|ESPN.com: Big Ten||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After watching Michigan's offense stall in 2008, most Wolverines fans judged the quarterback competition this spring by only one factor -- the development of Tate Forcier.
Sure, Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan were back, but the thought of a 2008 rerun at quarterback sent shudders through Wolverine Nation -- "trauma-induced flashbacks," as mgoblog.com puts it. Forcier, a true freshman who enrolled in January, brought skills that better suited Rich Rodriguez's spread offense and had an entire spring to sharpen them.
As it turns out, Forcier will have a busier spring than anyone anticipated.
Threet transferred last month, and Rodriguez announced Thursday that Sheridan will miss the rest of spring ball after sustaining a small fracture in his right leg during Tuesday's practice. Sheridan, who started four games last season, has a nondisplaced fracture that will not require surgery, and he's expected to be fine for preseason camp in August. The injury occurred during a scrimmage situation.
If Forcier's ascension was a foregone conclusion, Sheridan's injury shouldn't be too much of a setback for Michigan. Forcier will get every opportunity -- and more -- to make the necessary improvements in his game.
Still, Sheridan was taking snaps with the first-team offense, and given the nature of injuries to spread-offense quarterbacks, his development this spring meant a lot, too. And who knows? Maybe he improved enough to create significant separation with Forcier.
The bottom line is an already thin position, which happens to be the most important on the field, now features a true freshman (Forcier) and a junior (David Cone) with one collegiate pass attempt, in 2007 no less. Slot receiver Justin Feagin, who worked as a quarterback last season, will now take more reps at quarterback.
The starting job could very well come down to Forcier or fellow freshman Denard Robinson, who arrives this summer and doesn't lack self-confidence. But at the moment, Michigan doesn't have much of an insurance policy behind the two tenderfoots, neither of whom weighs 200 pounds.
Michigan has 10 more practices this spring, including the spring game April 11 at the Big House. Rodriguez and his staff will get an incredibly thorough look at Forcier.
Will they like what they see?