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Posted on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke insists Denard Robinson is his starting quarterback

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was limited to 123 yards passing and 42 yards rushing by Michigan State. That changes nothing, and Robinson remains the Wolverines' starting quarterback, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.

Melanie Maxwell |

As Denard Robinson lay on the Spartan Stadium turf, writhing in pain from a late hit that knocked him out of the game, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy was waving his arms to the crowd in a call for more noise.

Meantime, the Spartans' Marcus Rush, who delivered the knock-out punch after the whistle, ran to the Michigan State sideline and received several high-fives from teammates, despite the 15-yard penalty that kept alive the Michigan football team's final hopes of a comeback.

The message was clear: Michigan State wanted to punish Robinson at any cost, and that they did in a 28-14 win against Michigan on Saturday. The Wolverines' junior quarterback had the worst start of his career, passing or throwing, and was removed for stretches in favor of backup Devin Gardner.

But while Robinson never returned to the game after being twirled to the ground by Rush, he remains on his feet as 18th-ranked Michigan's starting quarterback.


Sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner is 7-of-14 passing for 101 yards this season.

Melanie Maxwell |

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke made that summarily clear Monday during his weekly news conference with reporters.

"Denard is our quarterback," he said, dispelling any notion of a quarterback controversy. "We’re 6-1, and a lot of that is because Denard is our quarterback."

Robinson was 9-of-24 passing for 123 yards, one interception and one touchdown against the Spartans, and ran for just 42 yards, a career low among games he's started. It was the third time this season Robinson failed to complete at least half his passes.

He did that just twice all of last year.

With Robinson struggling, Hoke went to Gardner for about 16 snaps against Michigan State, including when Robinson was healthy. He acknowledged he was more confident in Gardner's arm, considering the gusting winds that plagued the passing game.

"I think Devin, at times, can throw the ball a little more accurately," Hoke said at the time. "I have to do what's best for Michigan."

Hoke said there were a series of plays Michigan wanted to run with Gardner under center, including a couple types of bootlegs, a play on which Gardner scored a 1-yard touchdown against Northwestern the previous week. There also were some two-quarterback formations with Robinson lined up in the backfield or split out at receiver.

That, however, does not mean Gardner will see a whole quarter of action, or even a full drive, Hoke said, and he admonished fans who believe Gardner should be the full-time quarterback.

"They have an opinion," Hoke said. "Doesn't carry much weight, but they have an opinion. We're with (Robinson) every day."


Something on your mind after Michigan's first loss of the year? Email your question or comment to football beat writer Kyle Meinke at kylemeinke@annarborcom for Thursday's column.

Also, join Meinke in a live chat at noon Thursday to talk more Michigan football.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges has said he does not like taking his starting quarterback out of the game entirely because it can disturb his rhythm. However, Hoke said he has not seen Robinson bothered by that yet.

He compared it to the playing rotation of any other position.

"That’d be similar to taking a defensive end out and rotating him, when I think about it, because they both have fundamentals and techniques they have to do," Hoke said.

"I don’t know what the difference is."

Players said they have no problem with Robinson or Gardner as their quarterback, because both are talented enough to make plays.

"It’s good to get Devin in there a little bit, but Denard’s our quarterback and he’s here to stay," tight end Kevin Koger said.

The biggest advantage to getting both out there at the same time is if Robinson gets hurt, Gardner, a sophomore, will have game experience from which to draw. That's significant, considering Robinson left 10 games with injury last year.

Now, he's left the past two games, first with a left hand injury against Northwestern, then with a bruised back against Michigan State.

Robinson was sacked four times (and Gardner three) and on the wrong end of two roughing-the-passer calls against the Spartans. He eventually left the game after Rush's late hit, although he also left the game with an apparent right (throwing) hand injury and was seen limping to the team bus after the game.

There also was a late hit/facemask call against MSU's William Gholston for jumping on an already-downed Robinson and twisting his head.

That all was by part of the game plan for Michigan State, according to Worthy, the Spartans' prized defensive tackle who was disruptive throughout the game. He said their aim was to strike fear into Robinson.

Worthy said by the time Robinson was knocked out, he saw fear in the quarterback's eyes. Koger, though, saw no such thing in the huddle or on the sideline.

"I actually thought he was more calm than usual," he said.

Worthy also said MSU's game plan was to force Robinson to the air because he "can't throw." Hoke disagreed.

"That's not true," he said. "That's a bogus statement, because he can throw. He's proven it a couple different times this year, I believe. There's a lot more (to the offense's struggles) than just Denard."

