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Published: Sunday, 11/15/2009

UM notebook: Forcier-Rodriguez bond OK

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tate Forcier attempts to get by Wisconsin's Blake Sorenson (9) as J.J. Watt closes in on the Wolverines' quarterback. Tate Forcier attempts to get by Wisconsin's Blake Sorenson (9) as J.J. Watt closes in on the Wolverines' quarterback.
MORRY GASH / AP Enlarge

MADISON, Wis. - Tate Forcier said the bonds between him and UM's coaches are "fine."

He admitted there was validity to an Internet rumor of some coolness in his relationship with coach Rich Rodriguez.

Forcier said he was uncomfortable last week about possibly losing his starting job.

That was prompted by the number of first-team reps backup Denard Robinson was receiving in practice.

Forcier said Rodriguez was upset because he missed a mandatory study-table session, which Forcier attributed to a miscommunication between him and Rodriguez.

Forcier expected to be on the bench to begin yesterday's 45-24 loss. Instead, he and Robinson were in the starting lineup, with Forcier at quarterback and Robinson beside him at running back.

On the first play of the game, Robinson rushed for no gain on a handoff from Forcier.

"That was just a little something we've worked on," Rodriguez said. "I thought we had a play, but we didn't block it well."

Wisconsin's John Clay, who rushed for 151 yards on 26 carries, is brought down by Michigan defenders, including Brandon Graham (55) and JordanKovacs (32), a Clay graduate. Wisconsin's John Clay, who rushed for 151 yards on 26 carries, is brought down by Michigan defenders, including Brandon Graham (55) and JordanKovacs (32), a Clay graduate.
MORRY GASH / AP Enlarge

So did Rodriguez ever intend to start Robinson at quarterback?

"I think there's that consideration every week," Rodriguez said. "I've been on Tate pretty hard, but it's not his effort, it's just his concentration on getting better and doing the things he's supposed to do on and off the field. [Being] a typical freshman, he wouldn't admit it, but I think at some point you hit a wall without an open date, academically and athletically."

Forcier admitted he skipped a recent study-table session.

"[Rodriguez] didn't get the message I was making up time," Forcier said. "We kind of had a misunderstanding, but it's all cleared up now."

Forcier played solidly for the second straight game, throwing for 188 yards and two scores on 20 of 26 passing. He was benched on the game's final drive when Robinson went 1 of 4 and ran for 30 yards.

Robinson declined to speak with reporters after the game.

MARTIN SPEAKS: UM athletic director Bill Martin said the Wolverines' poor season concerns him, but "it concerns everybody."

In looking at the positives, Martin, who last week told the Detroit News

Rodriguez's job is safe, noted the team is young and only 71 Wolverines entered the program on scholarship.

"Michigan hasn't experienced this in recent history, we know that, but we haven't had a coaching change since Bo [Schembechler] really to a different system."

GRACIOUS IN DEFEAT: Brandon Graham was in good spirits after the game and did not give his exceptional performance as the reason.

"Because a leader can't have his head down, a leader has to keep pushing," Graham said.

Graham pushed around UW's offensive line all day, compiling two sacks, a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and a game-high 11 tackles, including four for negative yards. He may have had another sack except Scott Tolzien took an intentional grounding penalty instead.

With 21 tackles for loss, Graham overtook UW's O'Brien Schofield for the Big Ten lead. Schofield has 19.5 after adding one against UM.

Graham said he and Schofield speak on the phone frequently, trading advice on Big Ten offensive lines.

"I like his game, and he's a hard worker," Graham said.

THE GAME: Rodriguez said he asked his team after the game for supreme focus this week as they prepare for Saturday's meeting with Ohio State. Graham relayed a similar message.

"We're ready, that's the focus right now," Graham said. "Wisconsin beat us today - congrats to Wisconsin - but O-State, we're coming. We're going to work real hard this week."

SHORT YARDS: Clay graduate Jordan Kovacs intercepted his first career pass in the first quarter. Mike Martin provided the pressure. … Neither Greg Banks (foot) nor Martavious Odoms (knee) played after being listed as probable on Thursday's injury report.



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