Monday, August 9, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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Season Preview Tight Ends
Forcier, Robinson locked in close battle
By RYAN KARTJE
Through four weeks last season,
the Wolverines' so-called quarter-
back battle had thoroughly dimin-
ished to leave one candidate named
savior of the Michigan football pro-
Tate Forcier amassed almost 700
yards and seven touchdowns - a solid
stat line when you consider that he
barely threw against Eastern Michi-
gan and led one of the best drives in
the past decade to defeat Notre Dame
at the last second.
And, oh yeah, he was 4-0.
But the undefeated days quickly
diminished after the now-soph-
omore's late interception against
And soon after that, the wheels fell
off the jam-packed Forcier bandwag-
on and the Wolverines were ineligible
for the postseason yet again.
That's when talks of Forcier's sec-
ond half shoulder injury picked up.
But that's also when fellow sopho-
more signal caller Denard Robinson
started making his move.
While some were praising Forcier's
moxie, others couldn't deny the X-fac-
tor that Robinson could be on offense.
Everyone saw his first play in a
Michigan uniform: fumbled snap
leads to 43-yard sensational touch-
down, and everyone has since seen
his 2010 Spring Game performance: a
staggering performance highlighted
by a 97-yard zinger across the deep
middle to Roy Roundtree.
But even Robinson, who's been the
been out there
flavor-of-the-week candidate to start
in the fall since that April matchup,
has his flaws, like the fact that he's
never proven himself against Big
Ten pass defenses, throwing twice as
many interceptions a' touchdowns
and completing just 45 percent of his
To some, however, Robinson seems
the third and most important quar-
terback battle of his tenure in Ann
The right answer to that question
will do a great deal to make or break
the West Virginian's career.
Along with Robinson's showcase
of his newly fine-tuned passing in
the Spring Game, he also came out
and made an impression at summer
workouts with his teammates that his
counterpart under center apparently
"Denard has been out there
through the thick and thin and been
out there all the time regardless if
he's hurting," senior cornerback Troy
Woolfolk said at Big Ten Media Day.
"And Tate, he tries to come out, but
he's not as consistent as Denard is.
"And that's allowed Denard to
jump a little bit ahead of Tate and I
think that Tate's going to have to do a
lot of work to catch back up to Denard
in camp this year."
It also doesn't help that questions
of Forcier's maturity have surfaced
and resurfaced without much change
in Rodriguez's response that he still
needs to improve.
In the case of quarterback battles,
however, it's best not to completely
read into things like this and to err
on the side of incumbency before fall
Photo illustration of Michigan sophomores Tate Forcier, left, and Denard Robinson.
That's not to say the coaches won't
notice Forcier's absence in summer
workouts, whether they were there
But it's fair to say that Forcier's
moxie may have just needed a quick
reboot, one that the coaches will fully
see come the start of fall practice on
One can't ignore that Robinson's
teammates have been glowing about
him for a while now, though. He's
becoming "a leader," according to
most players, and Rodriguez has been
clear that he'll be on the field no mat-
like a changed man this season.
So what's the right decision for
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez in
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With Forcier, Rodriguez has a
proven winner (sort of) that is prone
to some lapses in judgment and a
heightened amount of happy feet.
With Robinson, he has an electric
athlete who could make a lot of mis-
takes. Again, it's far from a clear-cut
And then there's Devin Gardner,
mega recruit extraordinaire, who
looks like the future at the position
(don't they all?), butI wouldn't expect
him to do anything but redshirt when
there are two qualified candidates at
If the coaches truly believe that
Forcier's injury affected his perfor-
mance for the latter half of the season
last year, then I can't help but believe
that he has the upper hand coming
into the year.
Game experience is one of the most
underrated and underappreciated
assets in a college quarterback, and
that's an area where Robinson won't
be able to outdo Forcier. Not by the
first game, at least.
Time will tell with Robinson's new
arm and Forcier's reoccurring matu-
rity issues, but if Forcier fails to shock
Ann Arbor yet again through his first
four games, he'll be holding the clip-
board come Big Ten season, no doubt
PROJECTED STARTER: Tate
SURPRISE PLAYER: Devin Gardner