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Posted on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

More on Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier and Michigan's quarterback competition

By Dave Birkett


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (16) looks for a receiver during the Wolverines' spring football game, Saturday, April 17, 2010, in Ann Arbor.

AP photo

Denard Robinson proved to be a legitimate contender for Michigan’s starting quarterback job with 15 strong practices capped by an impressive performance in last week’s spring game.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez declined to make either Robinson or incumbent starter Tate Forcier available to the media all spring, but several teammates talked about the quarterback battle, where each has improved and what the competition (with true freshman Devin Gardner a strong No. 3) means for the Wolverines come fall.

“They obviously all bring some things to the table that are all worthwhile because they’re running with the ones and twos, respectively,” linebacker Obi Ezeh said. “I think Devin came in and did a really good job for a freshman, just being able to come in straight out of high school and just pick up as much stuff as he’s been able to pick up. And Tate and Denard are just battling it out. Good luck to each of them, but obviously with Denard, you can never quite get your hands around him, and Tate’s got a couple ways he can beat you, too. He can beat you with his arm. He’s shiftier than people think he is, too.”

Cornerback Troy Woolfolk said Robinson’s biggest improvements have been in decision making and accuracy. Robinson was erratic as a backup last year, completing just 14 of 31 passes with four interceptions.

“Last year, he kind of made some bad decisions with some passes that he knew he couldn’t get,” Woolfolk said. “He just tried to force it in there. That’s one thing, he stopped forcing it in and look for something else to throw it to. And I’m really proud with that because he’s looking so much better now.”

How has Forcier changed after starting all 12 games last year as a true freshman?

“I wouldn’t say he’s changed as much, not saying that’s a bad thing because he was pretty good, but he’s just sort of perfected his old ways is what he’s doing now,” Woolfolk said. “He’s still scrambling and keeping his head on a swivel when he’s running. He’s not so much of a scrambling quarterback, but he can be if he’s forced to. But he tries to look for the pass before.”

Receiver Roy Roundtree said Robinson throws a more catachable ball now than he did a year ago.

“It’s not as hard,” Roundtree said. “Last year, coming in as a freshman, he really wasn’t used to throwing the ball. He was throwing it very hard last year. Now. this year it’s like, OK, easy touch so it’s easy for us to catch the ball.”

Robinson played mostly with the first-team offense against the second-team defense in Michigan's spring game - Forcier played with the second-team offense against the No. 1 defense - but Rodriguez said he doesn’t expect to name a starter until late in fall camp.

Ezeh said not having a clear-cut starter is fine by players and won’t lead to divisiveness in the locker room.

“I know Coach Rod just loves promoting competition and I’m sure he’d take it all the way to the day before our first game before announcing the starters if he could,” Ezeh said. “I think that’s what it is, it’s just guys - you come out every day and know you got to work your hardest in order to earn what you get.”

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.



Thu, May 20, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

This is my first comment on this site. My take on the QB situation is simple. I admit I loved Tate at the beginning of the season. Why? Cuz he had 14 more weeks of preparation than D-Rob. He was sharp in the spring game, and looked to move the offense very well. And i'll never forget the comeback against rival Notre Dames, that alone captures the hearts of fans, boosters, and one Ohio fan. But...... Im all about Who gives us the best chance, who has the most potential, and who should be starting Now!!! I was always screaming for D-Rob to get the chance that Tate was given once it was clear that Tate was not going to get any better. I understand that the coach has alot of people to answer to. His hands are cuffed alot of the time and timing is always an issue. Rash decisions can lose your job if they don't go your way. You have to answer to all your mistakes. While Tate did score enough points to win games and the defense let us down, its only going to be worse this coming year and D-Rob is the only answer. "Score more points than your opponent" Denard's potential has caught up with Tate this year. Tate does not have an early enrollment edge that he was deserving of the 1st string QB last year. Spring games do mean something. If you watched it with an open mind, you would've seen a clear separation between the two QB's, and seen Denard growing and expanding his game, and Tate making the same mistakes. I love them both, cuz they both don the Maize and Blue, but it's my Man Crush's time without a doubt.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 6:19 p.m.

