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Posted on Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Michigan quarterback battle destined to drag into fall practice

By Dave Birkett


Sophomore quarterbacks Denard Robinson, left, and Tate Forcier will go into the fall battling for the No. 1 spot, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez. (File photos)

CHICAGO - Michigan’s quarterback battle seems destined to drag late into fall practice, and coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t mind the competition one bit.

Rodriguez reiterated at the Big Ten spring meetings Tuesday that incumbent starter Tate Forcier and fellow sophomore Denard Robinson are neck and neck atop the depth chart.

Forcier started every game last year as a true freshman, but Robinson played with the first team during Michigan’s spring game.

“It’s wide open, it’s not just coach speak,” Rodriguez said. “Denard and Tate are right there battling for it. Denard made a lot of steps in the spring and then Devin (Gardner) coming in for the first time did pretty well. He’s still behind the guys, which you would expect because it’s his first spring. But it’s going to be an interesting battle.”

Rodriguez said he and Forcier “had several talks” this spring about the ongoing competition.

“Not Dr. Phil talks or anything like that,” Rodriguez said. “About being challenged and being in the middle of a competition, and he knows this is what he’s got to do.

“And I think that’s the way he wants it to be. And I told him that, I said we recruited you because of the way you competed in high school and the challenge that you wanted to have. So that’s the way it’s going to be, not just this year but hopefully his whole career.”

Regardless of who wins the job, Rodriguez said Michigan needs more consistent play out of its quarterback.

Forcier threw for 2,050 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, but also had 10 interceptions and a complete meltdown against Ohio State. Robinson was almost exclusively a run option, throwing four interceptions in 31 pass attempts.

“I thought they did a pretty good job as true freshmen, but our expectation in their second year are a whole lot higher,” Rodriguez said.

So how does Rodriguez see the quarterback battle shaking out?

“I don’t,” he said. “What I hope it does is elevate all of those guys, and if all of them get elevated because of the competition within each other but still understand the team concept then it’s all win-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.


Robbie Webb

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

I'll give you leadership on the D-line and the linebackers. Linebackers will have great leadership this year. And altough we wont have a playmaker like Brandon Graham on the line, we'll be solid and be able to hold our own with Mike Martin, Van-Bergan, and Greg Banks/or Big Will. It's the same question as last year, the secondary. Kovacs who was a walkon held his own and did well. But a walkon shouldn't be second in the team in tackles. That to me raises a flag on defense if your walkon is outplaying everyone else in the backfield. Chances are is there will be three freshman in the backfield this fall, with Cam Gordon, and most likely Josh Furman and Marvin Robinson as they are more of a better fit for that spot. And if Dorsey makes it on campus, great. I wish we had more experience in the secondary, but because we have a young team, that's how it is. But you are right, Sean. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out. I believe in this team.

Sean T.

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

The odds are certainly stacked against us and reasonably so. Youth wasn't actually are problem last year beacuse we had leadership at the key positions on the Offense and Defense. Outside of QB we had Seniors/Juniors on the O-line, D-line, DB's, LB's, RB's and Sophmores with playing experience at WR. We have to start admitting that we were just plain "Bad". All of our losses weren't because of Tate Forcier who played tough all year despite being a freshman or because of injuries to our RB's or O-linemen. We got pushed around and out-played no matter who we put in there and barely skimmed by in the few wins we had outside of Delaware State. Even Eastern Michigan played us very tough but they couldn't get out of there own way to score points. And I know that spring games mean very little but it is part of the evaluation process and we should very little. There was even contact on the QB's! I believe Tate will be the starter because Denard still doesn't look like a QB to me but I guess we will have to wait and see.

Robbie Webb

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

First of all you can't compare this team to last years and especailly in 08, whether you agree or disagree youth was a factor in two rough seasons, this team has one of the most if not the most people returning this year. Michigan is YOUNG and still is pretty young as we only have 12 seniors. Just because we had two rough seasons doesn't mean you can just assume the same thing is going to happen. And again, why are you saying they are going to run the 3-3-5 all day and night?!? They never said that. It has already been said and two posts on this particular site that have said they will line up according the offense. It has also been said that the 3-3-5 formation can give multiple looks in order to confuse opponents. It wouldn't make sense to run a defense that is designed to stop thepass against a team that runs. Trigg, I most certainly agree. Some fans are really blind.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

Some fans are just blind.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 6:28 a.m.

