Michigan has cloudy future after Rodriguez
Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press COURTESY PHOTO
Michigan’s Denard Robinson, left, and head coach Rich Rodriguez talk with the press after loosing 52-14 to Mississippi State in the Progressive Gator Bowl, which probably sealed the coach’s fate. He was fired on Jan. 5.
Rich Rodriguez, who compiled the worst three-year record in the 131 years of Michigan football, has been fired as the university’s head coach.
Athletic Director David Brandon announced his decision Jan. 5, during a press conference in the shadows of Michigan Stadium.
“I have completed a systematic and thorough review of our football program and believe that a change in leadership is necessary,” said Brandon, who also dismissed all the assistant coaches.
Rodriguez was fired after three seasons as head coach, during which time his team was 15-22 with a record of 6-18 in Big Ten play. Rodriguez was also unable to defeat rivals Michigan State or Ohio State during his three seasons.
“While I am disappointed to depart Ann Arbor before we were able to reach the level of success we had in our sights, I am confident that the players who remain have the potential to do great things and to return the Wolverines to greatness,” he said in a statement through the university the day after he was fired.
The former head coach was involved in numerous conflicts during his three seasons.
Shortly after being hired as head coach, many players transferred or dropped out of the program. Most notable was offensive linemen Justin Boren, who left to go to hated rival Ohio State. Boren was very public in his displeasure with Rodriguez’s coaching style.
The following season, The Detroit Free Press reported that Rodriguez and his coaches were violating NCAA rules by making players practice more than the NCAA rules allow. Several players spoke anonymously to the newspaper about the potential violations. A year later, the NCAA would find five major rule violations and the program was put on probation for the first time in its history.
After making his announcement, Brandon met with players at Schembechler Hall to discuss his decision. Rodriguez also spoke to the players.
“Coach Rodriguez did talk to us, and his family expressed to us that they’re going to dearly miss us and they care about us,” said defensive lineman Ryan Van Bergen. “We’re going to remain united and hold the front that we trust in Dave Brandon to do his job and get us a great coach to lead us into next season.”
Van Bergen was one of only a few Wolverines who spoke openly to the media about the meeting. Wide receiver Roy Roundtree and quarterback Devin Gardner offered short statements about the mood of the meeting, but declined any other comment.
“It was sad but, you know, we gotta move on,” Roundtree said.
Defensive tackle Mike Martin was one of the last players to exit Schembechler Hall, but spoke with media briefly before leaving.
“I’ve been here as long as he has, and I’ve grown with him as he’s grown here,” Martin said. “It’s wins and losses and that’s the business part of it I guess.”
The school immediately began its search for its new head coach. The search will be thorough, but will need to be done quickly, according to Brandon, noting that the football program is the most important component in the UM athletic department.
“The UM Athletic Department cannot be successful if football is not successful,” he said.
Brandon reiterated that he has not spoken to any candidates for the job. Meantime, recruiting visits by prospective players have been rescheduled until a new staff is in place — at perhaps the most crucial time of the year. The national signing day for recruits is Feb. 2.
Several recruits have already de-committed from Michigan, including prized running back Demetrius Hart. It also seems unlikely that whoever takes over the head coaching job will be able to put together a stellar class of recruits in just under a month’s time.
Even more cause for concern are the rumors that some players may transfer out of Michigan because of Rodriguez’s firing. Star quarterback Denard Robinson has been the main subject of speculation, with many suggesting that he may follow Rodriguez to wherever he goes.
Robinson was the explosive leader of the offense last season, and was named the Big Ten MVP for his efforts. He has stated publically that he is very loyal to Rodriguez. Robinson has been unavailable for comment since the announcement of Rodriguez’s firing.
Now, in a program that proudly boasts about its stadium’s capacity to seat so many fans with such high expectations, the most important seat in the program is available.
Lowered expectations: Get ‘RichRod’ out
Coach Rich Rodriguez and quarterback Denard Robinson both exploded onto the field, ecstatic. Robinson threw his hands in the air jumping in jubilation while Rodriguez, overjoyed, looked for assistant coaches to hug.
Michigan had just beat Illinois in triple overtime, 67-65. The celebration was on in the Big House. A feeling spread throughout the team, a feeling of immense accomplishment. For the first time in three-years the Wolverines will head to a bowl game.
