8 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Rodriguez says Robinson is undisputed
starter, will start in Saturday's matchup
By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Writer
A bruised knee shouldn't prevent
sophomore quarterback Denard Robin-
son from starting Saturday against Indi-
ana, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said
Rodriguez said Robinson is his undis-
puted No. 1 starter - even
after suffering a minor NOTEBOOK
injury last weekend
against Bowling Green. Sophomore Tate
Forcier and true freshman Devin Gardner
are both considered second-string.
"Other guys can run the offense, (but)
Denard is special," Rodriguez said at his
weekly news conference. "He's got the
ability to break every play himself. He's so
explosive as a runner."
Forcier went 12-for-
12 passing on Saturday,
and he and Gardner
each threw for a touch- "Other
down. Gardner also ran
for another. Though run the
offensive players and
the coaching staff (but) I
have maintained that
the game plan doesn't is spe
change depending on
who's under center,
Rodriguez said there
are differences between the three.
"We run the same plays with all of our
quarterbackst" Rodriguez said. "We may
emphasize something a little bit differ-
ently with Devin or Tate, but we would
expect those guys to be just as efficient
as far as moving the offense. They're
not going to be as explosive as Denard
because he is different, but they should
still be efficient."
Rodriguez said Robinson's bruised
knee would keep him out of Monday's
practice, but he hoped the sophomore
would be able to fully practice Tuesday.
Rodriguez added that Forcier and Gard-
ner will get equal snaps in practice this
week, and how they perform will deter-
mine which quarterback enters the game
in certain situations.
BEEN HERE BEFORE: After the Wol-
verines finished off their non-conference
season with a sparkling 4-0 record, the
inevitable comparisons began.
Last year's 4-0 start, the thrilling win
over Notre Dame and Heisman hype
around the starting quarterback all
seemed quite familiar.
But Rodriguez said it's not even compa-
"Every year is different," Rodriguez
said. "I'm not goingto sit here and tell you
we're completely where we want to be.
We're not close to where we're going to be
"But at the same time, I think this
year's team is executing pretty well, play-
ing pretty good at times. I know we have
to play better."
One key difference
from last year is the
guys can depth Michigan has at
some key positions, like
offense, quarterback. The Wol-
verines also relied on six
)enard different running backs
i." last weekend with four
Cdal." of them rushing for at
least 56 yards.
remains a concern,
though the unit responded well after a
disappointing performance against Mas-
sachusetts two weeks ago. Rodriguez said
in-game adjustments and basic skills like
tackling need to improve.
Regardless of the team's strengths and
weaknesses, one thing is clear: A 4-0 start
doesn't guarantee conference success. It
doesn't even guarantee a bowl game, as
the Wolverines learned last year.
In two years under Rodriguez, Michi-
gan has gone 3-13 in Big Ten play. Only one
of those wins has come on the road.
"You can ask anybody on our team,"
Rodriguez said. "They'll tell you how
important the Big Ten schedule is, how
much better we're going to have to play
Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson sustained a knee inury atainst Bowling Green an Saturday, but he is expected to start atainst Indiana.
RUNNING BACK ROTATION: Michi-
gan's six running backs combined for
282 yards on the ground against Bowling
Green, by far the team's most balanced
rushing attawck of the season.
Rodriguez scoffed at the idea that his
running backs struggled through the first
two games of the year and then suddenly
performed better the past two weeks.
He said the game plan included more
designed runs for Robinson in the early
"It wasn't like last week or two weeks
ago we gave them magic pills and they
became running backs," Rodriguez said.
"You know, they were running great dur-
ing camp, running hard. It's just the way
teams have been defending us, sometimes
they take that away a little bit.
"They all have some explosive ability.
Nobody's as explosive as Denard. When
you compare who has the most explosive
ability, it is No. 16."
Rodriguez said he expects to use three
or four running backs regularly heading
into Big Ten season.
INJURY NOTES: Forcier suffered a
minor quad injury, but is fine. Fresh-
man tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint hurt
his shoulder in Saturday's game, and the
team will know more about his status in
the next couple of days. Junior running
back Mike Shaw (sprained knee) is day-to-
day. Linebacker Brandon Herron (ankle)
and safety Carvin Johnson (knee) could
return Saturday. Safety Mike Williams
has had multiple concussions, which con-
cerns the coaching staff.
. ''' .tea. ,;k
Daily Sports Editor Nick Spar brings
you his first edition of Power
Rankings, sorting the best
individual athletes on campus.