Well all right then! Enough about your coach. Back to the headline of this particular story.... Your competition for QB is really a good thing in that it hasn't been determined which is the starter. As long as there's indecision (or at least the starter hasn't been announce as is RR's style), you've got 3 potential QBs vying to out do each other. Never a bad thing. And in a spread offense, the QB is often beaten up, so good backups are a necessity since injury is a common consequence of the spread. How's that for positivity?

Terry Star21

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 11 a.m.

@ wvtroll.... good story. I think basically the point of many of us here is, we really don't mind outsiders giving us football information, but do not need (certainly advice) on our coaches and team in comparison to other coaches/schools, etc. - lord haven't we been subjected to enough of that (over kill). So keep it clean, be constructive, and play nice - and I'll read you, for one.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

Most of the coaches I've seen or studied have a little shark in their blood just the nature of the beast with the exception of Lou Holtz he had a little barracuda in his blood. Look these guys are not in a popularity contest with their personalities however, should they become the cool guy on campus from a winning record most will take it. I think college football in particular has become very aggressive in that winning is the bottom line always has been of sorts but now the money is phenomenal and that breeds everything from underhanded politics and downright dishonesty. Of course it's not right but that's where it is at this moment. Take Mac down in Austin you'd think he's the second coming ha, check out those politics a little closer I have. As far as RR goes I'm all for him and I hope he starts turning this thing around. I'd like to see a winning season a win over Ohio State and at the end of the game I'd like to see him flip off the Mich. fans and quit and go to another school. Look boys and girls, I'll back RR while he has the job I have to it's the same as backing the team at the moment. If RR gets fired then I'll say, adios RR and I'll back the new coach. Don't always try to psychoanalyze this thing it's really simple. College football is entertainment and nothing more. Have a laugh, have a beer, then come Monday go back to work and start all over again. I think RR is kind of cool putting up with all of WV crap and handling the Mich. media crap. He's staying true to his style and collecting quite a pay check and I think he's going to turn this thing around for Mich. Well, like I say Mich. will be playing the game long after I'm outta here it's entertainment boys and girls nothing more.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:42 p.m.

I apologize for the attitude I've presented. I truly am impartial, I actually went to an ACC school and follow that school. I think I've always tried to express the opinion I have, one that the coach and team are two separate entities, but now realize that I've crossed the line and have not been able to convince anyone there. I favor Marshall over WVU as far as WV schools go. I live closer and like the history and atmosphere there, and have always thought WVU was the uppity school as far as their recent series of games against each other. If you haven't seen it, just watch the mostly factual movie "We Are Marshall" to see what I mean. I do not have a liking of RR as a person, based on what I've seen from him at WVU. He's your coach and you deserve the right to cheer him on. I don't think UM is any better school for coaches than most. That is not saying it's a bad choice, just that there are plenty of schools that a coach would love to manage. With UM's history, most coaches would really dream of coaching there, just as would coaching at ND, FL, Miami, or a few others. Most people dream of coaching at their alma mater, so I don't think UM really had the shine for RR that some coaches might have seen. After all, RR was UM's third choice, so two other coaches were happy at other places, just to make my point. I can't understand why he left the way he did, not that he left at all, but believe me, I didn't really like him when he was at WVU either. I don't think "trolls" are the only ones who feel the dislike, as there are plenty of others from your neck of the woods that express the same feelings as mine. More so on other forums than this one, although this one has it's share. I do appreciate the shift to kindness I see now, as when I first started posting, it was all swords and arrows. I hope it's because some are seeing some good points to my posts, as Terry Star21 mentioned once. I'm sure you don't have to agree, but they are points to ponder. I'm not always right, and like I've always said, you and I both will just have to wait and see if RR was the right choice. I'll never be convinced that he a good, moral character. And by and large, most of my posts have always been about RR, not UM. I speak mostly to hear the resulting debate, not to fester arguments. I respect the history you have there. I think you can start over and rebuild a long-standing string of records to be proud of. It might start this year, or it might start a later year. All schools go through the dips and rises and none stay on top forever, although before RR, it looked like you might have continued forever. (Sorry, had to throw that last one in, but it's a fact and you can't deny that!)