Robinson's the guy going forward, whether or not Gardner's a better passer.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Dave Hubbard

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 5:28 a.m.

Time for truth folks. 1- Who should be the starting QB...are you kidding me...with Denard Michigan is 6 and 1 and deserves alot of respect for the job done so far (including standing up to a brutal pass rush last saturday). Take note when MR. Robinson scores that he kneels to pray. The boys in green hi-five one another when they commits a personal foul. 2- Hoke has already won more big ten games than Richwhatshisname did his first year. 3- Even Coach Hoke's has stated...this is a work in progress...this is as good as it will EVER get for the thugs from East Lansing (who no longer deserve a team name)... enjoy back to back losses Sparty. 4- Defense is not a joke any more. 5- sit back, take a week off, look forward to Michigan giving Purdue a serious spank. and enjoy Wisconsin's inevitable beatdown of that goon factory in East Lansing.. 6- LSU (coached by a Michingan Man) suspended 3 guys for this week...grow a pair you boys in East Lansing and suspend that fine gentleman who punches other players and commits assualt right there on the field as he deserves. 7-8-9-10 Any Wolverine fan after the debacle of RR should be thrilled with 6-1 at the bye week.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

As a Michigan fan, we should all stop complaining about Gholston and MSU's actions. Yes it was deplorable, but it didn't cause us to lose the game. If anything, all of their thuggish play and personal fouls helped us out. Then again I could also say I don't remember us scoring on any drive that had a personal foul against us. Officiating and our own play calling did stink and ultimately lost the game for us. Our D held up just fine. I see us winning the game if the following happens, in order of importance... 1) Denard runs over center on 4th and inches. I would bet my life he gets a first down. I have no idea what the rational was there. We're down a TD on the road. They have been getting to Denard all day and we couldn't stop a pass rush... RUN THE BALL, tie the game, and force them to continue playing against the wind. Four more downs from inside the 10, we score... Even Dantanio admitted he was worried about this. Absolutely horrible call.... 2) The referee calls the backward pass a backward pass and fumble. Maybe we don't walk into the end zone, but they also don't score on that drive going with the wind. I don't see how the referee on the sideline blows that call. 3) Taunting penalty should have been called on the pick six. We might hold them and they might miss the FG (wishful thinking at best on this one, but who knows). In the end, we lost. It had nothing to do with MSU being MSU. We had this game even though we played very poorly which is a huge positive for us, we've just got to execute and make the right play calls. We've got a lot of season ahead of us and good ole Sparty wants to think he is better he should check the record books, across all sports, not just football, and see how clearly we dominate. Go Blue!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Enough with the whining about the cheapshots and dirty play of Michigan State. If the Big Ten or NCAA thought there were actions that merited a further response beyond a 15-yard penalty, we'd have heard about it by now. Guess what? This was a heated rivalry being fought on the field Saturday and Michigan got out-muscled. That's it. Deal with it. Michigan is going to have to be tougher if they want to win this game. They know it, too. Stop pretending we lost due to dirty play. With that said, I've never in my life looked more forward to next year's game. The Michigan State game has been a far less meaningful rivalry up until now, as it has hardly been competitive in my lifetime (MSU having won only seven times in 26 games since 1982 before this last four game stretch). It was MSU always working to prove themselves a worthy opponent. Now they have, and now Michigan is the team working to prove their worthiness. It was easy to write-off the Rodriguez Era losses, but four-in-a-row is four-in-a-row. The table has turned, and it will take a long winning streak over Michigan State to say it's turned the other way. I believe in our recruiting and in our coaching staff and believe Michigan will rise up and put Michigan State back in its place, but that task is still at hand and will be for the forseeable future. And I cannot wait. Go Blue


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

I think Denard can improve from where he is at right now but I dont think he is ever going to be a true passer. He does not read defenses, he does not call audibles, or make hot reads. I think he decides who he is going to throw to before the play even starts. So Denard is QB because of his wheels and 53.9% completion rating, what happens when he cant run for the passing yards your giving up? The throws Denard can make right now are jump balls down field to guys that are stopped, bubble screens, and slants (50-50 chance on slants to be picked). If Denard could not run he would not make this football team! It is tough critisism by Mich. fans to a guy that has brought so much excitement to the program by his running ability, but I dont think it is fair to the rest of the team to play a guy simply because he had so much hype from last year and is not your best QB. My guess is that Denard will not be the starter by the end of the year or by the start of next. If Devin calms down he is a much better QB who can scramble but he is just young and inexperienced right now. On MSU and their thugs: RedCeder those football players represent your university, students, and graduates. Thats why when you go to get a job and your possible employer looks at your resume and sees that you are an MSU graduate he or she goes, ohhhh, thanks for stopping in, but we are not hiring at the moment! The moment you walk out of that business is the moment they start hiring again! In terms of the officiating, well it was pretty bad on both sides! The backwards pass that was obviously backwards and not forwards. The mysterious Delay of Game on the first series by mich. (you have 25 seconds from the time the ball is placed at the line of scrimmage and it took Mich. about 10 to run the play). Gholston not ejected after the punch (which the officials saw!!!). These where the same officials that made the horrible late hit call on Shawn Crable in 06' against OSU!

