"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
Early enrollee. Younger brother of former M QB Jason Forcier. Personal site.
Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.
Indeed. Forcier's high school numbers were mindboggling, Colt McCoy-style things. His junior year he completed 77%(!!!) of his passes; at times you could have taken a shot every time a Forcier pass hit the ground and driven home in confidence. His completion percentage dipped this year, but there were reasons and compensations:
157 / 221
164 / 213
208 / 326
Forcier was given a much greater burden in his final year. That naturally drives down your numbers as the playcalling slants towards passing and defenses are being called with that in mind. Despite that, you can see Tate's YPC rise every year as the dinking and dunking receded.
The one glaring issue is Forcier's senior spike in interceptions. That's partially the increased attempts and partially what sounds like a sieve-like offensive line. In Forcier's final high school game he was sacked seven times in a 41-14 loss against Oceanside. An MGoBlog diarist took it in:
Tate throws a great ball. Unfortunately, his offensive line was horrible and never gave him any time to sit in the pocket and throw a deep ball. It would have been nice to see him attempt some down field stuff, but it was not to be. All of his passes looked sharp and accurate though. He also has a really quick release.
Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.
When not fleeing from virtually unblocked defenders, Forcier is creepily accurate. That was his calling card as early as November of 2007. Rivals introduces Tate:
Forcier, 6-1, 185 pounds can flat out spin the rock. We first saw him at the NorCal NIKE Camp two years ago following his freshman season and he was already throwing the ball better than just about anyone at the event. Mechanically, Forcier is nearly flawless and has everything you're looking for in a signal caller.
The quarterback takes a great drop, has a quick release and the ball comes out of his hand so effortlessly. There is no wasted motion in Forcier's delivery and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. He's very accurate and can throw on the run or outside of the pocket equally well.
Forcier’s arm is stronger than I thought it would be. Most of the balls he threw looked pretty crisp. He looked terrific in the drills. Running right or left he puts the ball on the money. I didn’t see him throw a poor ball.
Accuracy arises from good mechanics, which have been drilled into his head since he was tiny. Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith:
"I think he's got some of the best mechanics I've seen from a high school kid in a while," Smith said. "He's humble, and he's just willing to work. The kid's been playing football and winning games ever since he's been little."
You don't have mechanics like that, or two older brothers who got scholarships to Michigan and UCLA, without structural reasons pushing you towards that. Primary reason: Forcier's dad. A secondary one: Forcier's Tebow-esque homeschool setup:
On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.
No big deal.
"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."
Aaaand the 17-and-under readership of this blog just passed out in joyous contemplation of such a thing. The flexibility in Forcier's schedule allowed him to pack in hundreds of extra workouts with Marv Marinovich, the father of one-time quarterback wunderkind Todd. Marinovich's assessment of his charge is strangely poetic:
"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."
A haiku version of this:
Tate springs off his feet He bounds from side to side, and Then accelerates
So here's word two in our ever-expanding world's briefest Forcier scouting report: scrambly. ESPN's evaluation highlights it frequently:
Forcier lacks ideal height, but he makes a ton of plays with both his arm and feet. He has excellent speed for the position, but he's really a passer who happens to be athletic enough to run a spread or read-option attack with ease. … Has good mobility within the pocket, and pulls the occasional rabbit out of his hat when a play breaks down. Can sidestep the rush and has a very quick release. He isn't afraid to take off on the run. Can create second chances with his feet and pick up a first down. Often breaks containment, and can throw on the run to either side with very good accuracy. He's a timing passer who likes to get the ball out of his hand quickly. … Has ideal skills for his team's offense--excellent pre-snap reads, a quick release and great accuracy. … Shows a tough side and scrappiness when working to make things happen.
"That's why coach Rodriguez recruited me," Forcier said after Saturday's scrimmage. "A lot of times, when the play breaks down, that's your job. Make a play."
Indeed, this youtube video is full of "oh my god what are you doing, stop doing that, arrrgh… touchdown?!" moments:
cough cough drew tate cough tate, drew cough.
Forcier's tutelage and longtime starting experience had him net an impressive set of BCS offers before he even showed up at the Army All-American combine as a junior:
The talented Californian barely showed up in time for registration, but had big news with Auburn, Penn State and Oregon sending offers within the last week to join the existing group of Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Arizona.
Ironically, that article contrasts Forcier and Kevin Newsome, pigeonholing the former as a pro-style quarterback and the latter as a dual threat sort.
By the Signing Day a year before Forcier would actually put his name on a piece of paper, he had added to that list with offers from LSU, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Florida would also throw its hat in the ring by June at the latest; Tate's personal site also shows offers—like, you know, the actual letters—from Tennessee, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and many more. This is a lot of offers from impressive sources.
At that combine Forcier had some issues attributed, oddly, to the balls in use:
"I thought I threw the ball decent, I felt like I could have done better. I was getting used to the receivers and they did a pretty good job catching my ball. Overall I thought it went pretty well," Forcier said. "All quarterbacks like to have a certain kind of ball, some like the soft ones, some like the hard ones, and these were pretty hard. So you know we tried to adjust to them the best that we can.
