The TSX Files: Michigan Update

The Sports Xchange's Post-UConn report on Michigan -- looking backwards and ahead.

Despite taking fire from a number of directions and having to deal with an unspoken "win or else" kind of ultimatum from the Michigan football community, embattled Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez has not lost his gamesmanship. He can still make a ploy, and play it out to his team's advantage.
-- Throughout fall camp, Rodriguez answered every inquiry about his team's quarterback situation with the same vague, wait-and-see, still-in-intense-competition sort of response. He led everyone, including the Connecticut Huskies, to believe that sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, along with freshman Devin Gardner, were locked in a protracted three-way battle for the starting job.
-- What we learned in Michigan's season-opening 30-10 win over the Huskies is that Robinson is the starter, and has likely been the starter for most of the past month. The Florida native was in charge from start to finish, took every snap when the game mattered, and looked comfortable and in control of the offense.
-- Robinson, making the first start of his college career, rushed for 197 yards, a Michigan record for a quarterback, scored a touchdown and had 186 yards passing, good for another score. He did not play like someone who found out he was starting on the eve of the season opener. "I knew I had to play well, or someone else could take the snaps," Robinson said.
-- Going forward, Robinson is definitely the guy for the Wolverines, barring an injury or some kind of dramatic reversal of fortune. But heading into their showdown with Notre Dame, the Wolverines have lost the element of surprise they had against UConn. They are poring over film in South Bend, Ind., right now, looking for ways to make Robinson's second start a much less productive one.

--The Michigan-UConn game marked the grand re-opening of Michigan Stadium following an extensive upgrading. The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 113,090 which set the all-time attendance record for any football game -- college or NFL. It was the 217th straight game at Michigan Stadium with a crowd of more than 100,000.
--Sophomore Denard Robinson started at quarterback for the Wolverines against UConn, marking the fourth different starter at the position in the last four seasons. Robinson, sophomore Tate Forcier (2009), Nick Sheridan (2008) and Chad Henne (2007) make up the Wolverines' starters for the past four season openers.
--The Michigan-UConn game was surprisingly clean for a season opener, with just three total penalties and one turnover. Michigan had one penalty and did not turn the ball over.
-- GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Denard Robinson -- The sophomore from Florida got the first start of his career, and turned in a record-breaking performance. Robinson displayed his sprinter's speed and rushed for 197 yards, a Michigan record for a quarterback. He carried the ball 29 times, had a 32-yard touchdown run, and also went 19-of-22 passing for 186 yards and another score.
-- KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Tate Forcier -- The sophomore from San Diego started all 12 games last season, but fell out of grace over the offseason, and lost his starting job to fellow sophomore Denard Robinson. Forcier looked detached at times during the season-opening win over UConn, and did not play a single down as the Wolverines looked very efficient with Robinson at the controls, leading scoring drives of 96, 77, 74 and 89 yards.
-- QUOTE TO NOTE: "Some of these stats, I don't want to say that they are surprising, but they are pretty pleasing." -- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez after the Wolverines put together a pretty sound performance in their season-opening win over UConn.

-- LOOKING GOOD: Coaches like to refer to the odd football term of "ball security," which references a team's ability to avoid turning the ball over. Last season, as it stumbled to a 5-7 mark, ball security was a huge issue, as the Wolverines had the Big Ten's
-- STILL NEEDS WORK: The kicking game was suspect coming into the season, and the gusty winds during the season opener against UConn make it hard to draw any conclusions about how redshirt freshman Brendan Gibbons will do. He nailed a pair of kickoffs with the wind behind him, sending them into the end zone, but had a missed field goal from 43 yards, while hitting a 23-yarder.

--QB Denard Robinson left the UConn game in the third quarter with a hip injury, but returned to play after being briefly spelled by freshman Devin Gardner.
--RB Vincent Smith, playing for the first time on his surgically repaired knee, did not get the start against UConn, but carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards.
--DB Carvin Johnson, a true freshman, left the UConn game with an undisclosed injury.
--RB Michael Shaw, who was cleared to play just a few days before the season opener when his academic eligibility was confirmed, carried the ball 15 times for 48 yards.
--RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, sidelined with a knee injury, did not play against UConn.

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