Blu n Tpa

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

RC Thank you for visiting. If I were you I wouldn't bring up Heisman winners. Stick with winning the game on Saturday and making plans for playing without No. 2 for a couple of weeks. I would advise Cousins to wear a flak jacket because all Big Ten teams will now target him like msu "targetted" DRob. There's bringing pressure to get inside a QB's head but actually trying to take his head off is a little extreme. I suspect that in a few weeks it will be apparent that the officials have had a sharp eye out for similar behavior from msu. You have a nice day in "Sparty World".


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:27 a.m.

Yes, Shoelaces is the starting QB unitl it's third and long and they're losing. Maybe Gardner will win the Heisman this year since Shoelaces already has two. Too bad the NCAA does not have a flag league so the Wolvies wont get their yellow pants dirty. My suggestion, have your linemen block better.

Terry Star21

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

I like DRobb and I like Brady Hoke, however Hoke is not playing his style football and not from his heart. He is playing the old coaches offense, and trying to do some adaptions - it is by NO MEANS what id best for Michigan (football). On the other hand the defense continues to impress me week after week. Although disgraceful football was shown from some players and support from the sidelines by msu, we or the should not dwell on those issues - but the B10 authorities should. There are shoulda's, coulda's and woulda's - but on that day the msu sparties were the champions. MgoBlueForTim............and coach Hoke, please bring your style of offense in to play - please !

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

Denard's not a quarterback, but he's the best option right now, and probably for next season as well. He's a good kid. Hopefully he'll learn more about the position and he'll be more effective next year.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:59 a.m. Enough already with the articles about MSU's dirty play on saturday. It's been 3 days of articles relating to Moo's thuggish behavior. Yes, they played a dispicable game, but they still outplayed us and beat us. They just did it with a lack of honor. I can't believe how much this group on here sounds like a bunch of whiners. If you have a complaint, make it once then put it to bed. The coaches and team have quietly placed last saturday in their memory banks. Let's see how they react next year. In the meantime, let's move on and place our focus on the remaining schedule.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

The fact that MSU played like criminal thugs after the whistle is a reflection of who they really are as people and what their coaches allow and teach. A bunch of thugs! As far as Drob as QB. Anyone who doesn't see that this kid is adjusting to a new offense is not paying attention. Denard is the best athlete in all of college football and he happens to be a decent passer. No , he is not Peyton Manning. Never will be. My issue is not with the struggling QB, but more so with the coaches who are not putting him in position to be successful. Let's see, no screens? No roll outs with run /pass option? no play action from under center? And if you really pay attention, you'll see two other things. 1. Our offensive line got their butts kicked. 2. Our receivers did not make hot reads when the MSU corners blitzed. Keep your faith! You know MSU will choke away any chance at winning this division. Michigan will be back, Denard will be back. And we will all be singing his praises once again. This is the same Denard who brought us back against Notre Dame and Northwestern this year. Remember???????? GO BLUE!


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : midnight

Oh, we play action passed on 4 and inches and got sacked. Bad play calling by Borges, who one announcer during NW (I think) was called a genius. So far, he's been pedestrian with this offense at best. At worst, he's called bonehead plays in more than a few games. Still, Robinson is no threat in the passing game so teams just stack up against us


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

That stunt Gholston did when he snapped the neck is already criminal in nature. Those acts should not be tolerated by Dantonio, MSU, Big Ten and the NCAA. I do not know why until now there is no action. We play sports to promote sportsmanship (hence the name sports) not to act like gangsters in a gang war. Gholston, Dantonio and MSU should be punished for that incident.

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

heartbreak. Dantonio proably pulled out some old films of Reynold's mugging of Wisconsin's Sorge, in 2004, and said he expected Gohlstin to beat that.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

Wow so the new thug U in the Big Ten is now MSU after Tressel (who is Dantonio's former boss) was fired for protecting and proprgating that culture in OSU. The twisting of the neck thing (whoever does it) and the coaches who promote that mentality should be punished.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:51 a.m.

