Forcier fills in for injured Robinson, leads Wolverines over Illini

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After Michigan had sealed its thrilling triple-overtime victory, and after they had finished singing “Hail to the Victors” with the band and student section, the players and coaches began to make their way up the tunnel to the locker room, all while enthusiastically high-fiving and hugging teammates and friends.

But the last player to make it up the tunnel was perhaps the most fired up of them all, jumping up and down and waving his arms, still attempting to fire up the Michigan faithful — backup quarterback Tate Forcier.

“That was the craziest game I’ve ever even witnessed, let alone be a part of,” Forcier said. “But I’m happy for our guys. I’m real happy for our seniors; we needed that win just so we could get bowl eligible. I’m proud of our guys.”

Forcier entered the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter after starting quarterback Denard Robinson was forced out of the game with dizziness and a headache. But despite entering a game that had already seen 76 points put on the board, the former starter was not intimidated, even after he fumbled the first snap he took.

“It didn’t really bother me too much, the first mistake, because it was just, my hands were in my hand warmers and my hands were moist when I went out there,” Forcier said. “I actually had a touchdown, that’s what actually made me mad. But things happen. You just gotta face adversity and do what you gotta do.”

Forcier ended the game completing 12 of 19 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception and even added 33 yards on the ground.

“We can move on anybody, any quarterback that gets in,” receiver Roy Roundtree said. “That’s how it is in practice. We rotate quarterbacks, so we get used to all of them. It really wasn’t a big deal. If we play like we can play, I don’t think nobody can stop us.”

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said he was proud of the way his team responded after losing its offensive leader and Heisman Trophy candidate late in the game.

“They showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight,” Rodriguez said. “Our backs were up against the wall, and I told them when your back is up against the wall, you can go two ways. You can go forward, or you can slump down. I didn’t want anybody to slump down, and I don’t think anybody did.”

Rodriguez was especially complimentary of Forcier, who was replaced by Robinson before the season after starting for most of the season as a true freshman last year.

“Tate, he’s an experienced guy. He fumbled around the first one, that’s for sure, but he didn’t hang his head,” Rodriguez said. “Instead, he goes out there and he competes.”