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Michigan quarterback Russell Bellomy, center, is upended as he is sacked by Nebraska's Ciante Evans, left, and Eric Martin on Oct. 27.

Nati Harnik, Associated Press

Wolverines chalk up QB's failures as part of learning

  • Article by: MARK SNYDER
  • Detroit Free Press
  • November 1, 2012 - 12:03 AM

Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges watched backup quarterback Russell Bellomy struggle during Saturday's 23-9 loss at Nebraska. But he insists Bellomy was prepared to step in for the injured Denard Robinson.

Bellomy missed on his first 10 passes, threw three interceptions and was 3-for-16 overall for 38 yards.

"We can correct the mistakes, make sure he understands that an incomplete pass isn't a disaster," Borges said Tuesday. "He's a smart kid, and he digests what you tell him quickly, and as he gains more experience, you'll see a better quarterback. That's got to be the approach. You can't freak out."

Practice still will be intense for Bellomy, but there is only so much coaches can do to get him ready if Robinson has injury issues against Minnesota on Saturday.

"You can't simulate that situation," Borges said. "That's a tough situation. He knows the game plan, you can teach him all of those things. But it's baptism by fire. You've got to jump into a situation where you're on the road, you're behind, you've got a lot of things going on there. In terms of his mental and physical preparation, he was adequately prepared."

Bellomy doesn't have Robinson's running ability, but he moves well enough to run most plays. The calls just change slightly for "a little different approach," Borges said.

Borges said Bellomy had a couple of tough breaks against Nebraska: the interception by P.J. Smith -- where the ball appeared to fall incomplete but popped up and was allowed to be returned 53 yards -- and one where he was hit as he threw. Plus, there were dropped passes.

But from the press box, Borges never got the sense that Bellomy was rattled as they talked on the phone during the game, only that he was "disappointed."

"Until you get into the game and you see the bullets fly and you get hit a couple times . . . all of a sudden, now you're live," Borges said. "Things are happening to you that haven't happened, and you have to learn from those experiences."

Borges and coach Brady Hoke reiterated Tuesday that they expect Robinson to return from the nerve injury in his right arm for Saturday's game.

Still, the focus on the backup QBs is a priority.

"We're kind of playing this game by ear," Borges said. "Denard's going to play. But again, you don't know because of the injury. So we have to prepare for any eventuality."

Borges said Devin Gardner, who was moved to receiver at the start of the season, hadn't taken practice snaps at QB in weeks, so putting him in against Nebraska "wouldn't have been a smart move."

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