"I have an advantage over some guys though, I've got big hands." [HEYO! –ed]
He did "nothing to hurt his standing" as a top 75 prospect… except apparently he did. So there you go. He dropped out of the top 100, but not far, and committed to Michigan about ten seconds after Kevin Newsome re-opened his recruitment, after attending the Utah game. And who could blame him after that?
I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.
Most encouraging development: The general existence of Tate Forcier. Forcier chucked one pass into a linebacker's pads but other than that was worlds better than anything Michigan's seen at quarterback since Lloyd Carr rode out of the Citrus Bowl on the shoulders of his team. Forcier was as advertised: quick and scrambly in the pocket, accurate on the run, worryingly small, &c.
…There was one overthrown screen and the shoulda-been interception, but other than that he was dead on. Unofficial stats had him 11/14 for 130 or so yards. That's worlds different from last year's spring game, in which both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions to legends like Artis Chambers and everyone started panicking in earnest about what fall would bring. Forcier's first excursion as Michigan's quarterback could not have been more reassuring.
So, here we are.
Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.
Look, you can even listen to ESPN, which grabbed the most Tate-like NFL quarterback in recent memory when searching for a comparison:
Has a style similar to that of Jeff Garcia, another riverboat gambler who finds ways to get the job done.
I'm telling you. I tell you. This I have told you.
Guru Reliability: High. Forcier's been on the radar screen a long time with his father and his brothers and whatnot. Also, the final guru ratings above are spectacularly similar, with Lemming's strong endorsement the only one that finds him outside a narrow band centered around #150. General Excitement Level: High, minus a pip or two. He's not Devin Gardner in terms of upside but those skills in this offense should provide an immediate boost, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't a four-year starter. Projection: Here's me on a limb: I think Forcier will be the starting quarterback this year. Wow, this limb… it's very wobbly no it's not it's the ground.
The only thing I will add as I was sitting with Brian at the sping game was that we still need to see the guy handle the blitz and not the "Hey, we're on the same team" two hand touch blit either. I think Tate is going to see the blitz early and often and how he responds to it will be crucial. IMO, if the kid goes out there and sees the blitzes and can make the right reads (post snap) or can use his wiggle to make plays early on, then he'll gain confidence, if that is even possible.
I am more curious about Denard as I feel like if he can come on during the summer camps and the first few games, then he'll be a solid contributor. We need 2-3 that RR feels he can win with, or atleast that is what RR says everytime someone asks him about QBs.
...getting the ball out to the slot, to a checkdown RB, or to Koger is going to be key. I especially think the slots and Koger are going to get a lot of work if teams like ND blitz Tate a lot. Once they back off, then the run and the deeper routes should be able to develop.
I think having Tate back there will give the offense time for plays to develop, which plainly never happened last year.
I would actually want Denard playing a lot to start the year. I think Denard's speed will really be a huge asset compared to tate, Tate is slippery and he throws accurately, but if denard makes the right read - he's gone. Should be fun to watch.
Eh it's not like he can't throw - you make him sound like Feagin at Minnesota. Bubble screens and passes out of the backfield will be Robinson's friend at first. I want to see if he can be a good passer - maybe I didn't get that across.
I like this comparison also....nothing against Brian's Drew Tate parallel, mind you, but after watching Forcier live at the spring game, my mind flashed to Reesing.....I didnt think of Drew Tate because I was thinking about QBs playing today.
Reesling just gets it done. Hopefully we can say the same about Tate.
....the fact that a starting LB, the best CB, the 3rd best CB (JT Turner), and midway through, a starting DT (RVB) weren't playing. Those are only 4 of the better players on the team. Graham was also taken out pretty quickly.
You can tell Michigan sent him an offer BEFORE the 2008 season got too far under way. Note the "32 Consecutive Bowl Appearances" at the bottom. =P It's ok though, we can start a new streak with Tate hopefully.
I think Forcier is a great pickup for Michigan. There needs to be some kind of forward motion, or the identification of some of the missing puzzle pieces that Coach Rodriguez and Michigan fans need. And this recruit landing in Ann Arbor is one of those pieces.
The downside is that he scrambles and then gets a zinger or dinger laid on. Height is really not an issue simply because he played taller in the spring game. Scrambling was not an issue either because he was elusive in the spring game. The fear is the spaces in between where the play breaks down, causing the scramble, and some random 200 plus LB'er or lineman simply falling/tackling the young man. Because there will be breakdowns, 3rd and longs and other obvious passing plays where he will scramble, be elusive and be one on one with some bigger people in the open field. His loss would significantly hurt the passing rhythm of the Michigan offensive attack. Not that Jack Kennedy and Denard Robinson cannot throw.
Great recruit, hard worker, so heres to sliding into tackles and staying healthy fella!