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Posted on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 5:50 p.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson pushing Tate Forcier for starting job

By Dave Birkett


Michigan quarterbacks Tate Forcier, left, and Denard Robinson, right, celebrate Robinson's long touchdown run during first quarter action ot the Wolverines' 2009 season opener versus Western Michigan University at Michigan Stadium. Which one will start the 2010 opener?

Melanie Maxwell |

Tate Forcier started every game at quarterback last year as a true freshman, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the field when the Wolverines open against UConn this fall.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday that sophomore backup Denard Robinson is pushing Forcier for the starting job.

“I think that race is going to continue throughout spring and probably through August camp as well,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not just having Denard do one set of things and Tate do another. Right now, which is a good time for us to do it, we’re having all the quarterbacks do all the offense, and I think they’re progressing.”

Rodriguez said Forcier and Robinson have taken about equal snaps with the first-team offense through Michigan’s first nine spring practices. True freshman Devin Gardner, one of seven early enrollees, is third in the rotation.

Forcier led the Wolverines to a 4-0 start last year, but struggled with the rest of the offense during a 1-7 finish. He threw just four touchdown passes and seven interceptions in Michigan’s final seven games.

Robinson was electric at times as a freshman, breaking a 43-yard run on his first snap at quarterback. But he was limited in the offense by his lack of knowledge in the playbook.

Coaches generally called designed runs when Robinson was in the game, and Robinson finished the season 14-of-31 passing with four interceptions.

This spring, however, Robinson’s shown a better understanding of the offense and been able to diagnose defenses more quickly.

“I think he understands our concepts pretty well, but again this is his first spring practice,” Rodriguez said. Unlike Forcier, Robinson was not on campus for spring practice last year.

“When you get there in August for the first time you’re just trying to get ready for a gameplan once the games start and you lose some of the fundamental stuff. We really worked hard on his fundamentals. Again, he still has a ways to go, but he’s a talented, talented guy.”

So talented that Rodriguez said earlier this spring he hoped to practice Robinson some at receiver with the intent of getting him on the field as much as possible next year.

That hasn’t materialized this spring - Robinson has practiced almost exclusively at quarterback - but Rodriguez said the quarterback competition is good for all involved.

“Tate’s a very, very competitive guy,” Rodriguez said. “I think he’s a guy that likes challenges, and in the last couple practices he’s responded with that. But we’re going to keep the pressure on him because we’ve got to play better at that position. And Tate and Denard and Devin all have the talent to do it, they just got to continue to understand what we expect out of that position all the way around."

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.



Sat, Apr 10, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

FRIEND12 You have hte wrong offense.In he spread option the QB ideal height is about 6ft,because he must run 40% of the time How many 6'5 runners do you see.Much of the passing is done on the run so and there are spaces between the OL from 3 to 5 feet This enables the QB to get sight lines. Forcier,nor having played college football didn't realize that he couldn't throw over 6'5 DE who knocked the ball down.That happened 5-6 times. In fact he ran the offense poorly after Molk went out because he had to concerm himself with Mis-snaped balls, some of which went over his head.He also was carrying the ball with one hand way too much in the Iowa game and still was doing it in the OSU game.Anyway he is a faster and better runner than Gardner will ever be and DRob is apparently going to be our #2 QB.Magee has stated lately that Walter Smith looks like our best back for the fall.That is bad news because he was small and slow.I was hoping that Drob would be the RB as he has a great burst and with 4.28 speed could be the runner this offense needs.But no,Gardner won't be ready so DRob has to be a QB.Right now Cox is our #1 back and he is a solid big ten back but a solid big ten back won't get it done in this offense.You must have a burner like Harvin or Devine.Toussaint,Austin White, Hopkins and Shaw are all in the "pile" somewhere