Robbie: Based on 3 B10 wins over 2 years. Based on the fact UM tied Indiana for last place in 2009. Based on the fact the defense was the worst in the B10 and now the solution is the 3-3-5? Indiana had a 1st year coach last year. Now they know his system, plus, UM plays IU in Bloomington this year. The refs won't be there to bail them out. Thats right remember the game that UM could not stop The IU offense? Thats the basis for why 7th place is a much more realistic prediction. That would require UM to win 3 B10 games in 2010. IU?, Purdue?, Illinois? How can you claim they are better than any of these teams?

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 11:06 p.m.

Haha! I hope you're not judging Michigan after what you saw after one spring practice. Both teams wern't going full speed. It was practice, not a real game. You should no better than judge a spring game. 7th at best? Again, based on what?


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 10:56 p.m.

Robert not Richard,sory. I dont know what u saw in the spring game but sure wasnt easy to watch.Based on what? Enough said. I guess UM became great over night and the rest of the BIG TEN took two steps back. Not to mention no running back with experience. The quintessential BIG TEN QB is no longer the pro style pocket passer. Never said he had to be,but he sure as hell has to hold onto the ball. Denard still has to prove he can hit receiver. Thats right UM is going to take the BIG TEN hands down. 7th at best.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 9:48 p.m.

Two things about the RB situation. 1. Minor and Brown were good players, but both were injured and relatively unreliable last year. 2. Neither RB last year was necessarily a fit for Rich Rod's offense. The RB is used extensively as a slot receiver in this scheme, and neither player was very capable catching passes and running routes. At the very least, they are better equipped for the position next year.

Josh Ditton

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

What is interesting is that despite Michigan's horrendous defense last season, they still could have won every single one of their games. If we could remove/change the turnovers [Michigan finished 115th of 120 FBS schools in turnover margin at -1.00], Michigan would've gone 8-4. It was turnovers, NOT defense, that made Michigan lose to State, Purdue, Ohio State, and Iowa. Alright, so the defense contributed, but ultimately it was the turnovers. If Michigan wasn't stopped on the Illinois 1 yard line and turned over on downs, the momentum likely would've been towards Michigan's way. That's 5 teams Michigan could've beat - and played well enough to. For the record, that makes it 10-2. Against Wisconsin, Michigan did great for the first half, but let them run away, despite one of Forcier's better outings. And even against Penn State, Michigan had a defecit of only 9 pointt at the half. My point: If Michigan can limit turnovers, they will finish no worse than 8-4 this season.

Sean T.

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 7:04 p.m.

If RR wants to win he must start Tate, pray the O-line gels and give 5 hail-mary's that we can get any production out of the RB's. And we haven't even started with our defense yet! I'm freakin' scared now, time for some happy pills.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 7:02 p.m.

What's your point?


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 7 p.m.

And pout it all together you get.... "In the beginning, I would have said no doubt it was Tate, but now I have no clue. Rodriguez seems to really like Denard and Denard did get much better over spring.....Denard also has great potential if he has better pocket presense and is more accurate with his throws.....Gardner will compete but most likely not start this year in any game and likely will redshirt."

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 6:51 p.m.

Tate ''Looks'' to be the odd man out because alot of people are judging by what they saw at the spring game. Gardner will compete but most likely not start this year in any game and likely will redshirt.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

Robbie... So again, you have two QB's that are sophmores. One of those guys has extensive playing time, but he looks to be the odd man out, and a true freshman that will get some playing time this fall. QB... Check... position of strength. (I still have to ask... you are in year three of RR, and he still doesn't have a starting QB picked out yet.) You have to replace 40% of your offensive line. Your best guy is back, and a backups added weight. And somehow the backups have more experience than the guys they replaced. Offensive Line... Check... position of strenght. Lastly, starting running backs from last year aren't here this year. But the one's that were back ups last year are really good... that's why they were back ups. Running Back... Check... position of strength. That's a lot of what if's.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

You're welcome. I hope you understand it now.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

"Molk (arguably our best lineman) coming back and alot of the young guys who put on weight and got more experience that's not just my opinion." priceless.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

Well, seeing as how we only lost two and those two not even being our best linemen and with Molk (arguably our best lineman) coming back and alot of the young guys who put on weight and got more experience that's not just my opinion.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

"Second, the offensive line is better this year than it was last year." Whew! once again you've cleared everything up with a single stroke.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

Having more than one quarterback ready to go is a good thing.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 4:34 p.m.

First of all they have three quarterbacks competing who will actually have a chance to play. Second, the offensive line is better this year than it was last year. Third, we have a solid group of runningbacks competing, which is a good thing.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 4:09 p.m.