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

OSU guy... you said Denard had better speed and arm strength than Pryor, and I think that is agreeable. We saw last year how bad Pryor's passing was and hurt your team. It is evident how much Denard has improved, with hard work. His speed will be a big factor, as it would seem Pryor's size hinders his speed quite a bit, albeit more difficult to take down. Advantage Denard - as it's hard to take someone down when they have already sped by you! Denard - racing down the field...... Pryor - spinning his wheels in the backfield


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 9:41 p.m.

I have really tried to avoid reading comments like wvtroll, but you are being very nice to him/her here, so be it then I will. My opinion was that he/she was always a disgruntle fan, but give credit he/she didn't rub it in on Michigan. I can't see anything of value in the comparisons for anyone that Wvtroll writes, does this person think Michigan Fans just stepped off the bus in January and said who is this new coach'. Every write, he/she says, 'I just want you to know what your getting into. Hello, Mr. Rodriguez is starting his third year now, hello! So I don't understand why Wvtroll has to constantly, constantly, constantly try to rub it it... makes no sense.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 6:55 p.m.

Terry Star21, It might be me that keeps bringing up WVU. I'm from WV, but remember, not a WVU fan. I'm only an observer watching RR and how he acts up there. I really don't mean to convey any bad stuff for UM. But that RR guy just doesn't seem to let up when it comes to the "trouble" category. I've mentioned before that I'm only on here to watch the latest RR spectacle and warn you all to be wary of his style. The resemblance to WVU to me is so obvious after watching them play here and seeing how your "new" team is shaping up. A review of WVU's past might interest some of you to get an idea of how your team will look in the near future.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

Something dreadfully wrong with this picture of Michigan football. o trying to play like WVU o looking for the next Pat White o trying to emulate the WVU fan experience I mean,I just don't get it.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 3:18 p.m.

wvtrol... yes you have some valid points here, I'm not sure why wvu comes up so much (could it be you?), and as for the rough and tumble football gone - if your talking about the 1920's '3.5 yards and a cloud of dust', or running up the middle every play, then yes that is gone. RichRod will excite the UM fans, much like he did wvu fans, just taking a little longer, you know some very valid reasons - but for me to mention them, you would just say i am making excuses. I can be patient..


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Don't know why WVU shouldn't be mentioned here. After all, RR was coach there, and the last year he was there, up until the last game against Pitt, his team was #2. He hasn't done that for UM yet. Seems like a Pat White type team would be an improvement. And guess what guys, that's where you're heading. I wasn't slamming UM. You all hired RR to do just that, using WVU's spread, and 3-3-5 defense. You hired their coaches to come along with RR. You're recruiting as if he were still at WVU. Once you get to the WVU-look-alike and start winning again, tell me that it's all bad to be like the has been team. There's that arrogance speaking again from up north. Can you deny the WVU resemblance? Don't know what you're ashamed of since once the wins start happening, you'll probably review how WVU did it as comparisons. The UM rough-and-tumble football of old is gone, and that's what excited everyone when RR was hired. I just don't understand


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

All of this talk about Robinson and Forcier is moot. DeRob is a better runner than a passer and Tate is a better passer than a runner. But Devin Gardner is the total package. He will be better than Pat White. I am officially heading up the Devin Gardner 2012 Heisman Committee. Tyrelle Pryor eat your heart out.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Ooh man i hit my head on the coffee table when i fell out of my chair laughing. OsuBeWorst did you say that "Shoelace" has better speed and throwing arm than Terelle Pryor? Are you kidding me? Not only is Terrelle have blazing speed, but when you get to him now you have to figure out a way to get him to the ground, not an easy task. I mean Fun is fun, but be realistic for god sake.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

I don't understand here, on the Michigan Football page how discussion of msu, osu, wvu, etc. always finds it way into the comment pages... if the Michigan fans have any flaws, it's bringing these lessor teams into the talk... and their fans of course, being Michigan wannabe's always try to compare, but fail.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

Remember who Denard was playing against-THE MICHIGAN DEFENSE, one of the worst in the BT.LOL. False hope-such a beautiful thing. Go Green, Go white!