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

Denard in my mind could be a great football player, but I don't know about a great quaterback. Tate has a suprior throwing ability and can also have some runs. Tate is going to have a breakout year this year. I think Denard can be great as a part time running back as long as a deep threat at reciever. With Devin I think RR can start to move Denard around at various positions. His speed can't be replaced by another player so RR is going to use it. To the haters, have faith in Tate he may be little, but his heart is big.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

Tater said "behind a line that was too small because they were too young". You have a right to your own opinion, but you don't have a right to your won facts. LT: Ortmann-Red Shirt Senior LG: Schilling-Red Shirt Junior C: Molk-Red Shirt Sophomore RG: Moosmann-Red Shirt Senior RT: Dorrestein-Red Shirt Junior They average 4 years+ in college ball. You want to say they were inexperienced, OK, though even that's debatable. Young, they most definitely were not.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

Doug Karsch, who is on the sideline @ UM FB games was at a spring practice Tuesday and reports that Denard was about third of the 3 quarterbacks.... yea I know, one visit, spring practice, etc., but one qualified opinion.... just saying......


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

We have three quarterbacks. This team must work together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Please win for us. Thank you, Dawn


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

Robinson couldn't make a pressure pass to save his life when he was in last year. Until that happens on a regular basis, Robinson is a very poor choice. Forcier has a knack for making something out of nothing, but, is too small when it comes to the run. Both QBs are too small. I hope Gardner steps up and fills the position.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

@timeatwork why do you think he is so small, because he isnt the standard 6-4 220 QB??? so if you have concerns with him being able to finish the season MSU should have the same concerns with Cousins because he is essentially has the same height-weight ratio tate is 6'0 195 cousins is 6'3 200... there is a 3 inch heigh difference yet a only a 5lb difference and im willing to bet u-m S&C has tate in better shape than MSU's with maxwell... and there is a QB down in new orleans that has held up with a smallish frame... the initial numbers dont always tell the full story.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

@engineer the school has no say in who enrolls early its up to the player to decide if they want to graduate early and matriculate to their respective school... Marvin Robinson had intentions of doing it but ran into a snag with some things... trust if it were up to RR half the class especially many from the defensive side would be on campus already from what ive been reading the DL even without BG has been doing well as well as some healthy competition at the LB and DB spots... alot still is uncertain due to some key recruits not being able to get up on campus until august im calling for a 8-4 season with a bowl win putting it at 9-4


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:09 a.m.

i still don't think uofm has a quarterback that can make it the entire season. tate is still really small. and i see a replay of last year coming....fine against the little guys, but he'll be smashed once the bigboys rush right through the line. and how about that article on espn, about the quarterbacks not having wearing red yet, to help them improve ball handling. i wouldn't be surprised if we see a 'tate out for 4-6 months due to injury' story before spring ball is over.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

'Tate started every game at quarterback'... and it will be Tate starting the season, must agree Tate must be beaten out in a game(s)... must be a lot of fun playing if/maybe/might 'who's the quarterback' games in April but Tate is the starter. Would love to see Denard play, but he must show he is clearly the best, is learning and will get the chance. No nothing about Devin except words and video I had seen, don't think he will play much if at all. RichRod creating competition in practice, not sure, but he's the coach, will wait to see.......

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.

This is great... sounds like Robinson is improving, learning the system, no excuses though, but tough coming from so far away as a young kid with just weeks to learn one of the most impressive play books in college football. I say Tate is the starter, someone has to beat him out in a game and Robinson will have that chance. I still like the Wildcat, but certainly both in the backfield at times, mix it up - great options. Any coach in America would love to have these guys - we are so fotunate. Wildcat UM Football - beware..........Big Ten defenses - in a scare.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 9:01 p.m.

This is great. Perhaps we will be able to hold the ball for more than 30 seconds. That will greatly relieve the pressure on the defense. Defense does need to make great improvements also. I was dissappointed that RR did not bring in any defensive players early. I understand he is offensive minded but we will need both sides to improve to get back to our winning ways.