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Posted on Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson talk about Michigan football team's open competition at quarterback

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan quarterbacks Tate Forcier, Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson pose for a photo during media day at the practice field at Schembechler Hall on Sunday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell |

Tate Forcier played it safe. Denard Robinson fast and loose. Not on the football field. The two candidates for the starting quarterback job on the Michigan football team talked on media day Sunday about their competition for the first time since the spring game. Robinson enjoyed the attention while Forcier, who endured a tumultuous off-season, stuck to safe answers.

More from media day

  • Slideshow: Images from media day
  • Fans optimistic, support Rich Rodriguez
  • Video: A taste of media day and fan day
  • Running back Austin White no longer on Michigan football team
  • Opinion: Don’t move the date of the Michigan-Ohio State football game
  • Notebook: Rodriguez concerned about how defenders are tackling
  • Teammates had criticized his absences from off-season workouts, and coaches stripped his helmet of its wings at one point in the preseason. He said neither episode hurt his confidence. “It hasn’t done anything,” Forcier said. “A quarterback has confidence, and I think we could win with any of us at quarterback.” No one asked Robinson about his confidence. He brimmed with it while standing on the practice field adjacent to Schembechler Hall. Asked if he worried that opponents might try to tackle him by grabbing the ponytail sprouting from the back of his helmet, he laughed. “They’d have to catch me first,” he said. Asked what he would say if a fan asked him why the 2010 Wolverines will be better than the 5-7 team from a year ago, Robinson said, “I wouldn’t say anything. Watch the games.” Forcier kept his comments on the quarterback race generic - “All the quarterbacks are doing a great job, and we’ll all keep pushing each other,” he said - and did not want to talk about the 2009 season. Robinson was brutally honest when reflecting on his 2009 season, his contributions to the team’s 5-7 record and his struggles throwing the football. “I was just always thinking run, just running around,” he said. “I just rushed myself a lot. I rushed everything a lot. That’s not good, not good. When you rush, you’re not thinking like you’re supposed to, and that really hurt me a lot.” Forcier showed a lot of moxie as a true freshman starter in 2009, playing through injuries and leading Michigan to two comeback wins, while Robinson struggled throwing the football. Since then, their careers have veered in opposite directions. Robinson was a spring-game sensation and received praise from coaches while Forcier seemingly fumbled through the off-season. None of that discounts Forcier’s performance as last year’s starter, according to quarterback coach Rod Smith, when it comes to determining Michigan’s 2010 starting quarterback. “I think everyone’s marking Tate off and marking Denard in,” Smith said. “We don’t get into all that. It’s an open competition, but obviously, Tate has experience in his corner. He’s a 12-game starter, and that’s tough to replace. It’s a factor.” For his part, Forcier seemed contrite about whatever went wrong this summer. He said a heavy focus on academics played a part in his absences from some off-season workouts, and said he took Troy Woolfolk’s comments as constructive criticism. “Troy had a long, deep conversation with me, and pretty much said, ‘Keep working. You need to keep working, and you need to show us you’re our quarterback,’” Forcier said, addressing Woolfolk’s comments for the first time. Addressing the wingless helmet he wore until this week, when coaches restored his wings, he said, “Something my dad always told me is that actions speak louder than words. I just stayed quiet, and did all the work, made sure everyone saw me doing the work. “I was the first one on the practice field and the last one off. Whatever it took. I got them back, and I’m happy.” Whether any of that affects his changes of starting remains a question that likely won’t be answered until Sept. 4 when the Wolverines open the season against UConn. If it’s any telltale indication, the starting quarterback has traditionally received the most attention at media day in the past. At one point Sunday, 17 reporters surrounded Forcier. A few steps away at the same time, a media half-moon formed around Robinson. The group numbered 17. One more reason why this quarterback race appears too close to call.

    Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at



    Tue, Aug 24, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

    Pat White played in so many games because he had the desire to play in so many games. He played injured, even once being forced out of the game by the coach (don't think it was RR that made him leave) after suffering a head injury. Sorry, tater, but you're wrong on this one. RR's scheme of offense allows, and sometimes, demands that the quarterback scramble, and usually into the defensive line. A poor O-line, ineffective receivers who can't break loose, or a good defense will all make the QB get into some scary situations. If the QB doesn't have some form of RB talents, he's going to get hurt, or at least beat up. I don't think UM has the type of team anymore where they can run play after play, so the QB has to make the play either through great passing or running.

