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Published: 8/26/2010

UM coach would like chance to scrimmage

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR - Many have offered their opinion on what kind of football team University of Michigan will have this year, but even the head coach isn't so sure.

Under a different set of rules, ones he is clamoring to get into effect, Rich Rodriguez might have a better idea of what to expect out of his Wolverines Sept. 4 in their season opener against Connecticut.

Unlike lower tier divisions of college football, as well as the NFL, Division I teams are not permitted to play a preseason exhibition or even participate in a practice against another program. Rodriguez doesn't understand the logic.

"If I could have one rule that I think coaches would love to have, it's to let us have an exhibition game, or at least a practice against another opponent a couple of weeks before the opener to kind of gauge where we're at," Rodriguez said Wednesday.

A board member of the American Football Coaches Association, Rodriguez said the topic has been discussed at its meetings. He views some intrateam interaction as not only a benefit to the coaches but also as a means for athletic departments to generate revenue by making the events open to the public.

Scrimmages between two teams are permissible in high school and in lower divisions of college ball. NFL teams travel to other teams' camps during camp for scrimmages in addition to their four scheduled exhibition games.

This isn't the first time Rodriguez has griped about an NCAA rule to the media. Last year he suggested the implementation of a regulation that would force all Division I coaches to release a weekly injury report similar to what is done in the NFL. Rodriguez took the lead and released a report to media members each Thursday during the season. It was his choice. Unfortunately for him, he has no choice when it comes to preseason contact with other teams.

"Particularly when you have an opening game against a very good opponent," Rodriguez said. "Unless you take a few series against somebody else, you may not realize, that hey, we're stronger here than we are here."

WAITING GAME: Rodriguez said he will not publicly name a starting quarterback prior to the Connecticut game. In fact, the three individuals competing for the job may not be notified of who is starting until the evening before.

Rodriguez said a couple of weeks ago that he intended to give at least one of his quarterbacks the bulk of repetitions --- 60 percent --- by this time in camp. It hasn't happened, he said, because the competition between Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner is too close.

"I wasn't able to," he said. "Every day I'm wondering who's going to separate themselves. That has been an ongoing process. With three guys this is a unique situation."

Not too unique. Last year Forcier and Robinson were involved in a battle along with Nick Sheridan. Forcier ultimately won the job, Robinson backed him up, and Sheridan faded away.

"Last year there were three in a way, but not as close as these three are on certain days and in certain situations," Rodriguez said.

WOOLFOLK SURGERY: Rodriguez said cornerback Troy Woolfolk underwent surgery Tuesday on his leg and that doctors expect him to be fully healed by this time next year. Woolfolk is done for the season after injury himself in practice earlier this month and will sit out as a redshirt.

SHORT YARDS: Rodriguez said freshman running back Fitzgerald Toussaint did not practice Wednesday because of injuries to his neck and knee. He should be back by the end of the week. … Senior middle linebacker Mark Moundros, a fullback prior to this year, "may be the starter," according to Rodriguez.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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