So... reading through these posts and article. UM has two QB's... which I've always heard the experts say in the past means you don't have one QB. They have a suspect line because they graduated two seniors. They have young unproven RB's. Yep, this will be the break out year for RR.

Baghdad Rod

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.

Everything is Fine! Jack Kennedy is no George Bush. Tate and D-Rob will rise up to defeat the infidels of the Big Ten. Speed Kills. Coach Rod is firmly in charge of the situation. Go Blue!


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

I personally think rr is crazy if he doesn't start Jack Kennedy at qb. That fella can really run the offense. And it would really settle the qb position once and for all.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

the offense line will be fine this year, as for the qb situation competition is good for these kids. it keeps them from being complaciant. personally i am not a fan of the spread offense yet being at every game since rich rod has arrived and his system does not impress me, it appears that most every team we play make adjustments at halftime and we have no answer for that.that being said rich rod needs to put up or make way for someone who can


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

Folks, I think you need to rethink your position about the offensive line next year. It will most definitely NOT be more experienced next year. Last year, I think we had 4 returning starters and a couple more w/starting experience. This year, we've lost 2 SR starters and are replacing them with kids w/little to no experience. Do the new kids have more potential than the guys they replaced? Probably, but they won't be more experienced. It's no slam dunk the offensive line will be better.

Terry Star21

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

@ VoiceofReason and Edward.... if you have been reading those posts, it's not just the name wrong, but the opinions - that well...... @ Detroitrocks... no excuses, but sometimes when you have Minor and Brown, it's difficult to take the lead as a young player. We have a good stable of 'running backs', a few young - but I'm excited as all Michigan fans are, that one/two of them are going to bust out this year. It is getting more and more difficult to write/talk about Denard and Tate - it's going to go on for 3 1/2 more months (and more). We just have to hope that the competition really helps each of the them. makes our team better - and that one superstar emerges to lead tis fall.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

I think Mr. Webb hit the nail on the head. No team, at any level, will ever have success without a solid offensive line. The game is won and lost within 2 yards on every play.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

@Trigg, as for these guys not being Big Ten QB's as you say. What would you call Williams, Clark, Pryor? I could keep going but the point is clear, the quintessential "Big Ten QB" is no longer the pro-style pocket passer. College football is changing, it's ok for the Big Ten to change with it.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

Detroitrocks, the loss of Minor last year for very important games really hurt, and Brown is a big loss as well. Vincent Smith should be good and showed great promise and Stephen Hopkins who is a tank (aprox. 230 lbs) will be a monster with some experience. Whoever starts at quarterback will be great, I'm just glad the offensive line will be alot better this year, especially with Molk returning. As we know, it all starts with the offensive line.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

Looks to me like the games will be more fun this year! My prediction? No worse than 11th, no better than first. Lighten up, people, even though it's big business, it's only a game and most of us have a life even when we lose on Saturday. Tate, Denard, Devin, Richard (huh?) - whoever earns it will start. GO BLUE! (hope those caps are OK...)


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

I think RR goes with the 2 QB system this year. If done properly, it can be hell to defend. Not only does the opposing team have to prepare for a mobile QB, but they have to prepare for two different QB's. The best part of this competition is that if one of these guys gets hurt, the other is ready to go and can run the offense with much more comfort than a career back-up or an underclassman who isn't mentally prepared to play in a game.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

The bigger problem is running back - no experience at all. I think people are seriously underestimating the value Minor and Brown brought to this team. Without this, defenses will key on the quarterback. And until Denard shows he can throw in a game situation (forget the spring game where touching him was off limits), his running ability will be severely limited.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

Don't worry, Tate will blow out a toe putting on his shoes and that will clear up this mess.


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

trigg7, I'm not aware of a Michigan QB named "Richard". If you were referring to Tate Forcier, he was voted as Freshman All-Big Ten after last season. With more experience on offensive line and better wide receivers, the QB position should become a position of strength this year. Remember how the offense looked before Molk tore his ACL last year?

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 11:58 a.m.

Trigg, based on what?


Tue, May 18, 2010 : 11:48 a.m.

Denard and Richard are not BIG TEN qb's. Spring games are just that, practice. BLA,BLA,BLA...7th in BIG TEN at best.

Robbie Webb

Tue, May 18, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

In the beginning, I would have said no doubt it was Tate, but now I have no clue. Rodriguez seems to really like Denard and Denard did get much better over spring, and I'm not talking about just the spring game as Denard was going against the second string defense and Forcier had an ankle injury and was against the first string defense with the second string offense. Forcier has the game experience which is the most important, but Denard also has great potential if he has better pocket presense and is more accurate with his throws.