“We’re bowl eligible, and that’s all that matters,” quarterback Tate Forcier said after the game. “We’re winners.”
Really? When did bowl eligibility become the goal of Michigan football? Bowl eligible? Winners? Really?
Before the Nov. 6 game against Illinois that kind of celebration was limited to beating Ohio State and earning a berth to the Rose Bowl.
Robinson didn’t have a Rose in his mouth, though. He might have wanted to get a Hot-N-Ready from Little Caesars for the Pizza Pizza Bowl at Ford Field.
This is what defines success at Michigan these days?
When RichRod struggled in his first season, all the supporters said “wait ’til he has his system in. Wait ’til the third year.” We heard it over and over again.
Well, it’s the third year, and his gimmicky offensive system has worked tremendously. But he’s a head coach, not an offensive coordinator. And overall, his team isn’t winning.
New athletic director Dave Brandon has his opportunity to make his mark on the program and fire Rich Rodriguez. It needs to be done, even after a hard-fought win over Purdue to give the Wolverines seven wins this season.
Rodriguez has had his three seasons to prove if he can coach, and has a handful of Big Ten wins and, now, one bowl appearance.
RichRod was hired to take Michigan to the next level, to compete for a national championship.
Instead, he has put the Wolverines back five years, at least.
Instead of celebrating wins over rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, Michigan celebrates beating Big Ten weaklings Indiana, Illinois and Purdue.
Instead of making them title contenders, and raising expectations, Rodriguez lowered Michigan’s expectations to the extent that players are calling themselves winners for making a bowl game.
That’s not Michigan football.
Time is up for Rich Rodriguez.
Scandal is not a
‘big deal’ to some, ‘ridiculous’ to other UM fans
One of the most fabled football programs in the land is about to start its 132nd season with an enormous dark cloud overhead, and some of its devoted fans are saying, so what?
“Big deal,” said Scott Richards, 31, a lifelong fan from Jackson. “We didn’t pay any players like USC.”
He was referring to the University of Southern California’s program and allegations that former Heisman Trophy-winner Reggie Bush received payments and other incentives while attending the school.
“What do you think Bo would have said?” Richards asked, referring to the late Bo Schembechler, the iconic Wolverine’s coach.
Good question. During Schenbechler’s tenure, Michigan would have “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program” as the NCAA said now third-year coach Rich Rodriguez allegedly did.
The team was accused of overworking its players in 2009, and subsequently acknowledged requiring players to participate in otherwise optional practices that were supervised by the coaching staff, a violation of NCAA rules.
On Aug. 14, the UM athletic department headed to Seattle to meet with the NCAA in hopes that the penalties the university put in place were strong enough and that the NCAA would agree to Michigan’s self-imposed punishment.
In the meantime, fans accept it and try to cope, or downplay it and overlook it. But it’s impossible to ignore — even for those who dismiss the infractions as minor.
“What they got called out on is ridiculous,” said Austin Darket, a 19-year-old Michigan student from South Lyon. “They can’t practice just 20 hours and expect to compete on a D1 level.”
While fans like Darket are outraged by the situation and the NCAA rules, others just want the scandal to be over.
“Tough stuff,” said 41-year-old, Rockford, Ill. resident, Tabitha West. “Nobody wants it in their program, but you have to think: every program is one misfiled paper away from an infraction.”
The issue is more pressing for the besieged Rodriguez, who faced similar allegations in the program he coached at West Virginia University. He took a lot of heat as a result of the scandal, and fans seem divided into supporters and non-supporters of the coach.
“My opinion of Rich Rodriguez has not changed because of the scandals,” said West. “Change can be a frightening thing for many people, and I think the Michigan fan base is experiencing what we call a ‘flight or fight syndrome.’”
“I didn’t know him at West Virginia, but I feel like it’s something all coaches do,” said Darket.
That’s not to say that everyone supports Rodriguez, though.
“A lot of programs bend the rules. The issue here is that we’re not winning,” said longtime Michigan fan Jay Jensen, 36, Livonia. “I didn’t like (Rodriguez) to begin with.”
