Check out any of the local papers today, and you’ll see essentially the same article: Denard Robinson is making a strong push to supplant Tate Forcier as the starting QB. And, to a certain extent, it’s true — Robinson has been getting as many snaps with the first-team offense as Forcier, and Rich Rodriguez always maintains that every position battle is open.
I can’t help but think back to last year, however, and the biggest on-field story heading into the opener against Western Michigan. The coaching staff maintained, right up until kickoff, that three Michigan quarterbacks — Forcier, Robinson, and Nick Sheridan — would all see snaps and get the opportunity to prove themselves as the rightful starter:
“Could be,” Smith said. “That’s something we’re going to have to decide as a staff. I don’t know who’s going to start … or how many will play, but we’re going to have three ready to go. We know that. We’re going to have three ready to play — not ready to play, ready to win with.”
What happened? Well, Tate Forcier, like every fan expected, emerged as the clear starter, with Robinson quickly settling into the role of change-of-pace QB and Sheridan seeing only mop-up duty from that point forward.
This isn’t to say that I don’t think Robinson is a viable candidate to start this season — by all accounts, his understanding of the offense and ability to read defenses has improved mightily, and a quarterback with his athletic ability is very hard to come by. But this is still the guy who was rarely trusted to pass last season, and when he did, the results were rarely pretty: 14-31 with 2 TDs and 4 INTs doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Robinson is the man to lead the Wolverines on offense.
More than anything, this story makes me worry about Tate Forcier. If Robinson really is pushing Tate for the job, is that a greater reflection on Shoelace’s improvement or Forcier’s lack of? Or, if this is all a motivational ploy on the part of the coaching staff, as many have speculated, why do we need to keep taking first-team snaps — and valuable practice experience — away from our top quarterback in order to bring out the best in him?
Or, maybe, this is just another overblown spring story that will be long forgotten come fall. Personally, I hope — and expect — that this is the case. Unless Robinson has progressed a tremendous amount as a passer, I still believe that Forcier is the best option the Wolverines have at quarterback. We’ll see how this story unfolds, but consider me very skeptical of this “battle” until #16 trots out with the first team against UConn in September.