Ferentz concerned about Michigan’s Forcier


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Note to Tate Forcier: You’ve caught Kirk Ferentz’s attention in a big way.

Calling Forcier unusual, impressive, and “really good,” the 11-year Iowa head coach seemingly spent more time talking about Michigan’s true freshman scrambling signal-caller than his own team’s 5-0 start and No. 12 ranking.

Forcier came into Ann Arbor as a much-hyped, widely recruited dual -threat quarterback who was apparently made for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense. His self-made website — www.qbforce .com, on which he published every scholarship offer he received, including one from Iowa — created an even bigger following for the California native.

By the time he started in the Wolverines’ opener against Western Michigan on Sept. 5, Forcier, who arrived on campus in time for spring practice, had been anointed Michigan’s savior following its 3-9 2008 campaign.

Through five games, the 6-1, 188-pound baby-face freshman has led Rodriguez’s squad to a 4-1 record, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes and putting up a 9-3 touchdown-interception ratio. Perhaps most impressive was Forcier’s late-minute drive to beat then-No. 18 Notre Dame at home.

The freshman was 6-of-7 for 56 yards in the drive against the Fighting Irish, which concluded with a 5-yard touchdown toss to Greg Mathews in the final seconds. Ferentz and company watched Forcier’s dissection of Notre Dame’s defense on their way back from Ames after beating Iowa State, 35-3.

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“He seems to thrive in that situation, that circumstance,” Ferentz said.

Also in that Notre Dame game, Forcier showed off his scrambling ability. His 31-yard touchdown run on fourth and 3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter put Michigan up by 11.

Iowa senior linebacker Pat Angerer is aware of Forcier’s dual-threat ability, he said, and it was a point of emphasis for the Hawkeyes’ defense this week.

“Hopefully, our [defensive] line will do a good job of containing him, but he’s probably going to break a couple plays here and there,” Angerer said.

Ferentz said Forcier compares with the two quarterbacks Iowa has struggled against the most this year — Northern Iowa’s Pat Grace and Arkansas State’s Corey Leonard. Those two combined to complete nearly 60 percent of their passes for 486 yards and three touchdowns against Norm Parker’s defense.

Bringing pressure might not be the answer to containing the freshman, Ferentz said.

“You better be careful with what you wish for with this quarterback because he’s good,” the head Hawkeye said. “He’s really good.”

Moeaki, Prater should play

Ferentz said he expects defensive back Shaun Prater (knee) and tight end Tony Moeaki (ankle) to play on Saturday against the Wolverines. Moeaki has missed the Hawkeyes’ last three games.

“Our plan is to play him … unless something blows up this week,” Ferentz said.

Ferentz still confident in wideout

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos’ absence in the first half on Oct. 3 concerned a good amount of the Hawkeye faithful.

Despite the wide receiver’s apparent benching, the head coach continued to support Johnson-Koulianos.

“I think he’s had a good year so far,” Ferentz said. “We’re counting on him to help us out in the last seven games here. We’ve got a lot of big football games coming up.”

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