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

Danny, I agree you have some good points... I don't understand comparing Michigan with a has been school like wvu though, kind of like the NY Yankee' and your daughters softball team. wvu will always be a Michigan wannabe, look RichRod left because of the dishonest administration planting things ans setting him up and the horrible fan base - advantage Michigan. Michigan Football - the best.....wvu football - failed the test.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Please don't get me wrong - I think Tate is as gutsy as they come - - - and never count out a gutsy guy with talent!. I'm also a realist. If DRob and DGar keep improving, there just aren't going to be enough balls to go around. So, if after giving my heart, shoulder, ankle, and knees to UMich as a Freshman, I found myself struggling to be #2 in the fall, you're darn right I'd think about what was best for me..............


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 6:49 a.m.

With everyone jumping on the Denard bandwagon, I'll just say - don't count out Tate still to be the starter. He's a very intense competitor and will do everything he can to keep the starting job. I do agree with the comments questioning his durability however. Tate needs to learn how to avoid big hits AND add some bulk (read that as muscle). If he does that and continues to progress, he should still be the starter come fall. But, RR will let the chips fall as they will on the field. If DR earns the starting job, so be it. I think both guys will see a lot of snaps this year though.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 6:29 a.m.

So Michigan would be happy to be like WVU was a few years ago? What's that saying about where they are today. You guys up there should probably tone down the arrogance a little and let things take their course back to greatness. Sounds to me like RR is trying to make UM into a WVU type team. Sort of a West Virginia U. West. If that's the case, when you achieve that status as a WVU look-alike, you should probably quit slamming the other conferences because if you are successful, you've only proven that the type of play in other conferences is what wins in the Big Ten, so they're probably as good as the Big Ten conference. Good luck on the upcoming year. It'd be fun to watch a Pat White type team in the B10.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 11:52 p.m.

I agree 100%. I feel that Tate has given his all since he has been at UofM. Tate put up enough points last year as a Freshman to win many of the games we lost. Enough to play in a Bowl game if thay had a DEFENSE, however we can't dwell over last year. I think the defense will improve quite a bit this year. I like Tate alot, I think he is a leader and he is smart. The only area he might be a question mark is durability. It only takes one or two times being blind sided to hurt something, I don't care who you are! After his performance last year the job should be his to lose. Instead, we have all this controversy and turmoil. Let Denard play (he is closer to the Pat White RR is looking for) and he has the ability to be as good as West Virginia's Pat White. Very good but not great. Tate would be much happier in Bama's drop back pass offense and still have the ability to scramble if need be. The kid puts up 20 to 30 points per game at Bama or Florida and the rest is history! I like Tate enough to tell him to transfer to a school taht is in need of a QB. My pick would be Bama or Florida. Bama would be the best bet because they have a senior QB coming back which would give Tate the year he needs to learn the offense. He would have three years of eligibility left at Bama. Who my God, stronger, smarter and quicker. I hear National Championship. Not to mention, I would be able to watch the kid play in person. This is a tough decision for RR. Tate performed better than RR expected as a stop gap until RR got his true spread QB. It is also a tough decision for Tate. Tate has nothing to look forward to at Michigan except I told you so and pain! GO BLUE


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 10:27 p.m.

A2D2.... I hate to admit it, but your probably right... his brother transfered out from UM FB a while back... I mentioned this in a commentary back it March (but I'll be honest, I thought the bad guy was going to be Devin!)... It is spring, but unless Denard suddenly losses all his newly (from hard work) skills, I hate to see this happen... 3 quarterbacks transfering in 3 years... but let's give some credit - don't even try to pin this on Mr. Rodriguez... please.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 10:01 p.m.

Let Tate go to the SEC and play for Florida or Bama (sit out one year at Bama would work perfect) allowing Bama's senior QB to finish the year and Tate to learn the system. I think you are right, Tate does not fit the Michigan offense as well as Denard and the MIchigan line can't protect him. So he is destined to get crushed. God help us if we ever play Florida or Bama with Tate at the helm! Either school would take him in a minute. If I was Tate, I would put an end to all the Pressure and BS right now. By-By before it's too late!


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.

So, the big question is................. Where will Tate transfer to after the 2010 season? Take the poll: a. UCLA b. Cal c. Oregon d. Cal - San Luis Obispo


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 7:58 p.m.

