Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Michigan
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Record: 5-2 (1-2 Big Ten)
There haven't been many dull moments around Schembechler Hall this fall, as the national spotlight has locked on Michigan and second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez. There were the preseason allegations of NCAA time-limit violations that led to an emotional news conference by Rodriguez and an internal investigation by the school. When the season began a week later, Michigan pounded Western Michigan and showed obvious improvements on the offensive side. Rodriguez's spread system has started to click, and true freshman quarterback Tate Forcier showed impressive fortitude in leading game-winning drives against both Notre Dame and Indiana and rallying the team from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit at Michigan State. The offense remains young but dynamic, and the defense has been prone to breakdowns but also tremendous performances from cornerback Donovan Warren and end Brandon Graham. After a 4-0 start, the Wolverines dropped consecutive games and Rodriguez drew some criticism for pulling Forcier late against Iowa. Michigan likely won't challenge for a league title this year, but there still will be plenty of excitement in Ann Arbor down the stretch.
Offensive MVP, QB Tate Forcier -- Without Forcier, Michigan likely would have a losing record right now and the heat would once again be rising on Rodriguez. The true freshman was brilliant down the stretch in wins against Notre Dame and Indiana and even in the loss to Michigan State. He has played through pain and shows an unusual fearlessness on the field despite a small frame. Honorable mentions go to running back Carlos Brown and backup quarterback Denard Robinson.
Defensive MVP, CB Donovan Warren -- It's a close call between Warren and Graham, but the junior cornerback has carried a very suspect secondary on his back. Warren is tied for the league lead in passes defended (10) and ties for second with three interceptions. Graham certainly deserves some love with 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble. Honorable mention goes to walk-on safety Jordan Kovacs, who ranks second on the team in tackles (45).