    Sean T.

    Tue, Aug 24, 2010 : 12:54 a.m.

    I hear ya, JAXON!


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

    Pete, that's an interesting observation about the same number of reporters surrounding Robinson and Forcier. Nice metaphor for the quarterback race. An observation made in one of the posts indicates any one of the three UM quarterbacks would be a starter on any other Big 10 team. I have 10 words for that observation and they begin with Pryor (OSU), Stanzi (Iowa), Tolzien (UW), Cousins (MSU), Weber (Minn), Persa (NW), Chappell (IU), Marve (Purdue), Newsome (PSU), and Scheelhaase (Illinois). The first 5 are all experienced upper classmen. The last 5 are targeted as players to watch with significant upside potentential (CBS Sports). There was no mention of the Michigan quarterbacks among the top players. Looks like... no vacancy!


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

    Well I don't know if you can blame RR for injuries to QBs. Tate has proven himself to either love the crowd cheers to him slooooowly getting up off the ground, or injury prone. Of course no one is going to argue with you stating Denard was awful last year; just maybe the worst "passes" I've seen come out of a QBs hands in college ball.


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

    Rhatt, I was talking about Gardner...unproven As far as Denard yes he played last year and he was awful maybe he will be better this year but he has proven nothing yet. The awful RR error has been 2 seasons and not one of his QB's have made it through the season without being injured.


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 5:40 p.m.

    Rhatt. Denard a running QB...Where? High school? Big difference between High School and college. How many game snaps has he took in college? He has yet to be hit by Big Ten defenses...understand it?

    Lorain Steelmen

    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.

    Jaxon BoyFriend. I agree with your comments that the offense will carry the defense this year, and perhaps, next year as well. BUT, eventually, this program will have balance AND effectiveness on BOTH sides of the ball! When we reach that point, we are national championship contenders. And that was exactly the point of making the switch two years ago, to RR and his program. As a student when BO came in, I loved the low scoring defenive struggles, but I have come to terms with the fact, that BO and his successors, could NOT beat wide open offensive teams, that also had strong defenses. These were the national contendors. I give RR credit for sticking to his philosophy. My only hope now, is that Greg Robinson, and company, can shore up that D enough, this year. (The key is a very young secondary, that must grow up in a hurry!) Meanwhile, I think we will have three excellent QB's and we'll find a way to use them ALL, to win games. I like the way RR has used the 'wings', to send a message to the entire team, that they have a chance, with hard work, to be part of something special. I think the next 2 or 3 years will be a lot of fun for all UM fans...Go Blue!


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

    "you got 3 quarterbacks that could start on any Big Ten team right now..." ummmm "Michigan always had best QB's in Nation..." What were the names of those Heisman winning UofM Qbs?


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

    You're right Mick52. The defense is the key to a great season. GO BLUE, Defense, Defense.....!!!

    Jaxon Boyfriend

    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

    Mick52...agree, you got 3 quarterbacks that could start on any Big Ten team right now...chances are one will jump, Michigan always had best QB's in Nation...look @ Mallet this year, most likely Heisman and #1 draft quarterback. Agree on the defense view, it will give up a lot this year...but in all likely hood our improved offense will score 42-48 points a game. It will be a shoot out, and I for one never liked those type of games...but if it means 8-10 wins, I'm all aboard!


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1 p.m.

    If Denard wins the starting QB job, he'll be the most exciting player that Michigan fans will have witnessed in many years. He has the skills and talent that others dream about. Just call him "Mr. Excitement".


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

    I'm with azwolf. I fear that at least one of these guys might pull a Ryan Mallet and go somewhere for more playing time. Hope not, I would like to see them all play. Gardner's height and size is impressive and may be very valuable in seeing over the giant linemen on both sides of the ball. I prefer the QB who won't turn over the ball. TOs may have cost M 3 games last year. I want the reporter to ask each of them if they will stay if they don't start. Even if the coaches have decided who will start, this is what you will hear, likely up to game day. Keeps the QBs working hard and honing those skills. That said, too much news on offense, not enough on defense. Michigan averaged 29.5 pts/game in '09, the most since '04. But gave up 27.5/game, almost double what the '06 team gave up. What's going on there? DEFENSE wins ballgames.


