Michigan Wolverines: Tate Forcier

Big Ten Tuesday mailblog

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
5:00
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Questions, answers and Twitter. What could possibly be better on a Tuesday in June?

Let's begin ...

Virgel from Valdosta, Ga., writes: Adam, do you think that if this season ends the Tim Beckman era at Illinois, they would go after a high-profile coach on the bench right now, like a Mack Brown? Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Interesting thought, Virgel, as it's hard to know where athletic director Mike Thomas would turn. He has a track record of hiring MAC coaches -- Butch Jones, Brian Kelly, Beckman -- but I'd be shocked if he went that route again. Brown will be 62 in August, has a ton of money and likely a lengthy TV career ahead, so I'm not sure how much he would want to coach again. And if he did, for how long?

Illinois doesn't want to keep changing coaches. But thinking outside the box could be a good approach. Or Thomas could hire a guy like Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who is ready to lead a major-conference program.




Kyle from Hamilton, Ontario, writes: We all have heard how "weak" Iowa's schedule is. It has even been rumoured that they could be favoured in every game. Given the fact they don't play Ohio State, a scenario exists that they both could go undefeated. That could have happened in 2002 if Iowa didn't blow the lead against Iowa State that year. My question is this: If both Ohio State and Iowa go undefeated do both teams make the playoffs?

Adam Rittenberg: Man, I love that Canadian spelling. This would be a fascinating scenario, Kyle. A lot depends on what happens in other conferences and how the Big Ten performs in marquee nonleague games. But I don't think Iowa makes the playoff with a loss in the league championship game, primarily because of the seemingly soft regular-season schedule.

In this scenario, Ohio State would have a road win against a preseason top-10 team in Michigan State. The Buckeyes also play Virginia Tech in nonleague play. Will the Michigan home win help or hurt Ohio State? How much credit will Iowa get for beating Wisconsin and Nebraska at home? All these questions factor into the playoff decision. Ultimately, I doubt the Big Ten gets two teams into the initial playoff. Fairly or unfairly, the league will pay for its recent shortcomings. But Ohio State has a better chance as a one-loss team than Iowa.




Dave from Marietta, Ohio, writes: The Big Ten should've gone to North-South divisions instead of East-West. I'm not sure about the exact locations of the schools, but a North-South alignment could look something like this ... North -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa. South -- Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska.

Adam Rittenberg: Interesting idea, Dave, as this proposal appears to create more historical balance than the current East-West alignment. But if you look at the Big Ten's recent expansion, the idea is to live in a second region along the East Coast. It's not a northern expansion but an eastern one. Another factor to consider is geography. Nebraska would be a major outlier in the South division -- nearly an eight-hour drive from its closest division competitor (Illinois) and a loooong way from Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers. Would Husker fans care? Maybe, maybe not. They would get annual games with both Penn State and Ohio State.

I like how your proposal satisfies the Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry triangle/dilemma, but it also would require at least one extra protected crossover, Ohio State-Michigan, which would reduce the overall schedule rotation for two of the league's marquee programs. I definitely see value in the North-South model, but East-West is here, at least for now.




[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
AP Photo/Paul VernonOhio State's Braxton Miller is one of just two early enrollees to be Big Ten Freshman of the Year in the last seven years.
Dave from Columbus, Ohio, writes: I wondered if you've seen any data comparing early enrollees and players who enroll in the fall. Do early enrollees start sooner, play in more games, have better drafts or have better graduation rates than players who enroll in the summer/fall? My thought is if the player works hard enough to graduate high school early, maybe there's a bit of a better work ethic.

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, David, and there's not a great answer yet as this trend remains somewhat new. The number of early enrollees really spiked in the 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes. Not surprisingly, there is some evidence that early enrollees are contributing faster in their careers than those who arrive in the summer. We've seen examples in the Big Ten such as Wisconsin cornerback Sojourn Shelton, who earned a starting job as a true freshman. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller enrolled early and has started since the middle of his freshman season.

Then again, a 2009 ranking of top early enrollee groups Insider showed more misses (Tate Forcier, Kevin Newsome, Will Campbell) than hits (Gerald Hodges) in the Big Ten. Penn State had seven early enrollees in 2010 but only one, running back Silas Redd, became a star for the Lions.

Of the Big Ten's last seven Freshman of the Year recipients, just two -- Ohio State's Miller and Illinois' Arrelious Benn -- were early enrollees. So it's hard to draw clear conclusions.




