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Posted on Sat, Nov 13, 2010 : 6:29 p.m.

Michigan quarterbacks struggle amid rainy conditions at Purdue

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan sophomore quarterback Tate Forcier runs in the second half.

Melanie Maxwell |

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Denard Robinson will start at quarterback next week for the Michigan football team against Wisconsin.

That much, Rich Rodriguez knows.

Despite alternating Robinson on a series-by-series basis with Tate Forcier throughout the second half Saturday, the Michigan football coach wanted to make it clear there’s no quarterback controversy.

As for everything else that happened to his sophomore quarterback against Purdue in a 27-16 Michigan win?

“I’m befuddled a little bit,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “Because he hasn’t played like that in a while, and we have to get back and find out what the hell went wrong, and get him back to where he was.”

For most of the season, Robinson could do no wrong. On Saturday, there wasn’t much he could do right.

A driving rain didn’t help him keep his grip on the football, even if he maintained it on the starting position. But it wasn’t only the weather that contributed to his four-turnover performance.

“It was a rainy game, bad game, slippery, bad reads, all that,” Robinson said.

It didn’t help that Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan applied constant pressure. The Wolverines offensive line had allowed four sacks all year. Kerrigan registered four Saturday.

Robinson lost two of his three fumbles and threw two interceptions Saturday, including one that Purdue’s Ricardo Allen returned 94 yards for a touchdown.

He finished 13-of-21 passing for 176 yards, and threw one touchdown. He rushed 22 times for 68 net yards, the second consecutive game he has been held to less than 70 rushing yards.

In the second quarter, he passed John Navarre’s school record for all-purpose yards in a single season, set in 2003, and finished the game with 3,407 on the season.

But that was hardly a consolation on a difficult afternoon. After his second interception, which led to a Purdue field goal in the third quarter, coaches started the platoon.

“At times, Denard wasn’t sharp, so it was just time to get a look at the other kid, and he did some things,” offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said. “But it never was “Well, Denard’s out.’ We just wanted to try the other one for a series, then we made the decision to go with both of them.”

Rodriguez bristled at the suggestion that Robinson had been benched.

“I think it’s a little harsh to say he was benched,” he said. “We’re just giving him a break and letting him see what’s going on in there, and putting him back in. When you bench a guy, it means you bench him and you don’t put him back in.”

Not that it was any solace for the Wolverines, but Forcier couldn’t do much better in the elements. He completed one of four passes for 17 yards, and absorbed the last of Kerrigan’s four sacks.

“It was tough,” Forcier said. “I even talked to Denard about it. There wasn’t much you can do. It was just, it’s the weather and you deal with it. We came away with the W.”

Afterward, Rodriguez quickly pointed out that Robinson would start next week. He viewed Saturday’s performance as an anomaly from a sophomore who once was a Heisman Trophy candidate.

“We’ve probably gotten spoiled because this is his first year as a starter,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so sharp, and I don’t know if it was conditions or what have you, but he wasn’t his normal self today.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

@ Maizenblue I can't agree with you more...I work at a place with lots of Buckeye Fans. They seem to know just as much as I do about the Michigan football program. And I can barely name any of the players on their roster. A few of course but I could care less what's going on in the day to day dealings down in Columbus. I swear they pay soo much attention to us bc they know their time at the top is fading quick and IMO it's about over. And Terrell Pryor still can't throw...his numbers aren't that good. Denard will achieve more by the time he graduates. Of course sadly he will never make it to the next level and TP will be holding a clipboard somewhere on the sideline and make decent money.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

To the OSU: Why so much interest in the UM QB's? I am not really interested in what TP does or does not do. Not to worry, you time to aganize will arrive sooner than anticipated.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

Mick52: A critical difference between Pryor and DR. Pryor finishes his games, mentally and physically. He doesn't get pulled for throwing "pics" and he isn't constantly hurt. Save your fingers the effort. I know he's a freshman. So was Pryor 2 years ago. DR needs to lace up his cleats and play the game. Oh, I forgot, he doesn't do that... there's an image to protect.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

Kind of an ugly game but a quite remarkable win, two games in a row, winning despite many turnovers. I have come to the conclusion that anyone suggesting Coach RR should be dismissed is not a Michigan fan, but either an MSU fan or more likely an osu fan. Michigan has never had an offense as productive as this one and when they can pull out wins with that many turnovers it is very promising. Sure the defense is porous, but improving. DRob is great, doing much better than Terrell Pryor, who is not living up to the hype he received. DRob may break the all time QB offensive record in his first year as a starter. So from the posts, I can feel some buckeyes shaking in their boots. Maybe not this year, but for the years ahead. Kudos to osu for good teams but they should recall there were a few down years not too far back.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

Buckeyes are red; Michigan is blue. We're still chasing roses, not the same for you. Papa Joe came to our town and put up fast points. But after four quarters he was thrown out of our joint. Rain, sleet and mud Greeted you at Purdue; and if you had lost RR would have be through. Turning over the ball is the weakness of your team; Judging from the posts, it make all the alums scream. Watch out for the Badgers Many points they can score; They ruined our season and for that I am sore. RR likes 2 q-backs: DR and Tate. Against the Badger defense They'll both meet their fate. For us, it's the Hawkeyes and we must do our best A loss wilts our roses and its third place, at best. After this week, The 27th's the date. On Thursday we give thanks then on to you to berate. To the UM alums who say RR must go We plan to beat you soundly so everyone will know. RR has destroyed the tradition of the BLUE. But as soon as you dump him your troubles will be few. The "greatest of rivalries" will again have its day. And both Woody & Bo will again cheer, "Hooray!"


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

Having two QB's that can play is good for Michigan right now. They can both make plays as needed, I look at this as a positive. Denard looks a little beat up, but weather was awful yesterday many turnovers throughout college football yesterday in games with bad weather. With that said, they need to find a way to hold on to the ball! Should be a fun game next week.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 12:41 a.m.

So, it's like this: Denard carried the team on his back for the better part of the season and now he's beat-up, sore and tired. Tate should be behind center for at least half the game next week.

3 And Out

Sat, Nov 13, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

We are #6 in the Big Ten now!!!!! YAAAA 6th place baby!!!!


Sat, Nov 13, 2010 : 7:18 p.m.

The primary thing I see in Denard appears to be regressing in the last two or three games. He is making improper decisions at critical times. Maybe he is attempting to do too much instead of allowing his teammates to have a piece of the action. He appears slower and his passes aren't as crisp and accurate as earlier in the season. I suspect some of the hard hits he has taken is having an effect on his playing.