2010 Countdown: #5 Denard Robinson

2010 Countdown: #5 Denard Robinson

August 30, 2010

Name: Denard Robinson
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, FL
Position: Quarterback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #16
Last year: I ranked Robinson #31. He finished the season with 188 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions on 14/31 passes. He also had 69 carries for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns.

I wasn’t sold on Denard Robinson as a quarterback going into 2009. He was bound to be an integral part of Michigan’s offense, but he was raw as a signal caller. Coming from a high school that ran a Wing-T offense, I doubted he’d be ready to run a shotgun spread. His first play against Western Michigan was thrilling, but I guess after that, things could only go down. Robinson proceeded to be an evasive and exciting runner while also being a frustratingly poor passer. He excelled against an FCS patsy in Delaware State (3/4, 85 yards, 2 TDs), but was only 11/27 for 103 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions against teams with a pulse.

Part of the problem with Robinson’s performance in 2009 was the fact that Rich Rodriguez inserted him somewhat randomly throughout the season. Rather than playing him situationally or giving him a quarter here or there, Rodriguez whimsically inserted him whenever the breeze blew juuuuuuuuuust right. I don’t think anyone on the team was able to get in a rhythm, and that showed at times. It’s a testament to Robinson’s running ability that he was able to average over 5 yards per carry when it was clear that virtually every snap Robinson took would be a run.

In my opinion, the battle for the quarterback job in 2010 will come down to this: Which quarterback can run the zone read option most effectively? The zone read option has traditionally been the staple of Rodriguez’s offense, and he hasn’t had a quarterback run it consistently since Pat White did in 2007. Robinson was so ineffective at running the play that it was seemingly removed from the playbook when he was in the game. Tate Forcier seemed to make the wrong read two-thirds of the time. White averaged up to 8.0 yards per carry, and if Robinson can read the backside defensive end properly, there’s no reason that he can’t get at least six yards a pop.

I still think that Robinson will be extremely raw in 2010. There are reports that he has been tearing up Michigan’s defense in spring and fall practices, but keep in mind that it’s Michigan’s defense. We know that Robinson can run the ball, but can he make the right reads? Can he pick apart a defense that runs something other than a base Cover 3? I have my doubts. When nearly 15% of one’s passes against FBS opponents are caught by people wearing the wrong colored jerseys, faith disappears quickly. (Comparatively, a 15% interception rate for Tate Forcier would have resulted in approximately 42 interceptions!) Robinson will still be very important in 2010, but Michigan’s offense can succeed without him. Forcier’s range of talents makes #5 the most important quarterback on the team, no matter which quarterback starts on September 4th.

Prediction for 2010: Part-time starting quarterback; 900 yards passing, 8 touchdowns; 800 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns

I’m one of the few who doesn’t buy the hype, I guess. The voting went like this:

36% for Tate Forcier
28% for Troy Woolfolk
15% for Mike Martin
15% for David Molk
3% for Denard Robinson


  1. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Magnus – prediction on who starts at QB on Saturday? And do you think Rich Rod will truly platoon Robinson and Forcier, or do you see one of them having taken the majority of the snaps by the end of the season?

  2. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    @ Anonymous

    I think Robinson will start on Saturday. The race is reportedly neck-and-neck, and I think Robinson is going to be rewarded for his hard work and leadership in the offseason. I think he's also going to be given every chance to win the job because he's the type of runner Rodriguez wants to be behind center.

    By the end of the season, I think Forcier will have taken more snaps at quarterback. He's a better overall quarterback at this point, and while Robinson might be able to win games against lesser teams, I think teams with better defenses (Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, etc.) will require us to play Forcier for a chance to win.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    TTB/Thunder, I appreciate your sober-minded view of the QB situation. It's sometimes hard to see through the hype.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    @ Anonymous 8:48 a.m.

    Thanks. I don't know if I'm right, but I do try to tune out the fawning reports from spring practices. I tend to trust game performance over practice performance.

  5. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    I agree with your assessment of the QBs and why either would or would not start or play. You're a coach, and as a coach I would think that there are times when you have the inside knowledge of what's going on with the QB situation over those who are on the outside looking in. So you would make a decision that would cause outsiders to say "Why, who, what sense does that make?" It may not have been the higher percentage play or what the "book" would call "the right play or thing to do" under those circumstances but you made them because of your insight. I would think that RR is, has and will continue to do the same thing. So I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

  6. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    I'm confused. Magnus says the race is neck and neck, but I keep hearing that Tate is running with the 3s.


  7. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    @ TriFloyd

    From what I understand, Tate running with the 3s was mostly a result of his offseason habits. If he stays in line for the remainder of fall camp/the season, he will be moving up.

  8. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    I've thought all along that all the arguments about who's starting are somewhat beside the point, since both TF and DR are going to get plenty of snaps. I'm with Thunder on the question of practice vs game evaluations… let's wait to see how things go in games before we start anointing DR as the next Pat White. For that matter, let's wait until DG gets some game time in before we start declaring him the second coming of Vince Young. The assumptions people make in the complete absence of any real data are amazing.


  9. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    Some people's lack of skepticism and annual renewal in faith during all the offseason fluff amazes me. I come to blogs like this one and MGoBlog because critical thinking and an ability to sort through layers of crap is a useful skill. Just as important is the restraint to avoid converting hope and wishful thinking into expectations.

    I completely agree with the Denard/Tate analysis. The part that I hadn't seen discussed elsewhere was the notion that Denard can excel against weaker competition but may struggle against the Ohio State's and Iowa's. It seems reasonable that these teams will have the talent and/or discipline to contain his big-play ability, tipping the balance in the risk-reward function towards Tate. Though if Gardner is really being added into that function, I have no clue how it all plays out…

  10. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Also, I've really enjoyed this countdown. For someone who is obsessive about M-football (which everyone reading here surely is), the lead is often buried in these previews.

