October 10, 2009 at 1:00 am

Terry Foster

Michigan needs to get everyone on the same page

Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez, right, tried to quell any talk of friction after Saturday's defeat. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

Iowa City, Iowa -- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez tried his best to paint a rosy picture after Saturday's 30-28 loss to Iowa. If you listened to Rodriguez address the media, all is well in the land of maize and blue. But it is not.

There is something wrong with this brew. The chemistry is not as strong as it should be and it is one of the reasons doubts are hovering over this program.

Did freshman quarterback Tate Forcier have harsh words with his coach on the sideline? We don't know what was said. We only know there were animated conversations between the two.

Are the Wolverines placing their defensive players in a bad scheme that will foster failure rather than success? Rodriguez said that is not the case, but it sure looks like it.

Rodriguez is likely to use Sunday to do some damage control. He will talk to Forcier and try to patch things up. The next time he talks to the media he will be all smiles and tell us we are trying to find negatives about the program.

We simply want the truth. But I understand the old sporting mantra that what goes on in the room stays in the room. Rodriguez does not want dirty laundry out in public, and I do not blame him.

He was besieged with quarterback questions Saturday because reporters want to know what is going on with him and Forcier, his star quarterback.

Did Forcier sit because he was hurt? Did Rodriguez do it to punish Forcier or was Rodriguez telling the truth when he said he was trying to get a spark at that position?

Change was needed

Quite frankly Rich Rod made a mistake by not going to Robinson sooner. The Wolverines needed a spark at that position after Forcier began throwing the ball all over the place and stopped making smart plays.

I usually am not a proponent of two-quarterback systems but Michigan is tailor-made for that. Forcier should remain the starter, but Robinson needs to be in on 30-35 percent of snaps.

The Wolverines were dead and buried until Robinson came into the game late in the fourth quarter. He changed the tempo and had the Hawkeyes' defense on its heels. It needed a series to adjust to him. By the time the Hawkeyes did, a nine-point lead had been sliced to two.

It was too little, too late. Who knows? Maybe if Rodriguez made the move earlier, Michigan pulls off the upset.

"We talked about putting Denard in earlier," Rodriguez said.

But they didn't have the fortitude to make that move. Would they have won with Robinson in sooner?

Who knows?

Confusion of defense

The main problem with Michigan is lack of chemistry on defense. Players still do not know one another and they do not appear to trust the scheme. I know teams are going to give up touchdowns during the course of a game. But some of the touchdowns Michigan surrendered were ridiculous.

The two touchdowns by slow-footed Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki, for example. They came on similar plays. Michigan blitzed. Moeaki delayed his route, and when he was 10 yards off the line of scrimmage there was no one within 10 yards.

"I'm not sure what the read was," Moeaki said. "I was wide open and to be honest I just jogged it in."

He went on to praise some of his blockers, but you should never be able to jog in touchdowns from 34 and 42 yards in the Big Ten.

Once again it is a case where Michigan players were confused as to what scheme they were in. That comes down on the coaches.

Last season the Michigan defensive coaches let their players down. It is happening again.

Next week, all will be great with Michigan because it faces Delaware State. But there are demons buried in this program, and we might see them again when Penn State rolls into Ann Arbor.

What's going on with Michigan's program?

I am not sure.

But something does not smell right.

terry.foster@detnews.com">terry.foster@detnews.com (313) 222-1494

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