazy this Saturday against Wisconsin, too. I'd love to see these seniors have something to hang their hats on when they graduate. Also, I'd love to go to work on Monday and not have my coworkers out here in Arizona tell me (again!) what a joke Michigan football is becoming. I can only fall back on the history argument for so long...


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:51 p.m.

Great News. Wisconsin is only favored by 7 points. That means that UM has a good chance to pull a huge upset. That seems so strange to write, "UM trying to pull of a huge upset at Wisconsin"!


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:44 p.m.

Let's see the BEST offense in the Big Ten: Western Michigan Notre Dame Eastern Michigan Deleware State RR has proven that we can pound on really bad teams. I'll be much more impressed if we pile 500 yards on OSU.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:02 p.m.

chosen1 go join all the other fair weather fans and go support Justin Boren, we don't need you. RR will win,and please don't pretend you know what goes on with Barwis's program and improvements.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:48 a.m.

We are not pleased with Rodriguez' progress, schmuckeyes or Bust r.r.! Ban The Red Wristband! Go Blue! v


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.

All the offensive stats are great, but the turnovers are horrible. The fumble against Purdue (why would you run an option play from your own side of the field while up by 2 TD's?) completely changed the momentum of the game... you can't blame the defense when they keep getting handed a short field by the offense...


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.

theo unfortunately we haven't seen anything positive from Barwis so far. We have seen our team struggle in the 2nd half in both seasons. He was over hyped and has more than failed to deliver on what he said would happen. In 2 years of training there should be some big improvements. You can go work out at the Y and you will see a noticable difference in 2 years.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:02 a.m.

An improvement would be 3 Big Ten wins as opposed to the 2 last year. Piling up yards and points against the Delaware State's of the world doesn't impress me much.