    I'd suggest starting the countdown a little earlier next year to save yourself a few posts of added thoughts in the leadup to the final week. Just my 2 cents on your blog…

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    id b surprised if woolfolk is more important than martin. in the b10 id b much more worried about stopping the run than having a shutdown(ish) corner. just sayin. oh and i agree that forcier is more important than drob.


  12. Comments: 21383
    Aug 31, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Magnus, can you post some of your teams film so we can all see your players and just see how good of a coach you really are? With all the talk and bs you spew over at MGoBlog I would expect pancake blocks every play by your oline and your dline to be in the backfield every play. And their pad level, you talk so much about pad level id like to see if your coaching backs up all your talk.

  13. Comments: 21383
    Aug 31, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    @ Anonymous

    Have I ever bragged about my coaching abilities or my team's success? No.

    Feel free to take your vitriol elsewhere. Nobody's holding a gun to your head and forcing you to visit my blog.

  14. Comments: 21383
    Aug 31, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    @ Lankownia

    Thanks for the compliments and suggestions.

  15. Comments: 21383
    Aug 31, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    Magnus, I know no one is forcing me to read your blog but since you've linked it to the bottom of your posts, and you post 50 times daily you've given me the opportunity to do so. Had you not done so I wouldn't know about your blog.
    So, am I going to get some of your film so I can break it down and give you some pointers? You know, since you feel the need to give your opinions on everything.


  16. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    @ B

    Your opinions mean very little to me.

  17. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 3:23 AM


    hey buddy. i know over at mgoblog its all 100000% positive UM positiveness filled with positive points of view. magnus is basically the ONLY person who says something that is half way negative about a recruit or anything for that matter. never have i seen magnus make a negative statement about a kid attacking the kid personally. he doesnt go "kid sucks. 2* crap" he makes valid points based on an analysis that(i believe) he takes pride in. this is basically why i stopped posting there. its impossible to be REAL there.

    i could post video of a 5'1 150 pound DT getting his ass run over and mgoblog would say "sign him up! looks like he puts forth a great effort!" or the typical "welcome to the family." just cuz magnus can say the TRUTH that a player doesnt play with proper pad level(which is basically true for every single high school level player(per position of course)) or something of the sort doesnt mean hes a dick. please, if u have an issue with his analysis then by all means refute it. argue it with evidence and your own analysis. dont just say "negative comments??? LALALALALALA I CANT HEAR YOU!!" or attack the person presenting the analysis.

    for example: i dont like shawn conway as a UM caliber commitment because i think hes too slow. tell me why he can succeed at a UM level. dont just say "wat do u mean hes not fast enuf? stop attacking the kid!" *neg bang.* show me why he is a UM caliber commit. argue it. its much more constructive.

    i havent seen anyone attack a high school kid with any analysis i read. to be honest, i wouldnt read it if it were attacking the KID. this is america, youre going to be criticized for everything you do.

    honestly ive never seen a fan site with such blind analyses that usually equate to a "sign him up he looks really good." every other fan site ive seen makes notes of the positive parts and the negative parts of how the recruit plays. mgoblog only does the positive parts cuz everyones too bitchy over "mgopoints" which, of course, are the currency of the universe according to some.

    if u think the opinion of ONE michigan fan posting on a blog is going to change whether a recruit is going to play for michigan or not, you might need to take a break from the computer. you posting that player x is soooo talented in every single way isnt going to sway him one way or the other, you arent that important to UMs recruiting. sorry to burst ur bubble.


    oh and stop trolling.

  18. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    did u remove my comment? cuz usually wen u remove someones comment it says "anonymous said… (italic) comment was removed by an administrator"


    i understand if i was being too harsh but its not like i wasnt telling the truth

  19. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    @ horn

    When people post comments, an e-mail is sent to my inbox. I received your comment by e-mail, but it's not showing up here yet.

    I did not remove your comment. This happened to someone else the other day, but it took several hours for it to post. I'm not sure why. Like theirs, I imagine yours will show up shortly.

  20. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    I believe both QB's will get time, but for this offense to really take off DR is the guy we want at the helm. His skill set is perfect for this run first offense. I like Tate but I find it funny how u mentioned that he would play better against more elite teams such as Iowa or O$U but as I recall Shoelace had more success than TF in both those games.

  21. Comments: 21383
    Sep 01, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    @ Troy

    Well, "more success" is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Robinson was 3/4 for 30 yards against Iowa and ran the ball well, and Forcier was 8/19 for 96 yards. So I'll give that one to you.

    However, Robinson was 2/4 for only 3 yards and averaged 3.1 yards a carry against OSU. Meanwhile, Forcier was 23/38 for 226 yards and directed a touchdown drive. Now, Forcier also made several turnovers, but I can't agree that Robinson was more successful than Forcier in the game. The coaches CLEARLY didn't think Robinson was up to the task, which is why he only threw four passes. Meanwhile, Forcier had a bum shoulder toward the end of the season.

    Anyway, I think both have their strengths, but they were both true freshmen last year. You're clearly entitled to your opinion, but I think good defenses will eat up Robinson in the passing game this season.

  22. Comments: 21383
    Sep 24, 2010 at 4:08 AM

    Shoelace should be the leading contender for the Heisman after incredible performances against the three first opponents including Notre Dame. I think Michigan will struggle against the top Big Ten teams, but they will end up a top 15 team.

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