Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez declares quarterback competition 'wide open'
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
CHICAGO - Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez stood in the Hyatt Regency at the Big Ten Conference media days a year ago, declaring he didn’t know who was his starting quarterback.
A year later and a couple of miles south at McCormick Place, the theme continues. Sophomore quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier are still competing for the job Forcier won a year ago.
“Really, it’s a wide-open competition,” Rodriguez said Monday. “It was in spring. Certainly Tate and Denard both got a lot of experience last year as true freshmen.”
Forcier started every game in 2009, but Robinson played and appeared to emerge in the spring at least as Forcier’s equal.
Forcier began the season strong, winning his first four games. He finished the season completing 165 of 281 passes for 2,050 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Robinson, in spot duty, completed 14 of 31 passes for 188 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Going into the spring, knowing Robinson would challenge Forcier for the starting job, Rodriguez pushed Forcier verbally. Robinson kept up and in some ways surpassed Forcier physically.
And unlike last year, when Rodriguez played coy throughout the preseason with his quarterback situation, he said he hopes Forcier, Robinson or freshman Devin Gardner takes control of the position in time for the Sept. 4 season opener against Connecticut.
“I think that competition is going to be healthy,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve said it several times. Our goal is to have at least two guys at every position that we feel we can win with.
“I think we can have that at quarterback.”
One thing is certain. Whether Forcier or Robinson wins the job, Robinson will play - somewhere.
“We fully prepared (Robinson) that if you’re not the starting quarterback, I don’t want you standing next to me 70 percent of the time on the sidelines,” Rodriguez said. “You learn quarterback and you learn other skill positions, but he’s battling for the starting quarterback job.”