QBs not getting no-contact jerseys yet

Updated: April 6, 2010, 9:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez has the non-contact jerseys all ready for Michigan's quarterbacks.

The coach just isn't ready to hand them out quite yet.

"We haven't put our quarterbacks in different-colored jerseys yet," he said. "Normally, you'd do that, but we need to work on ball security at that position. We weren't good enough with that last season, and it isn't something you can learn without being tackled."

So sophomores Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, along with freshman Devin Gardner, aren't being protected.

"We aren't going to get them killed out there, but they are getting tackled," Rodriguez said. "We expect to have a better team this year, but we aren't going to be good enough to beat ourselves with turnovers."

Forcier was expected to have a distinct edge in the three-way battle. He started all 12 games last year as a true freshman, while Robinson was mainly used a runner. Gardner was still in high school.

Rodriguez, though, thinks that Robinson has taken full advantage of his first spring camp.

"Last year, Denard didn't get his first chance to work with us until August, and at that point, you have to be focused on the game plan," he said. "This spring, we've really been able to work on his fundamentals, and he's improving in the passing game."

Rodriguez said Gardner has impressed him with his progress over the first two weeks of camp.

"Devin is a very conscientious guy who loves football," Rodriguez said. "He's only had eight practices, but he has learned very quickly. We just have to remember that it isn't realistic to expect too much from a young man when most kids his age are still in high school."

That leaves Forcier with two rivals for the starting job, but Rodriguez said he is pleased with the way the incumbent is trying to defend his job.

"We've talked to Tate about how we are going to challenge him, both on the field and academically," Rodriguez said. "We've told him that we expect him to move forward as a player every year, and he's a very competitive guy who embraces that."

Rodriguez might not have a clear starter when his team reunites this fall, but he said he doesn't see that as a negative.

"All three of them bring different things, but the important thing is that we want all of them running the whole offense this year," he said. "We don't necessarily want one player who is going to pull away as the clear No. 1. We'd rather have two or three guys that we feel like we can win games with, and right now we've seen all three of them get better and head in that direction."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press