As freshman quarterback Tate Forcier left the Michigan locker room following Saturday’s 30-28 loss at Iowa, he walked slowly with his eyes almost fully covered by a white Michigan beanie.
At the time, he just looked upset about the loss. But Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday that Forcier suffered a light concussion on his last play, an incomplete third-and-14 pass where he was pressured by Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
If Forcier is medically cleared by Wednesday, he will start against Delaware State this Saturday, Rodriguez said.
“I don’t think it was a severe one, but he still has a headache today,” Rodriguez said. “I know everyone wants to talk to him after the game, but when you’re a true freshman and you’ve got a pretty good headache and tough ballgame, I hope y’all can realize you need a few days to decipher that.”
Rodriguez won’t know until today the severity of the concussion.
The concussion did not affect Rodriguez’s decision to play freshman quarterback Denard Robinson on the Wolverines’ final drive, because Rodriguez did not know about the injury at the time.
However, Rodriguez had noticed something different in Forcier’s demeanor. Forcier had led three comeback drives in five games, but the bright lights of a night game are particularly hard to deal with after suffering a concussion.
“On his last play, he got hit pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “So he wasn’t — you could tell he was not quite himself afterwards. … You could tell a little bit on the sidelines at the end of the game, and again, today this morning, he came in for treatment and still had a little bit of a headache.”
Injuries have hampered Forcier since Michigan’s last win against Indiana, during which he injured his right — and throwing — shoulder. Even though it limited the signal caller in practice on Mondays and Tuesdays leading up to Michigan State and Iowa, he still started each game.
But Forcier’s brother and roommate, Jason, said Monday that the shoulder may be a bit more of a concern than it has been thus far.
“His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes,” Jason said. “It’s the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it’s hurt for the rest of the year.”
Bradford sprained the AC joint in his throwing shoulder in the Sooners’ season opener on Sept. 5 and did not return until this past Saturday.
“(Tate)’s being tough,” Jason said. “But he’s playing against guys that are over three times his size.”
Jason told Tate to “be smart” when it comes to dealing with his shoulder injury.
Rodriguez assessed Forcier’s shoulder a bit differently Monday.
“His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn’t bother him too much in the game,” Rodriguez said. “Even in warm-ups, because it’s a little chilly out there, I thought Tate would take a while to loosen up. But really in the warm-ups, he said it felt pretty good. Even though he got treatment on it after the game, I don’t think it bothered him as much as it did the week before.”
In light of Forcier’s concussion, Rodriguez discussed the growing number of them in football as a whole. Earlier this year, the National Football League publicly acknowledged for the first time its players’ cognitive declines due to head injuries.
“I don’t know if there’s anything more you can do,” Rodriguez said. “The helmet manufacturers are doing all they can to have a safer helmet. But I think what’s happening is these young guys are getting so much bigger, stronger and faster.
“And when you get these young, strong athletes hitting each other at full speed, it’s like a car wreck. I don’t want to say it’s — it’s never going to be completely unavoidable.”
Cissoko Suspension: Rodriguez also clarified the suspension of sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, who started Michigan’s first four games but did not travel with the team to Iowa.
After the game Saturday, Rodriguez said Cissoko was “suspended for a violation of team rules.”
“When he comes back, it’s really up to him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s got certain things he’s got to do, on and off the field, academically and all that, and if he does that, he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”
On Monday, Rodriguez clarified that it was more than just an academic issue.
“It’s a couple of other things, but that’s part of it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important to him, I know that. Playing football is important to him. And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level.
“Talking to our academic folks, and he was doing things he’s supposed to do there for the most part. But it’s a daily thing, so we’ll see.”
Last week, Cissoko ran drills with the practice squad, and was “pretty good,” according to Rodriguez.
“He’ll continue to do that until he does all the things that he has to do to get unsuspended,” Rodriguez said.
Junior cornerback Troy Woolfolk is confident Cissoko will return, though he didn’t talk about the reasons behind Cissoko’s suspension.
“He’s a fighter, he’ll be back,” Woolfolk said.