Michigan Wolverines, Tate Forcier Ready for Big Ten Play
After winning only three games in the whole 2008 season, the Michigan Wolverines have matched that total three games into this year's campaign.
The Maize and Blue resurgence so far has stemmed from answers to some of the questions that were posed of the team at the beginning of the season, as well as freshmen who have stepped up and become leaders on the team in their first year.
However, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Tate Forcier was the much hyped weapon of choice in the spring game who showed flashes of brilliance in front of a half full Michigan Stadium in April.
However, with the problems surrounding the program going into the season there was a lot of uncertainty about how Forcier and the Wolverines would handle the pressure of having to win games for their coach.
After a stellar performance against Western Michigan, he stepped on the field with 2:19 left in the game against Notre Dame and a three-point deficit at his own 43-yard-line and turned it into a four-point victory. His confidence and demeanor flows through the team and it has the team believing in themselves.
Stevie Brown, a much maligned free safety, was going into his senior season with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of questions concerning whether he could handle his new position as the spinner/linebacker.
So far, he has been one of the Wolverines' most prolific tacklers and has picked up a knack for the position with his speed that allows him to chase the ball on every play.
Aside from the quarterbacks, no other unit received more criticism for last year's poor outcome than the offensive line. So far this year, they have been able to open up gaping holes in opposing defenses for the Wolverines to run Rich Rodriguez's famed zone reads and traps, and it has resulted in an average of 271 rushing yards through the first three games.
With the improved depth at running back the Wolverines have been able to run the ball effectively, proving that they will be able to put points up throughout the season.
This team may prove to have one of the hardest offenses to stop, but they are also very young and there are still some questions regarding them and the defense.
The Michigan defense gave up 34 points to Notre Dame and 17 points to a terrible Eastern Michigan squad last week.
While, in the latter game, they gave up all the points in the first half, it is still a troubling idea that Michigan could give up 17 points to them. Brandon Graham, Stevie Brown, and Donovan Warren are all stalwarts with experience behind them and leadership, but the rest of the defense is young and raw, especially the secondary.
This was especially apparent during the Notre Dame game when the Irish gained 490 yards, most of them through the air on deep passes. While Michael Floyd and Golden Tate may have been one of the most prolific receiving duos in college football, they also showed that there are weaknesses in the Michigan secondary.
Sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko was trying to cover Michael Floyd for most of the game while playing hurt and was unable to execute the bump and run that he would normally. If he cannot get healthy, it may pose problems for the Wolverines secondary.
This team has a highly explosive offense that may offset those problems for this season and one of the telling points on whether that is going to happen is Denard Robinson. Prior to the season, there were rumors of him being a quarterback with Hermesian speed and a cannon arm.
While the rumors of his speed have been found to be true, his strong arm seems to be lacking in fundamentals.
This stems from his inexperience with the spread offense and the fact that he played in a Wing-T offense in high school that emphasized option running and deep outside passing when necessary.
It's clear that unlike Forcier, who played on a spread team in high school and enrolled early, Robinson may have some catching up to do. If he can acquire skills as a passer, he may become one of the biggest weapons the Big Ten has ever seen and the Michigan offense may go from high powered to unstoppable.
However, that is still working itself out.
The biggest unanswered question might be, now that Rich Rodriguez clearly has the right players to run his spread option offense, how will it fare in the cold Midwestern weather in October and November.
While at West Virginia, Rodriguez was one of the first coaches to establish a powerful run heavy spread at a school that was not in ideal conditions. The mountain weather would prove challenging for the Mountaineers, but most of the time they prevailed.
Time will tell if it will be the same for the Wolverines this season because they haven't played a game in which the temperature was less than 60 degrees so far.
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