"In high school, you get those slow shotgun snaps," the Michigan freshman quarterback said last week. "These come back like rockets."
After three weeks of spring practice, Forcier has mastered the center-quarterback exchange. Now, he's working on the rest of the offense. Forcier, an early enrollee from San Diego, knows he has been handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thanks to
Forcier, who never lacked confidence as the Scripps Ranch High quarterback or as the co-author of
"Coach Rodriguez already made it clear that nobody is going to win the job in the spring. It's going to come in the fall," said Forcier, whose brother,
The Wolverines are coming off one of the worst seasons in their storied history. Michigan finished with a 3-9 record in 2008 and were last in the Big Ten in scoring offense (20.2 points a game), total offense (290.8 yards a game) and passing offense (143.2 yards a game). Rodriguez, renowned for his offenses at Clemson, Tulane and West Virginia, had little with which to work. Rocket-armed quarterback
In high school, Forcier ran an offense similar to the one Rodriguez ran at West Virginia and hopes to run at Michigan. While Forcier doesn't have former Mountaineer
Also, Forcier is playing behind a much better line than Threet and Sheridan had last year. Michigan's linemen are more experienced, and the youngsters are pushing the starters in a unit that now goes 13 deep. "Last year they were real young, tentative at times," linebacker
Considering all those advantages, plus the tips Sheridan bestows after almost every play in practice, Rodriguez believes Forcier is ahead of where Sheridan was at this time last year. "Last year they were all new in the system, so it was a little bit tougher on the quarterbacks," Rodriguez said. "With Nick being out, the learning curve is accelerated as far as Tate being with the first group. That's not a bad thing."
Forcier met with Rodriguez and quarterbacks coach
Forcier's teammates have helped as well. Tailback
Guilty as charged, Forcier said. "Coach Rodriguez and coach Smith were saying that they can tell that I'm thinking too much," Forcier said. "When they can tell that I'm thinking too much, I probably am. They are doing a great job of making me more comfortable with it." As spring practice has progressed, Forcier has noticed himself becoming more instinctive. He hopes that by August, he'll eliminate any delays caused by over-thinking. Between now and then, Forcier also wants to do something else. He wants to get Barwis-ized.
"Coach Barwis has definitely showed me a little bit of a different life," Forcier said. "He's doing a great job with it, and I've got to give a lot of credit to him. He's trying to bring me along as fast as he can. ... Coming here, you're [bench-pressing] a 45-pound plate on each side, it's kind of pathetic. He's gotten me a lot stronger."
Forcier will need to be plenty strong to stay with the first team after Sheridan gets healthy and Robinson arrives. But as long as the quarterback who wins the job can lead the Wolverines to wins on Saturdays, Forcier said it doesn't matter who that quarterback is. "We've got to make each other the best we can make each other," Forcier said. "It's about winning for Michigan. You want to make yourself better, but you want the program to succeed. ... Whoever wins the job, let the best man win."