Glad DRob is stepping into the void. Sorry, but Tate's only big win at UM will be Sept 12, 2009. He cannot take a B10 pounding game after game. DRob is similar size, but has a way of getting under big hits (I hope). Don't know how good he can be, but if he can average 3.5 yards per carry (see Iowa last year), that's a decent base for the offense. He seems to have a rocket on the roll-out. He could run "forward option" with a wide-out. Does anybody know that play, have you seen it before?

Terry Star21

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 5:46 p.m.

@ Fan... you made a valid point. You hit on something I remembered and I don't think has been mentioned by the Media or the Commenters... the fans that stood when Denard looked like a run... very good sir, can't believe I forgot that in my comments. I'm reading here, by outsiders on how it was 'just one spring game', but to make people stand up - I love it, that's huge. I had my picture taken next to Tate last May, and although I love this guy (man), Denard's gonna thrill us off our feet this fall. Only a Spring game yea, but like a Movie trailer preview - I wanna see more, much more... thank you Fan! Fan - gotta change your name to UMFan, etc.!


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

Denard is the real deal and has a complete package while exciting to watch. From where I was sitting in the Big House Saturday, the fans raised to their feet if they thought Denard was going to run the ball. When he threw the ball, the crowd High Fived with "My Man" amazed excitement. With continued grounding by the Coaching Staff,I agree, Denard has the leadership ability to capture the attention of the Nation while showcasing his superior athletic skills ALONG with OTHER Wolverine teammates as real Heisman Candidates. The team will need every fan's support - everygame. Then, let's just see where we are, going into the November 27th showdown and beyond! Best season ever! Pizza anyone?


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 5:20 p.m.

I think the fact that it was 'just a spring game' has been taken into consideration.... but what is garnering talk is - it wasn't 'just Denard out there having fun. This was an oportunity for Denard and Michigan to show the faithful a preview of the team, but it was the Denard Show. Denard thrilled us with a total package - scrambling, quick decisions, laser passing, and accuracy and yes it was just a practice game. I for one was impressed with Denard's ability to improve himself since last fall, and to illustrate to his faithful what he has... and I for one of many will be excited to see what this young man can do behind an 'O' line that gives him time.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

what to spring games prove?They are like Grapefruit League baseball games.

Robbie Webb

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:38 p.m.

People forget they weren't going full speed at all in the spring game. It was practice.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:35 p.m.

'Denard Robinson proved to be a legitimate contender'..... for what quarterback, or the Heisman trophy... this kid was impressive, every pass was on the money.... the two missed were just dropped... for naysayers whom say it was just one game in the spring, fine... I'll see 12 in the fall and 1 on new years day. Big Bowl for Blueon New Years Day.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

Didn't Martin's Folly recently call Pat White among the greatest quarterbacks in college history? A passer who never even reached 2,000 yards passing in a season and is limited to Wildcat formation duty in the NFL. That said, if Denard could some day be as good as White was as a sophomore (he was Big East player of the year, which might be good enough for third team all-Big Ten), I would be pleasantly surprised.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

Look to see the comparison between Denard and Pat White after he starts this yar. All should mark my words and save this post for fall. WATCH OUT THE BIG BLUE IS COMMING BACK!!!

Robbie Webb

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

You're right steve the wookie, it wont be pretty. It will be beautiful! GO BLUE!!!

Terry Star21

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

I'm really not too worried about the quarterback situation, Tate will be strong and Denard, with his much honed skills will be excellent come September. What I haven't heard, is how much of role models, and the experience Devin will get from practicing with these two.... priceless. @ Matt... can't take someone too serious whom just got out of jail... my little brother was in jail once, he still beats me up may twice every 12 years, I can deal with that.

Steve the Wookiee

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

Michigan might not be the new Purdue (although I'm inclined to agree) but they certainly aren't the old Michigan. This year will not be pretty.

Robbie Webb

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

The new Purdue? Wrong! This is Michigan! We're back!


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:42 p.m.

Sparty- still....???? well.... Sparty


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

Denard looked very good with his passing in the Spring Game. If he can do that while under pressure, he'll give Tate some real competition.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

Oh, the joys of reduced expectations.