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ANN ARBOR - Tate Forcier doesn't see much of a difference between playing Eastern Michigan in September and Penn State in October.
But the stat sheet is at odds with Forcier's belief that his recent struggles aren't a function of facing better defenses.
In UM's four Big Ten games, including yesterday's 35-10 home loss to Penn State, Forcier has completed just 49 of 102 passes (48 percent) for 641 yards. His four interceptions - one in every game - equal his four touchdown passes, none of which came in the last two league games against Iowa and Penn State.
Forcier was 13-of-30 for 140 yards yesterday and threw a meaningless interception at PSU's 3 to essentially end the game.
"I think we're beating ourselves," Forcier said. "There are reads I'm not making that we need to be making."
Forcier looked much more impressive against UM's four non-conference opponents, completing 45 of 68 passes for 526 yards. He had five touchdowns and just one interception. Forcier, however, doesn't wish to use his freshman status as a crutch.
"I want to play the way I'm capable of playing," Forcier said. "I want people to expect me to play the way I played in the first part of the season."
Coach Rich Rodriguez says fans need to be patient with Forcier and understand his college career is a mere eight games old.
"We should not expect too much too soon," Rodriguez said. "I think sometimes you have a little success and people say your freshman year is over. It's not over."
CARR SPEAKS: Recently criticized by some for not showing support for Rodriguez over the last two years, former UM coach Lloyd Carr cleared the air when interviewed yesterday by the Michigan radio broadcast team, saying he "absolutely" supports Rodriguez.
"I've had a lot of conversations with Rich Rodriguez in the last 18-20 months and told him from the beginning if he needed me for any reason just call me and I'm happy to do so," said Carr, who works in the athletic department. "I didn't want to be a coach who's at practice hanging around and answering questions from the media. I didn't think it was good for our program."
IN THEN OUT: David Molk started for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot against Indiana and then left the game during UM's first possession with an apparent knee injury. Molk came back only to succumb once again to the pain.
"Do I really have to spell that out for you?" Molk responded to a question about his level of frustration due to the injuries.
Molk said the knee injury "is not bad" but would not say whether he'll play Saturday at Illinois.
David Moosman filled in for Molk and had a rough day, snapping a ball through the back of the end zone when Forcier wasn't looking, resulting in a safety. Moosman and Forcier also botched a snap as UM was moving down the field on its final drive of the first half. Forcier covered the ball and because UM was without a timeout had to spike the ball on third down. Jason Olesnavage's 23-yard field goal made the score 19-10 at halftime.
The Wolverines may have been able to run another play had they not burned a timeout earlier when 12 men were on the field for a PSU field goal attempt.
SHORT YARDS: Donovan Warren inadvertently crashed into Junior Hemingway's right knee as Hemingway fielded a punt. Hemingway needed assistance walking off the field and did not return. … Boubacar Cissoko returned from a two-game suspension and played regularly at cornerback, pushing Troy Woolfolk back to safety and Mike Williams to the bench. … Brandon Graham had 3.5 tackles for loss upping his season total to 15.5. … UM's Zoltan Mesko bested PSU's Jeremy Boone in a battle of the Big Ten's top two punters. Mekso punted seven times for a 44.9-yard average. Boone, who ranked atop the league entering the game, averaged 35.8 yards on six punts.42.28188 -83.74848