One of the biggest questions arising from the issue that many Michigan fans regard as simply embarrassing, is how it might affect Rodriguez’ future. While it could hurt Rodriguez in the long run, most fans believe it will come down to wins and losses that determine his job security.
“I think with no winning season, Rich Rodriguez is definitely gone,” said Jensen.
Michigan needs to see improvements this spring, hopes seven early enrollees will help
In 1934-38, the Michigan Wolverines football team never finished with a winning record. During the 72 years since, Michigan has never strung together three-straight losing seasons, but that streak is in jeopardy now.
A glittering recruiting class of 27 players could help coach Rich Rodriguez improve on his 8-16 record in Ann Arbor the past two seasons. The biggest problem: not enough talented players on his roster.
In his first season he had to call upon walk-on quarterbacks to take the reins after starter Ryan Mallet transferred to Arkansas. Last year, with position changes and injuries, Rodriguez had a walk-on safety starting.
The past two seasons, he has been looking to fill the “bare” cupboard he said the program had. He’s hoping that will change as maturing sophomores and juniors get help from the new recruits.
Nearly two weeks into spring practices, Michigan will need to see improvements from those players — including seven of the true freshmen who enrolled at Michigan in January in time to get a head start on their collegiate careers.
Devin Gardner, a quarterback from Inkster, is the most-heralded recruit. He enrolled for the spring semester to try to learn the Michigan offense. Gardner would be Rodriguez’s first dual-threat quarterback at Michigan.
Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson and Gardner will all be battling for the starting job. Forcier has the inside track, with Robinson getting reps at receiver and Gardner still learning the system.
Michigan will need to find leaders to develop on the defensive side of the ball after losing first team All-Big Ten defensive end Brandon Graham and second team All-Big Ten cornerback Donovan Warren. Even with those two leading the way last season, Michigan allowed the third-most points per game in the conference.
Will Campbell and Mike Martin are both coming off very solid years at defensive tackle, which should help the line, but the secondary is a more problematic issue. During the next two weeks, the Wolverines will need to see J.T. Turner and Vlad Emilien step up following their redshirt seasons last year.
Turner was a highly-touted recruit last year and should fill one of the two cornerback vacancies. The other corner spot is expected to be filled by Demar Dorsey, a true freshman who wasn’t able to enroll early.
At free safety, Emilien will try to take over where walk-on Mike Williams started most of last season. Troy Woolfolk can start at strong safety or corner, and it’ll mostly depend on Dorsey’s play in fall camp.
Michigan is making changes, most notably playing its first night game at Michigan Stadium in 2011 when it plays host to Notre Dame.
But it’s a day game next month that will shed the most light on Michigan’s fortunes. The Wolverines play their annual spring game on April 17.
Rich Rod gives UM fans renewed hope after another glittering recruiting class
With just two years under his University of Michigan coaching belt, Rich Rodriguez just isn’t the right fit for fans used to seeing their team compete for Big Ten titles year after year.
Rodriguez completely overhauled the Wolverines’ program, and some fans aren’t reacting well to the changes – especially after his teams have compiled an 8-16 record in two seasons. Rodriguez has yet to make a bowl game at UM, but he is nearly flawless in one aspect of his coaching: recruiting.
“All things considered, Rich Rodriguez has done a really good job [recruiting],” said 20-year-old diehard UM fan Obes Nwabara. “He had two top 10 classes his first two years and might have another this year. Coming off of 3-9 and 5-7 seasons, that is incredible.”
With the change in philosophy in offense and defense, UM has begun recruiting players that UM and the Big Ten are not familiar with. The new breed of UM players tend to be smaller – and not necessarily from the state of Michigan.
“Rich [Rodriguez] looks for players that are the most athletic,” said 20-year-old avid UM fan Brian Miller. “It’s well-known he wants to be the fastest team on the field at all times. If you can run and play football, regardless of position I think he’ll find a spot for you.”
The 2010 class looks like the prototypical Rodriguez recruiting class. Over the years, the tendency of Rodriguez-coached teams has been to find diamonds in the rough. In fact, in his years at West Virginia, arguably Rodriguez’s best offensive tandem of quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton weren’t highly touted recruits.