Let's not let Narduzzi, the D-coordinator off the hook. He proclaimed publicly that he wants 60 minutes of unsportsmanlike conduct. Just making that statement should get him suspended, for flouting the rules. We all know what happens to a coach if they criticize an official. Why does the B10 not have a tougher policy if these same coaches publicly advocate breaking well known football rules and safety issues?

Matt Patercsak

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

FULLBACKS FULLBACKS FULLBACKS!!!!! here me out. if we intend on creating any sort of offensive rhythm we have to start with a confident running game. but even before we do that, we must put together nuts and bolts. I have not seen a gaping hole once against a legitimate defense this year. and that is something that a team must be able to do once and a while. our line is our line. call them undersized, misrecruits or what have you, what we dont have, and need, is a skull crushing, back breaking, vertebrae reducing fullback who can create holes where there are none. i know McColgan has been out, but even so, he's only like 235-240 and isnt very explosive. MSU's todd andseron is 260 and mean as hell, and their redshirt freshman Niko Palazeti (Novi CC) is 250 with great feet. even if the line doesnt get a good push you still have a beast-o-saurus coming at great pad level to clear out any OCJ (opposite colored jerseys). MSU's anderson came out of necessity because MSU lacked a FB and needed one, so they converted him from d-end. is there no one on the team capable fulfilling such a role? an improved, and furthermore 'nasty' running game, would take so much off of denard, in that we could implement those old RR bubble screens to compliment said running game. and evolve from there. at this point, i like the way MSU plays football (hold the dirtiness). they utilize beef, and punish defenses with size and strength. I hope we can find a fullback sometime soon, and I hope the coaches realize the potential of Thomas Rawls being 5'10 219. I dream of a day when we spearhead through quality defenses and punish linebackers. but until then, we need to get pret-ty critical of exactly where we are. We got a wakeup call, are we going to answer it? or lay and bed and take the next one...


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

i'd look forward to busting up sparty's QB next year in much the same fashion. "whistle? what whistle??" little brother needs to be put back into their place soon. here's to BH turning up the recruiting fires a bit and bring in the type of D that propelled UM to the top in years past. i'm sick of the ag college fans crowing about their own personal national championship game every october. time to slap their teeth back into their throats, brady. make it happen.

Matt Patercsak

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

I hear you brother. I hope this recruiting week is effective. but one thing is for certain, right now, MSUs place is right where they deserve to be. they pounded us hard. i liked how our players didnt get too chippy with the dirtiness either. but aside from that, it appears that MSU has moved up a few notches on our priority list, and "their place" is the closest its been to our place in 60 years. we now have 2 arch rivals. equally as important. equally as relevant.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

Denard struggles as a passer. He must improve and show consistency for the remainder of the season. Denard did not cost us the game vs MSU. As noted in many articles since, MSU was dominant on both sides of the ball. The many fans throwing Denard under bus is an understatement and really bothers me. He wears the winged helmut and as we saw, will sacrific his body for the Maize and Blue. The fans aren't looking for effort, they want results. So be it. If and when the coaching staff feels Denard is not worthy of being a starting QB, then they will make a change. It is equally amazing how these same fans can second guess the coaching staff. OK, many of them did a good job of that when Rich Rod was the coach, but to assume they know better this time around is rather silly. Unless they played college football, they can then make some rational statements. Remember in 2007 the poor start Chad Henne had, and the fans wanted Ryan Mallet and before that...John Navarre.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

The point XTR makes is that DRobinson has never strung together quality games against quality competition. In three years, he's shown that he's only more than okay against the UMasses and the directionals -- and even then he throws a couple of picks. Let's not insult Chad Henne or Tom Brady with your rationalization. Henne had an injury that year, and as far as I remember, Navarre was never wanted by anyone. The biggest difference between Mallet's mistakes and Robinson's: DR hasn't grown an ounce as a passer in three years. Mallet made freshman mistakes that he busted through by the time he left Arkansas. Robinson continues to make the same errant throws when pressured or when not. I've never seen a QB who can throw for less than 125 in a majority of the games still be seen as some kind of amazing guy we aren't giving the benefit of the doubt. I want a QB who can consistently get other players involved in the game. Our RBs and our WRs and our TEs never get the ball because the coaches are still too infatuated with his running skills, and are hoping he'll be able to put together his passing game. Fans can be rationale, and pragmatic. We get a Michigan Man at HC and all of the sudden he's infallible, and don't criticize him. Well, if the coaches had complete faith in Robinson they wouldn't be integrating more and more of Gardner. To think otherwise is to be a complete homer. Devin Gardner made a few throws that prove 1. Is in need of game experience to get timing and to not miss open reads, but 2. He can make accurate Pro-level throws that Robinson cannot. His rollout strike, and his timing out patterns were Brady-esque.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

