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Posted on Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 9:47 p.m.

Tate Forcier proves he's the most complete option at quarterback

By Michael Rothstein

As he ran out of the tunnel Saturday afternoon, dressed for the first time in a game that actually mattered, quarterback Tate Forcier had a tear in his eye.

A happy tear, mind you, but if you’re looking for a point where the Californian lost his composure, that’s about it.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said over and over the past month that none of his quarterbacks had separated themselves enough to be the starter. While he stuck with that mantra after the game, one thing became clear.

He’s got a guy who should start. And his name is Tate Forcier.

The kid has moxie. He has poise, shown when instead of taking off when he saw a hole on his first possession as a quarterback he pulled back, directed Junior Hemingway to a deeper route and the first touchdown toss of his career.

Many juniors can’t make that play, let alone a guy playing in front of almost 110,000 people for the first time. On his first series. In his eighth play.

He’d been preparing for this since Thursday night, when Rodriguez called the three quarterbacks - Forcier, Denard Robinson and Nick Sheridan - into his office and told them Forcier would start. When he left the meeting, he immediately called his mother, Suzanne, to deliver the news.

Disbelief came through the connection.

“She was like ‘You’re starting starting?’” Forcier said. “I’m like ‘Yeah, mom, that’s what starting means.’ She’s like ‘So, you’re running on the field?’ I’m like ‘Yeah, mom, that’s what starting is.’

“And, she screamed.”

So did pretty much everyone else in Michigan Stadium on Saturday when Forcier went through pretty much a flawless statistical day, 13 of 20 passing for 179 yards, three touchdowns and, most importantly for a freshman, no turnovers.

Not every day is going to be like this for Forcier this season. He knows that. His coaches know that.

And if he doesn’t, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith already found things to nitpick from his game Saturday, a couple throws he shouldn’t have made, so Smith can become “the reality” for his young quarterbacks Monday.

But if there was something learned from Saturday, it is that Rodriguez has two quarterbacks to fit his spread option system - Forcier and Robinson. And it makes a difference in everything he does.

“It gives you more of the offense you can run,” Rodriguez said. “That’s a big thing, when you have a guy who can run a little bit out there and they have to account for him.

“It’s more of your offense.”

He has a guy who can run in Forcier, who can also keep defenses honest with his arm. He’s the most complete option Rodriguez has.

And then he has a guy who can run in Robinson. The other freshman took his first snap behind center and almost lost the ball. It botched the reverse Michigan was supposed to run and instead, Robinson took off.

He went right. He stopped. He looked left. He went left. He squirted through two defenders and scored.

“I thought he was still going to have time to hand it off, but he goes the wrong way pretty fast, too,” Rodriguez said. “Usually, if you screw up, you go even faster. So he went a little extra fast on that one.”

What will likely happen is Forcier will be the starting quarterback and Robinson will be the change-of-speed option that will actually be faster than the offense teams will normally see. Forcier is OK with that. He thinks it makes Michigan more difficult to prepare for.

And suddenly, they are.

But as much as this was a day of questions for Michigan, its answer at quarterback is a kid with a perpetual smile from San Diego, otherwise known as paradise.

As Forcier basked in his own personal paradise - a win in his first game at Michigan, in his first start - an assistant yelled at him, telling him he had to go.

He disappeared, running through the 50-yard line tunnel with fans chanting his name. And for the only time Saturday, he felt bad. Relatively.

“I couldn’t get out of there,” Forcier said. “I just felt bad, leaving everybody. That was an unbelievable experience. I’m just so happy.”

For a day, so is Michigan. Michael Rothstein covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Mon, Sep 7, 2009 : 9:53 a.m.

You said it TATER!! and to barks74 you have to be kidding me! After that performance of Nevada a team that got stomped by HAWAII last year! You consider ND's Victgory a Solid? Yeah they are really a power house! And on MSU Give me a break cant wait to get ahold of Big Sister "GO BLUE"


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 3:27 p.m.

Did anyone hear about Terrelle Pryor wearing eyeblack that said "MIKE" under one eye and "VICK" under the other? When asked about it after the game, he said that he idolizes Vick and that "everyone kills people, murders people, steals..." SAY WHAT??? That is the face of OSU's program? I can tell you, I am now 100% thrilled that he chose OSU over UM. Unbelievable. Not only does Forcier appear to be a better QB, he appears to have a far better grasp of reality and morals.


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 2:42 p.m.

grear game just glad I got to see it being in Nebraska but it was on so thar made for a great afternoon


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 11:16 a.m.

look for MICHIGAN in a BCS game this year!


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 11:05 a.m.