The 2010 Michigan class includes many sleeper prospects. Cleveland St. Ignatius High School linebacker Jake Ryan appears to be the biggest sleeper in this 2010 class. Ryan was a backup linebacker at St. Ignatius, but when starter and Ohio State University commit Scott McVey went down with injury, Ryan burst onto the scene. He played the rest of the season, and became a first-team all-state selection in Ohio.
Along with bringing in underrated prospects, Rodriguez is also bringing in the irreplaceable high-caliber recruits.
Five-star quarterback Devin Gardner, from Inkster High, has been committed to UM since early April, and four-star cornerback Cullen Christian, from Pittsburgh, chose UM over football powers much closer to home.
“I think Rich has done a great job of staying in the Midwest, and keeping the top talent in Michigan here,” said Scout.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Christopher Smith. “He’s also put a priority on Ohio and Pennsylvania, and you can tell with the number of recruits that have landed.”
For this 2010 class, Rodriguez took an approach UM fans haven’t seen before. Rodriguez had already received commitments from 27 high school athletes. The rule of thumb is that teams are allowed to sign 25 players per class. There are ways around the rules, though, and with Rodriguez potentially being on the hot seat, he was rounding up as much help as he can and soon.
“I think he’s just going with the flow of the current college landscape,” Smith said. “There are rules in place that allow you to exceed the 25 limit, and Michigan has adhered to those rules, and in the long run will benefit from them.”
Perhaps the biggest success of Rodriguez thus far is his ability to lure players away from other commitments to play at Michigan. In each of his first two seasons at Michigan, Rodriguez gained a last-minute commitment from a highly garnered national prospect.
In 2008, Rodriguez stole the commitment of wide receiver Roy Roundtree from Purdue. Roundtree had been a Purdue commitment up until National Signing Day, when high school athletes submit paperwork to officially accept a scholarship offer. That day, Roundtree decided to attend Michigan, ending his verbal commitment to Purdue.
In 2009, UM fan favorite and quarterback Denard Robinson decided to attend UM on signing day when it was widely believed that he might stay in his hometown and attend the University of Florida.
This year, Rodriguez gained the commitment of Jibreel Black, a 4-star defensive tackle who was verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati, before taking an official visit to UM. Black came away so impressed with Rodriguez and staff that after having virtually no interest in UM, he decided on the spot that it was the place for him.
Now it remains to be seen if Rodriguez can coach all this talent he has recruited into a bowl game next season, because in the final analysis it’s about winning college football games, not courting high-school boys.
UM faithful hope new AD Brandon can restore Bo’s football program
It’s been more than three years since Bo Schembechler died, and 20 since he last coached the University of Michigan. But that doesn’t mean his influence on the university football faithful is waning.
Earlier this month, Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon was announced to be the UM athletic director. Brandon will succeed Bill Martin, and will officially take over the job on March 8.
Brandon is a “Michigan man” of the highest pedigree. He played football at the University of Michigan under Schembechler, and knows nothing but winning.
So what does his hiring mean for embattled coach Rich Rodriguez after two miserable losing seasons?
Coming off a season in which the Wolverines started 4-0, but somehow failed to earn a bowl berth, Rodriguez has yet to experience the kind of winning that the Michigan faithful have come to expect.
Fans are becoming impatient, and clearly Brandon is looking over the coach’s shoulder.
“Rich Rodriguez has to get into a bowl game, and the team has to play well in it for him to keep his job,” said 24-year-old South Lyon resident Dennis Dolan. “Fans cannot handle another 5-7 disappointment.”
If Rodriguez experiences another losing season, it’s widely presumed that it will cost him his job.
“We sing about being the champions, the leaders and the best. That’s what we want to be,” Brandon said when he was introduced as the new AD at his Jan. 5 press conference. “Nobody wants to be that more than Rich Rodriguez.”
Despite the feeling that Rodriguez’s job may be on the line, there are still many supporters of the program.
“Since he’s a Bo guy, he’s not going to put up with losing much longer,” Dolan said. “Either Rich wins this year, or we’ll never see what comes to fruition like so many of us want.”
Over the years, the athletic department has created an unprecedented separation regarding the football program. Former players and coaches have spoken out publicly against Rodriguez.
For instance, former Michigan standout Braylon Edwards introduced himself as a player from “Lloyd Carr’s University of Michigan,” on national television, Jan. 3.
