|Denard Robinson (#16) targets Roy Roundtree
Name: Denard Robinson
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, FL
Jersey number: #16
Last year: I ranked Robinson #5, said he would be the backup quarterback, and pegged him for 800 yards rushing, 900 yards passing, and 18 total touchdowns. Boy, was I wrong. He started every game, went 182/291 passing for 2,570 yards, and had 18 passing touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Name a record and he set it, name an award committee and they voted him the winner. Robinson set multiple Michigan records, including total yardage, and rushed for more yards than any quarterback in NCAA history. He also was named team MVP, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Big Ten MVP, All-American, my high school’s homecoming king, American Idol, and America’s Next Top Model. It was a pretty good year.
Rather than trying to summarize what he did in words, just take a look at Robinson’s weekly box scores:
UConn: 19/22 passing, 186 yards, 1 touchdown; 29 carries, 197 yards, 1 touchdown
Notre Dame: 24/40 passing, 244 yards, 1 touchdown; 28 carries, 258 yards, 2 touchdowns
UMass: 10/14 passing, 241 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception; 17 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown
BGSU: 4/4 passing, 60 yards; 5 carries, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns
Indiana: 10/16 passing, 277 yards, 3 touchdowns; 19 carries, 217 yards, 2 touchdowns
MSU: 17/29 passing, 215 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions; 21 carries, 86 yards, 1 touchdown
Iowa: 13/18 passing, 96 yards, 1 touchdowns, 1 interception; 18 carries, 105 yards
PSU: 11/23 passing, 190 yards, 1 touchdown; 27 carries, 191 yards, 3 touchdowns
Illinois: 10/20 passing, 305 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 19 carries, 62 yards
Purdue: 13/21 passing, 176 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions; 22 carries, 68 yards
Wisconsin: 16/25 passing, 239 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception; 22 carries, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns
Ohio State: 8/18 passing, 87 yards; 18 carries, 105 yards
Mississippi State: 27/41 passing, 254 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception; 11 carries, 59 yards
He had nine 100-yard rushing games and seven 200-yard passing games. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry, which is an outstanding average when one considers that Michigan’s running backs were mostly average and rarely a threat to do anything but get injured.
The coaching change is bound to take away some of Robinson’s impressive stats. Including yours truly, many people were concerned that giving that ball to a 6’0″, 190 lb. kid twenty times a game was a bad idea . . . especially when the season’s outcome not only relies on that kid’s legs, but also his shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers. Robinson missed time in several games last season due to injury, and the new coaching staff won’t put him at risk that often. That also means cutting into his rushing statistics, but with an improved defensive philosophy and – hopefully – a new commitment to getting production from the running backs, Robinson should be a little healthier throughout the year.
When Brady Hoke was hired back in January, he emphasized a commitment to the “power run” which is a play usually designed to be run from the I-formation. I expect Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges to run a good deal of power from the I-formation, and that means a handful of other plays out of the “I” as well. However, I think Hoke and Borges will realize that Robinson works best from the shotgun, where he can see the field a little more clearly and read running and passing lanes a little more easily. After the first few games, the coaches ought to be able to figure out their “bread and butter” plays and adjust their offensive philosophy from there. I expect to see several designed quarterback runs each game, along with a light dose of zone read option plays, bootlegs, and bubble screens.
Not to be Debbie Downer, but I doubt that the country will see such an explosive offense as last season. Robinson will make his fair share of nice runs – designed or not – and his running ability will open up some big plays in the passing game, too. But I still have my doubts about Robinson as a passer. He’s not extremely accurate and he won’t be able to rely on coaches making playcall adjustments from the sideline in the same no-huddle manner as we’ve seen from Michigan, Northwestern, and Oregon in recent years. Last season Robinson struggled to throw an accurate deep ball consistently, and even some of his short throws (bubble screens, hitches, etc.) were inaccurate. There were several instances where guys like Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway openly showed their frustration when short passes were thrown at their feet and they couldn’t do what that pass aims to do, which is allow for yards after the catch. It will no doubt be an exciting season for Robinson and Michigan fans, but I’m not expecting another Heisman campaign.
Prediction: 2,700 yards passing and 900 yards rushing, 28 total touchdowns; First Team All-Big Ten