I am so proud and believe that this Michigan unit will win 9 games this year, the Big Ten may be a little down and "Blue" is gonna make a run for the Big Ten Title. Michigan needs to get pumped and focused and look to destroy on defense on every single down.Brandon Graham is the Dexter manley of Michigan he has to show why he is the most devastatinf DE in college ball. I predict three sacks for BG and Tate and Denard and Minor and company will be putting a beat down on the Irish next week. Go Blue!!!


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 10:44 a.m.

Michigan was hardly picked apart in the second half. They may have gotten a little complacent in the second half and remember we had on TD called back on a holding penalty, that was Sheridans impressive run to the end-zone. Warren got hit for three PI's in this game, that is inexcusable! Michigan needs to blitz on nearly every down in order to disrupt Clausen next week. Michigan's secondary has to be focused and inspired. I don't think Notre Dame is a wrecking crew because they manhandled the mediocre Wolfpack, so let's not talk about the Irish like they are a reincarnation of Lou's old teams, NOT! Michigan, if they are focused and get heat on clausen early and often, this kid rattles, in large aprt because they don't have a great running game. Michigan can and WILL beat Notre Dame next week. Final score Wolverines 27 Notre Dame 24. Take it to the BANK!


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 10:32 a.m.

Big Win! Loved every minute, with the exception of D Warren's three strait penalties. While we are light years ahead of last year, we are still inexperienced and lack depth, so I'm not ready to change my prediction of 6 or 7 wins. The ND game will speak volumes about where we are at, because Clausen can flat out throw it. If we pull off the upset, I will be doing cartwheels down State St.. Anyone know of any updates on Cissoko? That is the one big worry coming out of Sat. in my opinion. He left in the secodn, and nevr returned. Floyd replaced him and did not look as solid. If we have Warren and Cissoko healthy next week,we have a shot at ND! GO Blue!


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 9:35 a.m.

Let's keep in mind that the Broncos had just about the worst defense in the MAC last year, which is saying a lot as few MAC teams have any kind of defense. That aside, last year's Wolverine offense couldn't have come close to putting up 31 points in the game much less the first half. I thought Hiller would pass for 350 or 400 yards, but they lost their best receiver too, so it's a mix of WMU not as good and hopefully M's D being better. We'll see.


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 9:09 a.m.

What a great game for a first time QB. Robinson is a nice addition as well, but Tate was fantastic. The entire offense looked dynamic and able to do pretty much whatever they wanted to do in the first half.


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 7:13 a.m.

About his prediction, Michael wrote: ". Who knew Tim Hiller would be that bad? Oops." My take on this is that people in the media and even some fans have been underrating UM since last year's aberration, treating it as though it were suddenly the norm. This is Michigan we're talking about. It isn't Nebraska, for example, whose average team weight suddenly shrunk by about thirty pounds after the NCAA started testing for steroids. It isn't Notre Dame, whose admission standards suddenly became an issue after the book "Under the Tarnished Dome" drove Lou Holtz out of town. We are talking about the winningest program in college football.


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 6:50 a.m.

someone wrote: " They got picked apart late by WMU, but I'm not sure if that was the first team D or not." They gave up one touchdown on a big play. That does not constitute getting "picked apart." Giving up seven points to a QB who will be playing on Sundays is nothing to "worry" about. This was a very good, solid performance on defense. This looked like a Bo Schembechler defense.


Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 5:08 a.m.

Good luck against the fighting irish next week!!!! Hopefully the Wolverines can set aside their bad habits and beat a real football team! But i suspect notre dame spanks them them silly! Go Green!!!

Michael Rothstein

Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 12:53 a.m.

Kubrick, I mentioned it a bunch of times in the live chat. I'll say it again here. Yep, misread that one. Try again next week. It happens. I've gone 12-0 in picking a season and I've also gone 9-3. Who knew Tim Hiller would be that bad? Oops.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 6, 2009 : 12:16 a.m.

Based on today's results and ratings going in, I'd say Buffalo may be the class of the MAC. CMU is up there, too. And the UM secondary was a concern today. Warren lost his cool completely, and Floyd on the other side was beaten badly several times. Notre Dame will make short work of them if the d-line can't get to Clausen early. But a much nicer start than the last couple of years.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 11:22 p.m.

Victory! And ah, Michael... what, no mention of your game prediction?


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 11:05 p.m.

I don't know if I would call WMU the best team in the GLIAC. I think CMU is a better team than WMU. With that said, Michigan looked so much better than they did last season. This Michigan team the ability to finish 8-4 or better. My one concern is the pass defense still. They got picked apart late by WMU, but I'm not sure if that was the first team D or not.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 10:16 p.m.

Wow! Michigan didn't just win...they DOMINATED. It's great to see some Michigan football again. Last year we couldn't beat the worst team in the MAC, today we CRUSHED the best. I sense a huge turnaround this year.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 9:53 p.m.