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Published: Tuesday, 9/15/2009

Rodriguez says Robinson still a QB for Wolverines

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR — Although it appears a once three-person battle at quarterback has been reduced to one, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has no desire to switch Denard Robinson to receiver or any other position for that matter.

“Denard Robinson's a quarterback, and he's going to play a big role for us at quarterback this year and for several years to come,” a defiant Rodriguez said yesterday at UM's weekly press conference.

Robinson rushed for 21 yards and did not attempt a pass in Saturday's 38-34 win over Notre Dame, giving way to fellow true freshman Tate Forcier, who put on a show in leading the Wolverines to a comeback victory. UM's third option at quarterback, junior Nick Sheridan, did not play.

The 25th-ranked Wolverines host Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

Rodriguez said during the preseason he expected to play all three unless one took a step backward. But with Forcier progressing so quickly, Robinson's role could be rendered to strictly running the ball.

“He's still learning, and Tate had a head start because he got here [in the spring],” Rodriguez said.

Complicating matters for the future is Detroit's Devin Gardner, the No. 1 senior quarterback in the country, according to Rivals.com, has committed to UM.

Rodriguez seems reluctant to pay too much praise to Forcier, who is receiving an overwhelming amount of attention from media — both local and national — as well as the more than 400 friends and family members who have left him phone messages since Saturday.

“Obviously Tate played very well,” Rodriguez said. “He made a lot of mistakes, but he obviously played well enough to take the first snap for us [Saturday].”

SECOND OPINION: Rodriguez responded to ND coach Charlie Weis' criticism of Saturday's officiating crew by saying UM also will ask the Big Ten to review a “handful” of plays.”

Weis is upset that a booth review determined Armando Allen stepped out of bounds, negating a first half touchdown, and he also believes two additional seconds should have been added to the clock before ND's final drive. Weis' criticism of Big Ten officials comes at an awkward time as the Irish play host to Michigan State on Saturday, a game in which Big Ten officials will be used.

“There were a couple [plays] where I thought 100,000 [fans] may have agreed with me, but by and large the officials do a terrific job,” Rodriguez said.

FAMILIAR FACE: First-year EMU coach Ron English, who will lead the Eagles into the Big House Saturday, was an assistant under Lloyd Carr at UM from 2003-07, serving as defensive coordinator his final two years.

English was not retained by Rodriguez and spent last year as Louisville's defensive coordinator.

“He was very intense,” said junior safety Troy Woolfolk. “That was one coach that would scream at you and you would really fear him at the end of the day. He was a good coach, and I really respected him.”

EMU is 0-2 but nearly upset Northwestern on Saturday, falling 27-24.

MOOSMAN OUT: Guard David Moosman suffered a shoulder injury Saturday and could miss one to two weeks, according to Rodriguez. Provided Moosman doesn't heal by game time Saturday, he would be replaced in the starting lineup by Perry Dorrestein, John Ferrara, or Wauseon graduate Elliott Mealer.

Rodriguez will issue an injury report to the media on Thursday.

MUSICAL TASTE: A recent topic of interest amongst UM fans is a newly established trend of music being played during games at the Big House. Rodriguez says song requests — no vulgarity, of course — can be sent to the UM athletic department. Currently, the playlist includes hits from Journey, AC/DC, and Bon Jovi, much to the chagrin of Woolfolk, a hip-hop fan.

“I have a tendency to dance from time-to-time, so regardless what it is, I'm going to dance to it,” Woolfolk said. “I try to block out the words.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:rautullo@theblade.com.



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