IOWA CITY - A repeated track record of delivering in pivotal moments has earned Tate Forcier pronounced praise early in his college career. Apparently, though, it has not earned him the complete trust of his coach.
With Michigan in desperation mode Saturday, Forcier was summoned to the bench in favor of raw freshman Denard Robinson, who had yet to play in the game and whose resume includes little experience in pressure environments.
The switch began auspiciously but ended with Robinson throwing an ugly interception to dump the final clump of dirt on the Wolverines in a 30-28 loss at No. 12 Iowa.
Robinson's first drive - which began with 7:42 left and UM trailing 30-21 - was perhaps his most complete drive of the season, as he led the Wolverines on an 11 play, 59-yard drive that ended with him crossing the end zone from three yards out.
But it surprised some that Robinson was again in the game to start a drive at UM's 17 with 1:30 to go, considering Forcier - just 8 of 19 for 94 yards in the game - has been remarkable when his team leans on him the most.
Robinson threw a nine-yard pass to Martavious Odoms, and then ran seven yards for a first down. Then Robinson made a critical mistake, throwing deep to a vicinity not occupied by any of his teammates. Brett Greenwood picked off an easy one to seal the win.
"He missed part of the signal and things were hurrying a little bit," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He competed and we'll learn from it."
Forcier's fourth-quarter success has been well documented. At times he seemed possessed in leading UM to a late win over Notre Dame, and against Indiana he shrugged off a sub-par day to run and pass for scores in another comeback win. It was a similar tale last week at Michigan State when Forcier led UM from down 20-6 to send the game to overtime.
In his postgame news conference, Rodriguez quickly grew irritated fielding repeated questions about his decision to go with Robinson. It was the second game in a row
Rodriguez faced criticism for inserting Robinson at an odd moment.
"We put Denard in there, we had a little plan for him, and he gave us a spark,"
Rodriguez said. "End of story. Let's not create something that's not there. I've got two outstanding quarterbacks - three quarterbacks. That's not the story of the game."
CISSOKO SUSPENDED: Rodriguez said after the game that former starting cornerback Boubacar Cissoko has been suspended for a violation of team rules and did not travel to Iowa.
"He's got certain things he has to do on and off the field, academically and all that," Rodriguez said. "If he does them he'll be back sooner than later."
Cissoko started the first four games and was replaced by J.T. Floyd against Indiana after getting beat on a deep pass. Floyd did not start last night as Troy Woolfolk moved from safety to fill the corner spot opposite Donovan Warren. Woolfolk had four tackles.
GOLDEN GRAHAM: After being held without a sack in the first four games, Brandon Graham has three after recording two against Iowa. Graham added 3.5 tackles for loss, upping his season total to 10.
"I just had to keep pushing," he said. "I know [opposing offenses] are going to aim for me. That just opens up doors for the other defensive linemen."
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