To XTR: The point I am trying to make is that fans are willing throw any Michigan QB under the bus when any of them are having a stretch of sub par performances. The sad part is that Chad Henne was in his Senior year when the fan were clammering for Ryan Mallet during those first two (ugly) games of the season. John Navarre was on the fans hot seat nealy ALL of his career. It is apparent that we go through this QB criticism quite often and it will continue. When Devin Gardner messes up, then the fans will want to see Shane Morris, in 2013. This is nothing new but it is sad to see.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Errr, Denard is not a new QB bro. He has 20 starts as experience in and around the Big Ten plus a bowlgame. He has wins against Indiana, Purdue, Tate won the Illinois game, Minnesota and Northwestern and nothing else. MSU, Iowa, PSU, Wisco and OSU are all eggnogs. Chad Henne, Tom Brady and even John Navarre were gunning for BT championships and has beaten their rivals in comparable game experience. Also, none of them run as fast as Denard, they were just calm under pressure and had very good passing games.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

I was always under the impression that quarterbacks were supposed to throw the ball, hopefully with some degree of accuracy, not just chuck it and hope for the best. Maybe he just can't see over the linemen?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:26 a.m.

Yup, I also thought that Hoke coming in would use him more like a Percy Harvin type of stud and make another QB as the passer. That would be more of a dangerous combo instead of Shoelace doing everything and we have seen it last year against decent defenses and we it again last Saturday. Michigan has no passing threat. Devin Gardner started in 0 games, Denard has 20 starts, the staff should make some time for DG before they can judge his quality as a QB, as of now, DG was never allowed to mature.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

Oh, I swallowed that pill a few years ago. I thought they should have made him a corner back or receiver last year. Devon shows at least some flashes of potential. The kids decisions were not very good, but it isn't fair to judge him coming off the bench like that.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Hard pill to swallow but Denard is not a QB, he is a runner and not a passer.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

..the Tressel-ite, his ASSt coaches, players and sparty fans are disgraced by saturdays show of "football"...but they are proud of it and still bragging about it on monday.. penn state used the same technique to slow down Denard last year.. he has proven that he cannot be contained for 60 the solution: body slam him after the whistle and try to break his neck by snatching his head to the side by the facemask!.. AFTER the whistle.. that is as dirty as you can get and could end a talented players career..Denard is hurt and it has little to do with spartys play between the whistles, 6 personal fouls in one game?? who coaches that??.. still..4th and inches.. Run The Ball! Go Blue! v


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:12 a.m.

At this time next week, MSU will be 5-2 and will be ranked lower than UM in both AP and in the BCS. lol


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

Like I said in another article: Hoke, remember that game.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

If I were Denard's parents, I would be raising some serious questions to a whole lot of people for what Gholston did. Play hard, played rugged and if someone gets hurt, that part of the game. But to deliberate set out to injure someone, possibly paralyzed them, is uncalled for. Why the refs allowed this to happen and it was so blatant, and MSU coaches encouraged it, is unbelievable. I have always supported out state teams but after what MSU done, I hope Wisconsin wear them out.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

Wow, "Denard's parents?" You're making Michigan sound like a bunch of wimps. Yes, there were cheap shots, but let's not cry about it. Hoke said before the game this will be the most physical game of the season, and it seemed to be just that. Next year, Michigan has to up their physicality. Let the refs and the league work out the penalties.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 8:45 a.m.

Really? you want Denards Mom to call the police because........... Geeese man, thuink about what you are saying. Maybe Denards mom will make him quit football and play Soccer instead. You ever watch UFC? Ive seen guys hang off another guys head with his feet off the ground, Do you know how much force it would take to "paralyze" someone? it sure wouldnt be because of the jerk of the face mask. Im just mad nobody went after #2, but we dont have a goon anymore, havent had one in 6 or 7 years........... Too bad.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

MSU encouraging those things is outright crazy and unbelievable. Employees of a Big Ten program promoting those criminal actions.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Well I guess we all needed another team to replace Miami as a program known for, how shall we say it, notoriety? Seems a shame it may be a state supported institution, at least Miami was a private school


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

I do not understand why MSU did not get more severe penalties for their actions, particularly the face mask call. Also, I thought celebrating on the way to a touchdown was supposed to disallow the touchdown. Were the refs afraid of MSU since they were at MSU?