Denard Robinson shouldering too much blame for Alabama loss, Michigan says
ANN ARBOR -- Should Denard Robinson have run more? Did he make the right reads? Can he beat teams with his arm?
Is he overrated, or one-dimensional, or hurt, or turnover prone?
Those are questions being asked by fans and pundits after Michigan's shellacking at the hands of No. 1 Alabama. But coaches appear to have a singular response.
"People want to gang up on Denard -- they’re making a mistake," coach Brady Hoke said this week.
Michigan's offense stalled in the season-opening 41-14 loss. Its game plan was to pass if the Tide loaded the box to stop the run, and run if they dropped back to stop the pass.
Alabama, like other strong defenses before it, elected to load the box to stop Michigan's running game -- and specifically, Robinson's running game. So the Wolverines went to the air, which was not successful.
Robinson finished 11-of-26 passing (42.3 percent) for 200 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He rushed 10 times for 27 yards.
Meantime, Robinson was held to two first-half carries. His team picked up just four first downs and trailed 31-7.
But it wasn't all on Robinson.
Receivers also ran bad routes, or wrong routes, and dropped passes when they did connect. The offensive line struggled to get push, which closed up running lanes.
"Him being a quarterback at the University of Michigan, everybody's going to blame him," senior receiver Roy Roundtree said. "But, at the end of the day, it's not him. It's a team thing. And we've got to help him out more.
"He's not worried about it. He stays composed throughout the game, and afterward, he just said we'll be fine."
Robinson feels the pressure, too. He became the face of the Wolverines in his first two seasons as the starting quarterback, and assumed a more prominent leadership role this offseason.
He knows Michigan's fortunes are a function of his play, and he sometimes tries too hard. He said he was pressing, along with his teammmates, once they fell behind 31-0.
"We was just trying to make too much happen too fast," Robinson said. "We had to take it play by play, not trying to make a comeback at one time. We can't score 31 points in one series."
Borges says he wants people to understand that Robinson doesn't do it all -- that the team's successes and failures don't always rest on the quarterback. But it's a message he wants Robinson to understand as well.
“He feels that onus sometimes and, as a coach, I’ve got to make sure that’s clear to him, too," Borges said. "When Denard plays within his game, runs the football well, makes good decisions in the passing game, he’s really a great player.
"Not a good player, but a great player, because he has things other quarterbacks don’t have.”
Robinson is taking that message to heart.
"He knows that's how I am," he said of Borges' message. "I feel like I want to do so much, and he always knows that's my personality -- just do whatever it takes to win.
"So that's what he always says to me. 'Just calm down, there's 11 guys on the field, so you just got to let them play too.'"