The separation has created problems throughout the athletic department, and it appears Brandon is very aware of this and wants to make a change.
“Factions and divisiveness are enemies of success…it’s something that needs immediate attention,” Brandon said. “It needs to be fixed. And truthfully, it won’t be tolerated.”
Brandon appears to be entering the Michigan football family (again) in the right manner. He’s going to take a good look at the situation before making changes, get a feel for all the players and coaches, and potentially market the program successfully.
Brandon’s business background is what seems to be exciting fans the most. As CEO of Domino’s Pizza, Brandon was in charge of running a huge national restaurant chain. He is also a staunch political conservative and among the leading Republican candidates for Michigan governor.
Meantime, while Brandon makes the transition from pizza to college athletics, his predecessor, Bill Martin, will continue serving in an “adviser” role.
Michigan Wolverines Football
Michigan saw a wide variety of football in the 2000’s, from coach Lloyd Carr’s 11-0 start in 2006, to Rich Rodriguez’s first year at 3-9 and missing a bowl game. Either way, there was plenty of talent on the field in Michigan Stadium, with many of these Wolverines playing on Sundays now.
Quarterback, Chad Henne (2004-2007)
The four-year starter re-wrote the record book for Michigan passing stats. As a freshman, he led Michigan to a Rose Bowl appearance.
Chris Perry (2000-2003)
Perry was a big part in both of Michigan victories against Ohio State this decade. During his senior year he won the Big Ten MVP.
Mike Hart (2004-2007)
Like Henne, he started throughout his career and made his own record books for Michigan rushing
Braylon Edwards (2001-2004)
A big, strong and fast receiver with all the intangibles for a great playmaker. He has the most receptions, yards and touchdowns in Ann Arbor.
Marquise Walker (2000-2001)
Although his career started in 1998, he left his stamp at Michigan at the turn of the century.
Bennie Joppru (2000-2002)
In 2002, Joppru was named an Associated Press All-America for his 53 receptions and five touchdowns.
Left tackle: Jake Long (2003-2007)
The two-time, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and All-America, Backus Award winner was selected first overall in the 2008 NFL draft.
Guard: Steve Hutchinson (2000)
In his one season Hutchinson played this decade, he didn’t allow a sack and was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Right tackle: Adam Stenavich (2002-2005)
Two-time All-America, Stenavich will sadly be most remembered for being arrested and not starting the 2005 Rose Bowl.
Guard: Matt Lentz (2002-2005)
First Team All- Big Ten in his junior season and Second Team as a senior.
Center: David Baas (2001-2004)
Baas played center and was awarded All- Big Ten honors and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2004.
Gabe Watson (2002-2005)
Twice named All-Big Ten, he finished his career at Michigan with 94 tackles, 14.5 for loss and five sacks playing tackle.
Alan Branch (2004-2006)
Branch came up big on the biggest of stages in 2006 when he caught his first career interception for No. 2 Michigan against No. 1 Ohio State.
Lamar Woodley (2003-2006)
He was the anchor to the amazing 2005 defensive front that led Michigan to two Rose Bowls.
Brandon Graham (2005-2009)
The heart and soul of this season’s defense. In the year’s biggest win, Graham wrapped up 3.5 sacks against Notre Dame.
Larry Foote (2000-2001)
Enjoyed one of the best years of any Michigan linebacker. In one game against Iowa, he collected three sacks and a record seven tackles for loss.
Shawn Crable (2004-2007)
A two-time Second Team All-Big Ten player who anchored a strong defense in 2006 that started the season 11-0.
David Harris (2003-2006)
In his last two seasons playing in Michigan Stadium, he led the team in tackles and won the award for Michigan’s best linebacker in both seasons.
Corner: Marlin Jackson (2001-2004)
One of the best shut-down defenders at corner this decade, he made big plays, including two touchdown returns in his career.
Leon Hall (2003-2006)
He picked off more passes than any other player this decade at Michigan with 12 and broke up the most passes ever at Michigan, 43.
Ernest Shazor (2002-2004)
He led the team in tackles his senior year and intercepted two passes to become a finalist in the Jim Thorpe Award.
