BY JOE STAPLETON
Daily Sports Editor
Published September 25, 2010
In what could be considered the ultimate team effort, the Michigan football team had no trouble rolling over Bowling Green on Saturday, beating the Falcons 65-21.
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The Wolverines got valuable contributions from three quarterbacks — sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, as well as freshman Devin Gardner. All three took a good deal of snaps on the way to a 34-point Michigan victory.
The 109,933 in attendance at Michigan Stadium held their collective breath near the end of the first quarter when Robinson, whose play so far this season has vaulted him to the top of the Heisman race, laid on the ground injured after being tackled on a 47-yard run down Michigan's sideline.
Before being knocked out of the game, Robinson was on track for another statistically mind-boggling afternoon. In just the first quarter, the sophomore sensation was 4-for-4 for 60 yards through the air and rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Freshman quarterback Devin Gardner replaced Robinson with about six minutes to go in the first quarter and looked impressive. The Detroit native drove the Wolverines down the field to score with an 11-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. Michigan went into the second quarter up 21-0 on the Falcons, but down a quarterback.
The second quarter was a forgettable one for the Michigan defense, which played well otherwise, as Bowling Green scored two touchdowns to cut the lead to seven.
But with five minutes left in the first half, the crowd at the Big House was treated to a familiar sight. Sophomore quarterback Tate Forcier ran out on the field for the first time this season and got a very warm reception.
"Of course I heard (the crowd)," Forcier said after the game. "How can you not? Our crowd is so loud. The crowd always motivates you. You just wanna keep hearing that."
Forcier looked like he hadn't missed a beat from his 4-0 start last season. On his first drive, the quarterback marched the Wolverines 69 yards in 10 plays to score on a two-yard run by junior Michael Shaw. The touchdown gave Michigan a 14-point lead at halftime.
"At halftime, we weren't real happy," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said after the game. "We were happy with what we could do, but we weren't happy with the score."
One thing Michigan had no trouble doing was running the ball. Rodriguez played six different running backs and got significant contributions from five of them.
On Michigan's first offensive drive of the second half, Shaw and sophomore Vincent Smith combined to run the ball eight out of Michigan's 10 plays on the drive, which culminated in a play-action pass from Forcier to redshirt junior fullback John McColgan.
And after an interception by senior linebacker Jonas Mouton on the next drive, the Wolverines scored easily on an eight-yard run by Smith, the first of his two touchdowns on the day.
In the fourth quarter, Michigan fans got their first glimpse of redshirt freshman running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, and he didn't disappoint. On his very first carry as a Wolverine, the Youngstown, Ohio native burst through the Bowling Green defense for 61 yards before being brought down from behind. He ran the next play in for the touchdown.
That long run put Toussaint ahead of Michigan's two premiere backs — Smith and Shaw had 62 and 59 yards, respectively, while Toussaint ended up with 66. Redshirt sophomore Mike Cox had 56 yards of his own, as well.
"All the guys just have their own skill set," redshirt freshman left tackle Taylor Lewan said after the game. "Shaw's really quick, Fitz just has a hard edge, it's all good. These guys are playing really well, and I'm excited to see what they'll do the rest of the season."
Lewan, who was made a starter this week after backing up redshirt junior Mark Huyge the first three games of the season, played every offensive snap until seven minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
The win makes Michigan 4-0 for the second straight year. But Rodriguez said this team feels different from last year, when it followed its hot start by losing seven of its last eight games.
"We're deeper on offense, for sure," Rodriguez said. "We're deeper at just about every position offensively. Last year was last year and this is a completely different year."
Seeing Forcier at the podium after the game was a throwback to last year. The sophomore was great, finishing a record 12-for-12 through the air for 110 yards and a touchdown.
The game showcased all three of Michigan's quarterbacks and all three played very well. Overall, Rodriguez was happy with what he saw.
"Against Bowling Green and what we were doing today, I thought all three quarterbacks were very efficient," Rodriguez said. "The neat part for us is that all three of those guys have not hit their ceiling yet. Not even close."