A top priority for Michigan quarterbacks - hold on to the football
CHICAGO - Rich Rodriguez knows the Michigan football team needs to do at least one thing better this season to succeed - hold on to the ball.
Michigan fumbled 29 times last year (2.4 times a game), losing 13.
Nowhere was the problem more prevalent than at quarterback. So as Michigan opens its preseason camp today, limiting turnovers is a major emphasis. It might also determine who ends up winning the quarterback job between sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
“We had too many turnovers,” Rodriguez said. “That’s why it was a point of emphasis with Tate and Denard in the spring.”
Both quarterbacks, Rodriguez said, are better prepared to handle the constant beating. Both Robinson and Forcier are bigger, stronger and more comfortable in the read-option system. And when they know where to go, there is less chance of them being blindsided with a big hit.
There is also freshman Devin Gardner, but Rodriguez said he wouldn't burn Gardner's redshirt if it was for a couple of plays a game.
The spring proved more of a barometer than normal, too, because Rodriguez allowed his quarterbacks to be tackled except during the spring game. In doing so, he could see whether or not they’d hold on the ball.
In August, though, he doesn’t want to do that for fear of injury. Instead, he’ll create situations to test his quarterbacks.
“I’m going to put as much as you can, pressure on the guys in August, try to put them in pressure situations in practice to see how they perform,” Rodriguez said. “So the team can get confidence in them and they can get confidence in themselves.”
Michigan’s players have seen that in summer workouts, especially out of Robinson.
“Denard has gotten more confident,” Michigan senior offensive lineman Steve Schilling said. “And I think it has kind of helped him settle in. He’s a guy you want to be around you and you want to play for him because he’s always got a positive attitude.
“I think that’s something that’s important for him as a leader and a quarterback. He’s definitely the type of guy you want to play for.”