Jamar Adams (2004-2007)
His most productive season as in 2007, when he led the team in tackles, interceptions and pass break ups.
Stevie Breaston (2003-2006)
Owns the school record of five returns for touchdowns. He also ran for an unbelievable 3,592 return yards in his career at Michigan. That’s more than two miles, folks.
Garret Rivas (2003-2006)
Michigan’s all-time leading scorer, he connected for 64 field goals at a 78-percent rate.
Zoltan Mesko (2006-2009)
A finalist for the Ray Guy Award (nation’s top punter), and a two-time All-Big Ten punter.
Paterno and Lions get first win in ‘Big House’ since ’96
ANN ARBOR – Penn State celebrated at the Michigan Stadium for the first since 1996 after a 35-10 rout over Michigan – to the delight of thousands who traveled from Happy Valley made their way to the South end zone of the Big House to celebrate with the Nittany Lions’ players and band.
Penn State senior quarterback Daryll Clark ran up and down the end zone high-fiving the Penn State faithful that made the drive up and cheered through the rain and wind.
“Always a good feeling to come in and beat Michigan,” said PSU running back Evan Royster who was enjoying his first win in Ann Arbor.
The Nittany Lions took advantage of coverage breakdowns throughout the day to exploit the Michigan defense for 230 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air.
“They’re a man-coverage team this year, so they’re mostly in man (defense),” said Clark. “A couple of plays they had trouble lining up.”
Three of Clark’s four touchdown passes came in obvious man-coverage breakdowns. Graham Zug had three touchdown catches, two of which in man coverage. On both scores, he beat Michigan senior safety Stevie Brown one-on-one with an out route in the end zone.
On his second touchdown pass of the day, Clark exposed Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh. Clark hit tight end Andrew Quarless who ran past Ezeh for a 60-yard touchdown. Quarless has a tattoo on each of his arms, “GODS” on his left and “GIFT” on the right. He was thankful after the game.
“I want to thank God,” said Quarless. “It was amazing, just a wonderful feeling. Perfect pass.”
“We had one-on-one coverage with Quarless and a linebacker so we felt we could use that,” said quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno. “We didn’t know he would take it 60 yards, but we thought he’d get a good chunk of yards.”
Michigan’s offense didn’t have nearly the same success though. After scoring on its first possession, Michigan couldn’t get anything consistently going the rest of the game.
“It was a lack of execution,” said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez. “We obviously did not play well in any phase.”
Michigan’s four turnovers didn’t help the offense. Quarterback Denard Robinson was given two possessions – and he turned the ball over twice, fumbling and throwing an interception.
Fellow freshman Tate Forcier threw an interception of his own in the fourth quarter.
“We had some turnovers that killed us,” said Rodriguez.
In the second half, Michigan was shut out, unable to fight back after only being down 19-10 at halftime.
Clark tied his career-high with four touchdown passes, throwing for 230 yards without turning the ball over.
“Daryll has played in terrible weather and put up great numbers,” said Jay Paterno. “He needs to start getting national attention when people talk about Heisman.”
Zug also had a career day with three touchdown catches with 59 yards.
“He’s a very steady football player and a smart kid,” said head coach Joe Paterno. “He came on as a walk-on, and he’s got really good hands. He’s a good player.”
Michigan has now lost three straight Big Ten games and needs one more win to become bowl eligible with four games remaining.
School yardage record allows everyone to get playing time
ANN ARBOR – Kickoff between Michigan and Delaware State was at noon in Michigan Stadium, by 12:30 the game was all but over as Michigan held a 21-0 lead. By the end of the game Michigan had put up 727 yards, highest total in school history, en route to a 63-6.
Michigan did it all in the first half with mostly the second team playing. The Wolverines tallied 442 yards before halftime, the most first half yards in Michigan history. Three different quarterbacks threw for at least 30 yards in the first half. Four different rushers collected more than 50 yards on the ground.
Freshman running back Vincent Smith picked up 166 of the yards rushing in his coming-out party against the Hornets.
“It was pretty much easy,” Smith said about his first collegiate action. “Just running the ball, having fun.”
“He’s elusive, hard to tackle,” said freshman quarterback Denard Robinson about his fellow freshman Smith. “I love to watch him run.”