Denard Robinson, Quarterback (Football)
No surprise here. And at this rate, Denard has the No. 1 spot locked until the end of 2010. Entering Saturday's game against Bowling Green, he had outgained 10
teams ranked in the top-25 by himself while completing 70 percent of his passes. And after garnering almost 200 more yards against the Falcons in the game's
first nine minutes, he's a sure bet for the top spot on a lot of lists. With the more physical Big Ten season looming, the only concern is that Shoelace seems to take
at least one big hit per game that makes Michigan fans cringe.
Lexi Zimmerman, Setter (Women's Volleyball)
Michigan coach Mark Rosen says Zimmerman is the best volleyball player to ever wear a Michigan uniform, and that alone could earn her a spot in the rankings.
But she also broke the Wolverines' all-time assists record on Friday against Iowa. The record was previously set by Linnea Mendoza, who had held the program
record of 5,072 assists for the past 13 years. Zimmerman has also led No.19 Michigan to a 13-1 start and she could surpass the Big Ten assists mark later this season.
' Lion Kim (Men's Golf)
Not only does he have one of the best names of any Michigan student-athlete ever, but in July Kim also earned a trip to Augusta. No, he doesn't have tickets to
witness a full round at Amen Corner (which would be pretty cool, anyway). He qualified to play at the 2011 Masters - something that hasn't been done by a Wol-
verine in 71 years. Kim is truly one of Michigan's unsung stars. In 2009, he led the team to its first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1968. Oh, and by the way.
Soony Saad, Forward (Men's Soccer)
Soony -the younger brother of teammate Hamoody -is on fire to start his freshman year. At one point last week, he led the entire nation with seven goals in his
first eight games, highlighted by a hat trick in a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against Kentucky last week. But while the newly formed Ultras may be making some
Denard comparisons, Soony's impressive start is not nearly as impressive as Denard's. Because as far as I know, Soony's shoes were tied for all seven goals.
Michigan Offensive Line
Here are Michigan's team rushing totals from the win against Bowling Green: 56 carries, 467 yards and seven touchdowns. I have a hunch that the offensive
5line had something to do with those mind-boggling numbers, so the entire unit earns a spot on this list. They made anyone who touched the ball look like Walter
Payton. And, yes, maybe Bowling Green's defense also helped make every runner look like Walter Payton. But the offense is averaging 4L.3 points per game, and
so the offensive line deserves credit for the passing and rushing attacks clicking on all cylinders. Denard often talks about how crucial the linemen our to the
" offense's success, and it's tough not to agree.
Nkem Ezurike, Forward (Women's Soccer)
Ezurike had two goals and one assist in Michigan's Dedication game on Sept. 18 in front of a record crowd. She also provided an equalizing goal in a 2-2 draw to
help Michigan avoid a loss to Toledo a week earlier. The football team sure could have used her help in the kicking game against the Rockets two seasons ago. On
second thought, the football team could use her help in the kicking game this weekend at Indiana.
Jordan Kovacs, Safety (Football)
Kovacs has been a pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing Wolverine secondary. He has already registered 35 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble
and a fumble recovery. Granted, while some of the tackles have occurred 20 or 30 yards past the line of scrimmage, the former walk-on seems to be more a part
of the solution than part of the problem for defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and the struggling Michigan defense.
Jason Jung (Men's Tennis)
Jung - th6 25th-ranked player in the nation - earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the Cliffs' NCAA Tennis Classic after going 4-0 in singles play. Watch
out for the Wolverines tennis team this year. Jung and sophomore Evan King, last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, are both competing in the ITA All-
American Championships on Thursday. And the team had three freshmen earn their first singles wins of their collegiate careers this past weekend.
9H aley Jones, Goalkeeper (Field Hockey)
Jones was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Wolverines to two victories over the weekend. One of the wins was a 2-0 upset over No.
14 Penn State, which was her third shutout in the team's first 10 games. She currently ranks sixth in the nation in goals-against-average, allowing less than a goal
0 per game.
Tate Forcier, Quarterback (Football}
(FROM TOP) Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (Jed The first edition of the Daily Sports Power Rankings starts with a quarterback and ends with a quarterback. Forcier has come a long way in the last three weeks. He
Moch/Daily), freshman forward Soony Saad was perfect throwing the ball on Saturday, going l2-for-12 and adding in a goal-line touchdown toss. And in the postgame press conference, he even went as far to say,
(Torehan Sharman/Daily) and redshirt sopho- "I love Michigan. I love everything about it." That sounds a bit different than the tune he was singing after the win over UConn. If all goes well for Denard against
more safety Jordan Kovacs (Sam Wolson/Daily). the Hoosier this weekend, chances are that Forcier will drop off the list. But who would have even expected him to ever be on it after he didn't get the starting nod?