Peter from Boston writes: Would be interested to hear your thoughts on a recent article by John U. Bacon about attendance issues at Michigan (Ivan Maisel referenced it in his latest 3-Point Stance). Personally, I think you could insert any major program in the country (including my alma mater Penn State) and write roughly the same article. ADs constantly point the finger at high-definition TV and other tech as the reason for slipping attendance, and it's definitely a factor, but Bacon makes some very good points about the in-game experience and costs of attending a game at a major university. What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: There are some very valid points in Bacon's story, especially about rising ticket prices. As Ohio State AD Gene Smith recently told me, "The reality is a lot of our ticket pricing, some of us are at the top of the pyramid." And it seems like the branding push, especially in the Big Ten, is turning off some fans. Has the sport sold its soul in some ways? No doubt. Is branding too much of a priority in the Big Ten, which makes a lot of money but doesn't really win anything? There's a case to be made. ADs are devoting a lot of energy to improving the gameday experience, but two solutions are pretty simple: scheduling better opponents and charging less for tickets.
The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry dates back to 1887 when the Wolverines instructed the Irish in the rules and ways of the game. Today, it’s still one of the most well-known and respected matchups in the country. But on Saturday, the two teams will meet for the last time (for the foreseeable future) in Michigan Stadium. To commemorate this event, we’ve counted down the top five games in the rivalry’s history in the Big House.

5. 2009 | Michigan 38, No. 18 Notre Dame 34

Enter Tate Forcier. His career at Michigan was short-lived, but as a freshman he led one of the greatest come-from-behind drives against Notre Dame in Michigan Stadium. With Notre Dame forced to punt, Forcier and the Wolverines got the ball back with 2:13 left in the game, down three. The freshman led Michigan down the field and capped the drive with a 5-yard TD pass with 11 seconds left in the game. The ensuing PAT sealed the victory for Michigan.

4. 1981 | No. 11 Michigan 25, No. 1 Notre Dame 7

The Wolverines had started the season No. 1 in the country, but Wisconsin wiped the floor with them. With Notre Dame’s season-opening win over LSU, the Irish came into the Big House ranked No. 1 in the nation, while the Wolverines had dropped to No. 11. But behind clutch defensive performances, which held the Irish without a second- or third-quarter first down, Michigan rolled.

3. 2011 | Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31

If we were counting down the top moments of the rivalry, this would arguably be No. 1. And there are 114,804 people to testify to that. However, as far as the game as a whole, this one was basically a snoozer until the final moments. Everyone remembers Roy Roundtree’s game-winning catch from Denard Robinson with two seconds left. Or they remember the catch, one play earlier, by Jeremy Gallon. Those kinds of memories erase the fact that the Wolverines went into the fourth quarter down 24-7. But that final quarter -- with all the emotion and anticipating -- gets the 2011 game on the top-five list.

2. 1989 | No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19

Bo Schembechler's final game in this series was not a memorable one for the Wolverines, who saw Raghib Ismail return two kickoffs for touchdowns. It was the defending national champions, the No. 1-ranked Irish against No. 2 Michigan, with Irish quarterback Tony Rice attempting just two passes in the wet conditions. The Wolverines saw a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped, and the Irish became the first team to beat Schembechler three straight times.

1. 1991 | No. 2 Michigan 24, Notre Dame 14

Up three early in the fourth quarter, Desmond Howard made the first of many memorable plays in what would become a Heisman Trophy-winning season. Howard caught a 25-yard pass from Elvis Grbac on fourth-and-1, a signature moment in this rivalry's history, known to Wolverine fans simply as “The Catch.” Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak to Notre Dame.
As Michigan’s preseason approaches at the end of this week, WolverineNation takes a look at the 10 players who are most indispensable for the Wolverines this season. This doesn’t mean the most talented players, but rather the players, if Michigan lost them, would be in the most trouble.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When Devin Gardner was a freshman and a sophomore, he would often look for wide receivers to practice with him so he could keep sharp as he had to wait behind Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson for a chance to play.

Getting receivers to work with the backup wasn’t always easy, but one player would show up more than most, would help out more than most. So to understand why Gardner and Jeremy Gallon appear so comfortable with each other on the field is not happenstance.

Fresh ideas: Quarterback 

May, 30, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Can a true freshman really contribute at the college level? Is it easier at one position than another? Over the next two months WolverineNation will be breaking down the probabilities of playing time and projections of the Wolverines’ freshmen, position-by-position.

What it takes for a true freshman QB to play: Even if a true freshman quarterback enrolls early and is physically and mentally ready for the speed of the game at the college level, several other chips need to fall into place in order to get that player on the field. First, the freshman needs to beat out the players in front of him, or the players in front of him need to struggle/get injured. Second, the coach has to have a heck of a lot of trust in that player. Stepping on the field in front of 110,000 screaming fans requires a large amount of confidence, not only from the quarterback himself, but also his coach.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s 2008 and 2009 classes saw a massive amount of shift during their time in Ann Arbor, from the coaching staff to the members of their team.

Here’s a quick look at the 20 players from those classes who did not finish their eligibility with Michigan and, in many cases, where they ended up.

[+] EnlargeDarryl Stonum
Andrew Weber/US PresswireDarryl Stonum was dismissed from the U-M football team in 2011.
Class of 2008:

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