Dislocated fingers force Denard Robinson out, Michigan's special teams issues linger and more
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Two of his fingers on his non-throwing hand were dislocated, but Denard Robinson wanted the opportunity rally the Michigan football team.
But after just 12 second-half plays, Robinson lost the ability to grip the ball with his left hand, forcing him to be a bystander for the remainder of Ohio State's 37-7 win on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Robinson said he didn't know when he injured his fingers, but figured he had taken a helmet to the hand. After gaining 101 rushing yards in the first half, Robinson gained just four more while throwing for 87 yards on 8-of-18 passing.
"He was playing pretty well," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I thought he made some nice throws. We had some drops, which hurt us, but we thought he was competing pretty well, so that set us back a little bit.
"But Tate (Forcier) has had enough experience, so he can go in there and do some things, too."
Robinson, who has dealt with minor injuries throughout the year, engineered Michigan's lone scoring drive of the game in the second quarter. His 20-yard run got the Wolverines to the Ohio State 1-yard line before Michael Shaw scored on a 1-yard run, cutting the lead to 10-7.
The Wolverines failed to capitalize on a pair of first-quarter scoring chances. Michigan twice got inside the Ohio State 30-yard line, but came away with no points. After Kevin Koger couldn't reel in a Robinson offering on a fourth-and-eight play, Robinson drove the Wolverines down the field on Michigan's next possession.
After reaching the 9-yard line on a 20-yard run, Robinson fumbled and lost the ball. Outside of its only scoring drive, Michigan got inside the Ohio State 20 just two more times the rest of the day.
"We were going, but we need to make plays when we need it," Robinson said. "We just weren't executing. It's going to be frustrating. When you get the chance to score, you've got to score."
Forcier played the final series of the first half and then played most of the second. The sophomore who started 12 games last year, threw an interception on Michigan's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, finishing 8-of-15 passing for 22 yards.
He drove Michigan to the Ohio State 1-yard line but was sacked and then misfired on two straight passes.
The hits keep coming As woeful as Michigan's special teams play has been all season, discipline had never been an issue.
Until Ohio State week.
Punter Will Hagerup did not make the trip to Columbus after violating a team rule, Rodriguez said.
Seth Broekhuizen, who has been at the center of the Wolverines' kicking struggles all season, filled in, averaging 28.7 yards on three punts. Broekhuizen's first effort traveled 18 yards, leaving Ohio State 35 yards to cover for its first score.
Broekhuizen also had a 24-yard punt in the third quarter, again giving the Buckeyes a short field to work with. Devin Barclay concluded that drive with a 36-yard field goal that gave Ohio State a 34-7 lead.
Forcier had one punt, booming a 52-yard pooch punt.
First time for everything Kicking issues aside, Michigan's special teams hadn't allowed a punt or kickoff return for a touchdown all season.
Again, until Ohio State week.
After the Wolverines got to within 10-7 on Shaw's second-quarter touchdown run, Ohio State's Jordan Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown that proved to be a major momentum shift.
Brokehuizen's kick traveled to the 15-yard line and Hall got a block before dashing down the sideline and making one cut to push the Buckeyes' lead to 17-7.
"That was awful," Rodriguez said. "The kick wasn't what we wanted and certainly, the coverage wasn't there. I will have to watch the film to see why that broke down, but that was certainly a huge momentum-buster, and that shouldn't happen."
What's next? Rodriguez said he will meet with his team Monday and then set up a bowl practice schedule once Michigan's post-season destination is determined. The Wolverines will spend the next couple of weeks working on conditioning while Rodriguez finalizes a tentative practice schedule.
Of the 15 practices allowed for bowl preparations, Rodriguez said the first six or seven will take on more of a spring ball mentality and focus on fundamentals.
This and that Saturday's loss to the Buckeyes was Michigan's seventh straight, the longest losing streak to Ohio State in school history. ... With 105 rushing yards Saturday, Robinson moved into fifth place in school history for single-season rushing. The sophomore has 1,643 yards on the ground and has passed for 2,316 yards for a total of 3,959 yards of total offense. .... Saturday marked the ninth time Robinson has rushed for at least 100 yards in a game. ... All 11 Michigan players from Ohio saw time against the Buckeyes, including six -- Courtney Avery, Kevin Koger, Jordan Kovacs, Patrick Omameh, Roy Roundtree and Ray Vinopal -- who started. ... Former Michigan offensive lineman and Ohio native Justin Boren was one of 24 Ohio State seniors who were recognized before the game. Boren, who left Michigan citing a lack of family values under Rodriguez, received one of the bigger ovations from Ohio State fans. ... Saturday's attendance of 105,491 was the seventh largest in Ohio Stadium history and the fourth largest against Michigan....The Buckeyes wore throwback uniforms that included red jerseys and red helmets honoring Ohio State's 1942 national championship team.