8A - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Michigan Daily michigandaily.c+
Th e rigtrles for
401 Morris and Douglass
Sophomore quarterback Tate Forcier spelled fellow sophomore signal caller Denard Robinson in last week's win over Purdue.
Rotati ng QBs?
it could work
ast weekend after the Michi-
gan football team's win at
Purdue, both Michigan
tioned about JOE
Robinson in favor of backup sopho-
more quarterback Tate Forcier.
They told reporters not to think of
taking Robinson out as "benching"
him. They simply needed a spark,
and theythoughtForcier could pro-
Robinson and Forcier alternated
drives for the remainder of the
"If you run a running back in or
out or a wide receiver in or out or
a lineman or a linebacker, you just
say,'Oh, you're giving him a break,'
" Rodriguez said after the game in
West Lafayette. "If youtake a quar-
terback out, you say you're benching
him. We're just giving him a break
and lethim see what's going on out
It kind of makes sense. Quarter-
back is really the only position in
football, besides maybe punter/kick-
er, that's expected to take every snap
of every game barring an extreme
Butthe move to Forcier when
Robinson was struggling raises a
First, if we're not going to call
Robinson's substitution out of the
game "benching," then can we call
Forcier a "backup?" Rodriguez
has been adamant all year, despite
how much Forcier has played,
that Robinson is the starter. But
if he gets pulled, if he's not mov-
ing the offense, doesn't that make
Forcier more of an "option" than a
This hasn't happened yet, but the
quarterback situation is slowly mov-
ing toward what it was last year, just
in reverse. Last year, it was Robin-
son providing a change of pace when
the Forcier-led offense stalled. This
year, it's the other way around.
But Iguess Forcier's position on
the depth chartis less than pressing.
The second, and more important,
question: Does this work? Actually,
it mightbe: Can it work?
For me, it's complicated. In the-
ory, it should work, right? The two
quarterbacks have such varied skill
sets. Robinson is an average passer,
but he's faster than a cheetah on ste-
roids. Forcier is so accurate itseems
like his eyes are affixed with a per-
manent scope, but he's an average
runner. Coaches have said as much
after games in whichForcier played.
In reality though, it's much hard-
er than itseems, and the reasons for
that are more cerebral. The quar-
terback is supposed to be a player
who commands respectcthrough not
only his play buthis leadership. It's
essential that the quarterback be the
leader of the offense, and it's tough
to lead when you're only in the game
every other drive.
Rotating quarterbacks is uncom-
mon because of something I like to
call the "Eighth-Grade AAU Bas-
ketball Conundrum." This refers to
the common (and somewhat, ahem,
personal) problem of pulling players
when they are performing poorly.
of course, this needs to be done
sometimes, but it shouldn't be over-
done. If it gets to the point where
the player thinks he's getting pulled
every time he makes a mistake,
it makes him playtimidly. And it
becomes impossible for me, err, the
player to play well.
Do I think Robinson and Forcier
have stronger mental fortitudes than
I did as an eighth-grader?of course.
But I think it's still a factor. If Robin-
son thinks he's getting pulled every
time he throws a pick, it won't make
him throw less picks - it will make
him playtimidly. And that's not
good for anyone.
There are some Michigan-
specific positives thatcsuggest this
could work here. First, Rodriguez
deserves praise for making sure the
quarterbacks take near-equal first-
team snaps in practice. This allows
each to develop some timing with all
the wideouts so everyone is familiar
with everyone come game time.
Second, praise needs to go to each
of the quarterbacks for having awe-
some attitudes about splitting time.
Robinson was happy in his role last
year and is happy in his role this
year. But really, he would probably
be happy if all his material posses-
sions consisted of a paper clip and a
few breath mints - that'sjust who
The real pleasant surprise is how
Forcier has responded to his role
post-Connecticut. You can tell he
wants nothing more than to play, but
he has done an amazingjob of keep-
ing a great attitude the whole season
and being happy with his playing
time. He is willingto do whatever is
best for the team, which
is an admirable 180 from
These two mentalities
combine to make a largely
ing duo that can kill you
with the run and the
pass. And this team has
enough senior leadership
on the offense (redshirt
junior David Molk, senior
Stephen Schilling) to
not worry about which
quarterbackto look to as
a leader. Taking all of this
into account, it's tough to
see rotating quarterbacks
It'd better. My editor
alreadytold me he's taking
me off the page if I'm mak-
ing a mistake here.
Stapleton can be reached
or an athlete, starting for
any sports team normally
a coach's con-
fidence in that ZAK
athlete rela- PYZIK
tive to other On Men's
players. But Bosketboll
men's basketball team - not so
much. The first five on the floor
aren't always the best five, espe-
cially with Michigan coach John
Beilein's unconventional approach
to using his roster.
For the Wolverines, the most
important question revolves
around who should get the most
minutes, not who should start.
Sophomore Darius Morris has
started at pointguard. However,
Beilein has occasionally swapped
Morris in and out with junior Stu
Douglass, who Beilein says runs
the floor for the'Maize team' -
another way of sayingthe 'B' team.
At other times, Douglass is on the
floor with Morris at the two guard
spot, instead of the one. I prefer
this second option.
Morris is arguably better than
and at least as capable as Doug-
lass at runningthe pointguard
position. But if Morris plays point
guard instead of Douglass, Doug-
lass can be the Wolverines' main
shooting guard. This means Mich-
igan's two bestball handlers are on
the court at the same time. Both
can push the floor, which is what
Beilein wants his offense to do. As
a result, Douglass can focus more
on his shot, relieved of having to
worry aboutpoint-guard duties.
