Welcome to 2009!

Michigan opened the 2009 football season hosting the Western Michigan Broncos Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium. After struggling through much of the 2008 season, the Maize and Blue erased all thoughts of a repeat performance with a 31-7 win. Tate Forcier threw three touchdown passes and Denard Robinson added one on the ground.

ANN ARBOR -- Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson stole the show in their first games at Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Forcier completed 8-of-13 passes in the first half, including three touchdowns, and Robinson broke free from 43-yards out to pace Michigan to a 31-0 halftime lead over the Western Michigan Broncos. Over the final 30 minutes Michigan cruised to a 31-7 win.

"Both of them made some very good decisions," Rich Rodriguez said of his freshmen quarterbacks following the game, "and there are other times when we can coach them up and they can get better. We put a lot of pressure on them in practice to make those same decisions. They've executed very well in practice so you hope it carries over to the game, but what you don't know is with 100,000-plus fans and national TV, how many jitters you're going to have, especially in your first game."

As announced Thursday, Forcier started the game under center for the Wolverines, and it didn't take him long to guide Michigan into the endzone for the first time. A short Western Michigan punt gave Michigan prime field position, the first drive starting on Western Michigan's 47-yardline. Seven plays later Forcier broke left side containment and found Junior Hemingway streaking down the sideline for a touchdown.

"I saw the coverage. I saw Junior had one and one, and I was getting pressure so I just stepped up and let Junior make a play.

"It got us a great start with the momentum and everything. The crowd helped us as always. Thta start was scripted, they told me what the first plays were going to be, I just went out there and got the athletes the ball. I let the athletes be athletes."

As the clocked started ticking down on the first quarter Michigan made it 14-0 with Robinson's long touchdown run. Boubacar Cissoko intercepted a Tim Hiller pass and carried it back into Bronco territory late in the stanza, then Robinson picked up a fumbled snap and found a seam around the right side for a 43-yard score.

On Michigan's first possession of the second quarter Forcier tossed his second touchdown pass of the game, this time finding tight end Kevin Koger. Robinson started the drive carrying the ball into Western Michigan territory, and running back Carlos Brown converted a key 4th-and-1 run over left guard. Michigan moved it to the 7-yardline before Tate found Koger for the score.

Michigan added a field goal on its next possession, then Forcier found Hemingway for the second time, this one on a 44-yard bomb down the right sideline to give Michigan its 31-0 lead.

Defensively Michigan was just as dominant. The Wolverines held the Broncos to just 79 yards of offense in the first half, including -2 on the ground.

"I thought the first half we were phenomenal," Rodriguez said. "I don't know what Western (Michigan) had in total offense, but our defense had a whole bunch of three and outs. We got pressure on the ball and tackled well. In the second half, we didn't do that so much. We will watch film and develop more depth."

Western Michigan added a touchdown halfway through the final quarter to break the shutout, but the Wolverines cruised to a 31-7 victory.

Forcier finished 13-of-20 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Denard Robinson completed 2-of-4 for 18 yards, plus led Michigan with 74 yards rushing. Carlos Brown finished with 10 carries for 54 yards; and Junior Hemingway hauled in five passes for 103 yards and a pair of scores.

Next weekend the Wolverines and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish renew their rivalry, a 3:30 p.m. kick-off in Michigan Stadium.

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