Robinson wasn’t too shabby himself, accounting for three touchdowns on the day. He threw his first touchdown of his career to sophomore slot receiver Kelvin Grady on a 38-yard connection in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Robinson rushed and passed for touchdowns. He finished with 54 rushing yards and 85 passing.
“We got to see Denard throw a little bit,” said Coach Rich Rodriguez.
Five players scored their first touchdowns as Wolverines. Smith and Michael Cox scored a rushing touchdown while Martell Webb and Kelvin Grady’s first touchdowns came on receptions.
“We tried to get everyone out there,” said Rodriguez. “It was as pleasing as anything getting those fourth- and fifth-year year guys in there.”
Kelvin Grady and Kevin Grady, brothers from Grand Rapids, both collected touchdowns for Michigan.
“It’s a blessing,” said younger brother Kelvin Grady. “I’ve been dying to get a touchdown. Definitely a dream come true.”
Sophomore Nick Sheridan also had a big opportunity to make some throws in the blowout. He completed 7-of-9 passes for 88 yards in his first major playing time since last season.
“He’s like a coach out there,” said Rodriguez. “He’s earned the right to play a little bit.”
Senior Brandon Graham’s first touchdown in his four year career at Michigan was done the unconventional way. Brandon Smith blocked a punt in the first quarter and Graham picked it up and took it to the pay dirt.
“Felt good,” said Graham. “I haven’t scored a touchdown since my junior year in high school.”
“We played probably our best game all around,” said running back Kevin Grady.
Michigan now turns its focus on Penn State, which comes into town next week.
“Guys were saying in the tunnel ‘Lets not loose focus, we got Penn St. next week, let’s go,’” said Graham.
Michigan wakes up late, wins homecoming game 36-33
ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan football team showed it’s youth and poise Saturday afternoon against Indiana University. The 23-rd-ranked Wolverines squeaked out a 36-33 victory in front of 108,118 at Michigan Stadium.
Tate Forcier made some mistakes during the game, but everyone forgot about it after his game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Martavious Odoms.
“The play was drawn up perfectly,” said Odoms. “We checked to a different play to get me one-on-one.”
Forcier threw it with what he says was a bruised right shoulder. He left the game earlier favoring his shoulder and came back in it as Michigan was down 33-29.
“Tate wasn’t sharp all the time,” said Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez. “But he made some plays at the end.”
The Michigan defense was exposed by the Hoosier offense for 467 total yards.
Indiana’s first drive went 80-yards with a rushing and passing balance, to go ahead 7-0. Sophomore receiver Tandon Doss took an option-left 25 yards to give Indiana the lead.
Carlos Brown came back to put up two quick touchdowns to put Michigan ahead 14-7. He caught a screen pass and ran 61 yards for his first score. And on the next Michigan possession, he took a carry 41 yards along the sideline for another touchdown.
Doss finished the day with 104 receiving yards, 41 rushing and a touchdown. Freshman running back Darius Willis also had big day. Willis more than doubled his career high with 152 yards and two touchdowns.
“He made some nice runs,” said Indiana Coach Bill Lynch. “The long one certainly showed his ability to break the big one.”
Senior quarterback Ben Chappell completed 21 passes for 270 yards. He kept the Michigan defensive backs on their heels until junior cornerback Donavon Warren put the nail in the Hoosier coffin.
With 2:29 left in the game, Indiana had a great opportunity to tie the game down by three. On the Hoosiers first play of their drive, Warren ripped the ball from sophomore receiver Damario Belcher as they fell to the ground to ensure a Wolverine victory.
Lynch showed his frustration after call by chucking his gum out of his mouth to yell louder at the referee. He felt the possession should have gone to the receiver.
“It looked like they both had it,” said Lynch. “That’s as far as I’ll go.”
Forcier threw 184 yards and two touchdowns, but threw an interception and was sacked twice. Michigan quarterbacks struggled to hold on the football all afternoon. Forcier mishandled two snaps in shotgun. Freshman quarterback Denard Robinson couldn’t handle the ball any better. He lost a fumble and mishandled two other snaps from shotgun.
Next week, Michigan heads to East Lansing to face in-state rival Michigan State Spartans.
“We know we can play a lot better,” said Rodriguez. “And we have to next week.”