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

    I watch all the QBs during their Saturday scrimmage. Tate was overall more accurate than Denard when throwing. This was especially true when leading the receiver. He wasn't too bad on the run, either. However, Denard was a flash when he legged it out. From what I saw Saturday and at the Spring Game, he really improved his accuracy.


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

    I think the comparison of pro QB's who run vs college QB's who run is in the defenses they face. Pro LBs and DBs are yet another level higher in caliber than their college counterparts. The hits that these guys bring in the pros are a lot harder and are the best of the best that the college game has. Ask Tim he smaller or less of a runner now than he was a year ago? Probably not. He's run the ball into the end zone many times, yet the hit he took a week ago knocked him out of the following game. THAT's why the pros don't like running qbs...


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

    Macabre - what Tater was saying, and I've seen the study to back it up, is a pro style drop back QB is no less prone to injury than a running QB. Sure, a running QB takes more hits but he is typically quick enough to absorb the hit the most optimum way to avoid injury. A drop back QB is subjected more to situations where he gets blindsided by a large DE or DB coming at full speed. Now, Jaxon actually makes a good argument that the running QB is more prone to fumble. This is entirely true since the running QB typically carries the ball for a much longer time during a game than a drop back QB.


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

    Imagine how difficult it would be to defense three quarterbacks in the backfield. All three could pass or run off of many different setups. JR


    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 5:44 a.m.

    Lemans. The difference is Denard is a running QB. The NFL is talking about QBs than run the ball. Huge difference! Get it yet?

    Sean T.

    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 3:19 a.m.

    Good one, Steve.

    Sean T.

    Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:54 a.m.

    Denard Robinson isn't six foot tall is he? I hate when schools cheat on measurements, no matter if it's college or high school. Doesn't Devin Gardner look impressive in stature?


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

    81, I agree with you. Gardner will eventually become the starter and the mainstay of this team. Let's just hope this doesn't have to be this season, although when I watched the Wolverine preview on the BTN last week, they mentioned that RR was planning on playing Gardner this year. I would much rather see him redshirt and develop then waste a year with two experienced QBs already in the fold. We'll see. BTW, I also think Robinson and Forcier both handled this interview well, and I like Robinson's answer to how this season will go. I can't wait for the season to start because I think we all just need to sit back and see what happens. We're all just like a bunch of blind squirrels with 'guarantees' of what will happen this season while not really having a clue. My pick: 8-4...but then again, I'm a blind squirrel like the rest of us.

    Macabre Sunset

    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 7:28 p.m.

    No, tater, that's not a realistic assessment. Pat White was a remarkable player. For his durability and athleticism. For that reason, he's in the NFL even though he doesn't play a position the NFL uses. Without Pat White, there would be no he-who-cannot-be-named at Michigan. So I personally hate Pat White. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I hate him.


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 7:22 p.m.

    I like that a running Qb is exposed to less hits? That is hilarious!!! You meen the NFL has had it wrong all along? If their QBs run they are told to get down and not take the hits. I guess you missed the qoute from Pat White feeling like a old man after his junior season. I heard Minnesota is going to run Farve alot more this season so he can make it through the season!!!


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

    tater - Direct hits are not necessary to stop UM's QBs - defenses just tackle the ball. It's pretty simple really. Also, running QBs are more prone to fumbling - one of the drawbacks to the "new" WVA style offense.


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 5:48 p.m.

    Devin Gardner is the best of the lot and will eventually win the starting job. It may not be until next season, but he WILL emerge as the #1 QB. He has the mental attitude, physical skills, size, and strength to succeed. He is far and away RR's best recruit.


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

    all three have tremendous talents and ability for this offense to be very potent and get to the endzone alot. all three need to keep working hard and lead this team no matter who starts.

    3 And Out

    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

    btw I like Tate and hope he wins the job this year

    3 And Out

    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 5:20 p.m.

    They are gonna need 3 who can play in this Rich Rod offense which exposes the QB to many hits. BTW, Devin looks just like Jon Amos the dad from Good Times.


    Sun, Aug 22, 2010 : 4:52 p.m.

    i like what drob said on the team being better than last years JUST WATCH THE GAMES.! go blue all in