"Stu seems more likea natural
two (guard)," redshirt freshman
forward Jordan Morgan said after
Michigan's win over South Caro-
lina Upstate last Saturday. "And
Darius may be better at pushing
the ball. So with Darius in the
game Stu will be more comfortable
shooting the ball."
In thatgame, Douglass played
both positions. But he scored all
eight of his points when Morris
was playing the pointbecause
he had more time to concentrate
on getting in the best position to
"Darius is really good atpenetra-
tion," Douglass said on Saturday.
"Darius is really good atrunning
the break and finding the open
man. I benefit a lotcoff of that."
There is a drawback to Morris
and Douglass being on the floor at
the same time. It limits the oppor-
tunities for junior Zack Novak and
freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. to
play at the same time. But this isn't
the end of the world.
When Beilein wants to run a
four-guard offense - which he
did often last year - Hardaway
Jr. and Novak can play at the
same time, no questions asked.
But when there needs to be a big
man presence, Hardaway Jr. and
Novak can be swapped. In that
first game, Hardaway Jr. was more
of an offensive threat than Novak.
He tallied a game-high 19 points
against South Carolina Upstate,
while Novak had justseven.
On the other hand, Novak
creates more of a burden for
opposing teams on the defensive
end. Beilein has said that Novak
struggles as a forward in the four
Sophomore guard Darius Morris has split time at the point with Stu Douglass.
position because he is undersized.
Likewise, Beilein says that he is
at a slight disadvantage at the
two-guard because many guards
are quicker than him. His natural
spot, then, is the three guard. It's
a haven where he can just tower
over his counterparts and rebound
like he's playing against his young-
"For so long (last year), I
was under there battling with
the big guys," Novak said after
collecting a team-high eight
rebounds against the Spartans.
"I know how it is, so I was just
going in there and trying to help
them out. Those little rebounds,
they're just right there. They can
barely get me. If I can just come
and get them uncontested, I'm
going to do that and try and make
their job easier."
Ultimately, with Morris run-
ning the point, Douglass's shot
benefits. Since he doesn't have to
worry about running the floor, the
Wolverines benefit from the dual
threat of Morris and Douglass both
pushing the ball and taking shots.
And then Novak and Hardaway Jr.
step in when their specific skills
are most suitable for the position
Michigan is in.
In the end, everyone wins.
Berenson impressed with his
defense's offensive production
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Writer
For the No. 10 Michigan hock-
ey team, the bestoffense has been
a good defense - or more spe-
cifically, an offensively minded
Through 12 games last season,
the six-man defensive unit mus-
tered just two goals. The snake-
bitten Wolverines suffered a
five-game losing streak while
stumblingto a 5-7-0 record.
Hoping to avoid the early-sea-
son woes of last year, Michigan
coach Red Berenson encouraged
his defensemen to take a more
aggressive mindset in the offen-
With Michigan (5-2-1 CCHA,
6-3-3 overall) just a point away
from first place in the conference
at the 12-game mark this season,
the defense seems to have taken
Berenson's advice to heart. The
backliners have pelted opposing
goaltenders with 92 shots, com-
biningto score seven goals.
"Whenever the defense can
chip in offensively, it's a plus,
especially when the offense
isn't scoring or it's a low-scoring
game," junior defenseman Bran-
don Burlon said on Tuesday. "It's
always important to have the
defense contributing on both
ends ... because offense comes
from good defense." "You have to be readycto recov-
With aboutthe three-quarters er and get back. It's a little bit of
of the season remaining, Bur- a catch-22 for a defenseman.
Ion leads the defense with three If you're an offensive-minded
goals, a number that matches his defenseman like Burlon, you've
total from lastyear. got to make smart decisions,
According to Berenson, the when he stays up and when he
increase inoffensiveoutputfrom stays back."
the defense has been spurred by To illustrate the risk of attack-
the ability of players like Bur- ing too aggressively in the offen-
Ion, who have the quickness and sive zone, Berenson pointed to
puck-handling skills to create the third period of last Friday's
scoring chances. game against Notre Dame when
"We're encouraging our 'D,' sophomore defenseman Lee
like everybody, to join the rush," Moffie stepped up to challenge a
Berenson said. "We're encourag- Fighting Irish forward. Moffie's
ing our forwards to get the puck check took him out of the play
back to the 'D' (so) they can get and Notre Dame took a two-on-
shots through. ... We need scor- one rush into the Michigan zone
ing from our 'D.' to score the game-winning goal.
"I think every team values "Moffie got trapped and
defensive scoring." pinched in," Berenson said.
Berenson acknowledges that "That's a bad decision. But if
the danger of a counterattack you're jumping up with the puck,
is magnified when defensemen at least you're not trapped unless
play a larger role in the offensive you make a bad play with the
zone. If a forward doesn't pick puck. So I think it's very impor-
up his defensive assignment, an tant that you pick your spots
offensive turnover can lead to whenyoujump up."
a quality scoring chance on the For Burlon, the offensive pro-
other end of the ice. duction is nice, but it won't come
"I don't mind our defense at the expense of sound defense.
jumping up on the rush, but "Ithinkit's just pridein defense
I don't want them trapped," and taking care of the small detail
Berenson said. "For example, that will lead to offense," Burlon
one of our 'D' got trapped when said. "We watch enough video,
they scored thattwo-on-one goal we work hard in practice, it's just
on Friday night. a matter of executing."
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