Michigan football coach Brady Hoke: Quarterbacks are picking up the offense
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
For the second consecutive off-season, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is studying for a new role.
Last year, he made strides from being essentially a run-only quarterback in Rich Rodriguez’ read-option offense to a dual-threat Heisman Trophy candidate. This year, with Rodriguez gone, Robinson must learn to become a drop-back passer for the first time in college.
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said, for the most part, Robinson's transition is going well.
“Both of them have done a good job,” Hoke said, referring to Robinson and sophomore Devin Gardner. “You look at the different things, a little bit more under center, obviously, and the ball mechanics and footwork.”
Besides Robinson’s actual positioning at the start of plays, the biggest difference for him might be the footwork. In his old offense, Robinson would often have to take one or two steps before either handing the ball to a running back or making a decision in Rodriguez’ offense.
Now, he has to deal with five-step drops, seven-step drops and intricate play-action schemes.
All of this for a player who completed 182 of 291 passes last year for 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while also running for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns. But Hoke seemed pleased with his quarterback’s transition.
“There’s an issue with the footwork at times,” Hoke said. “You go into drop-off, play-action, something like that. But both of those guys have handled it really well.”
And occasionally, Robinson has shown the burst and explosiveness he did last season when he became the all-time single-season rusher for a quarterback and one of the country’s most exciting players.
“Once in a while,” Hoke said. “It’s no fun being a defensive lineman rushing a drop-back passer and you leave a little crease in there and he can go get it.”
Robinson’s advancement also coincides with how much of the offense coordinator Al Borges can install.
Hoke estimated Wednesday his staff will put in between 50 to 60 percent of Borges’ offensive plan by the end of spring practice on April 16 with the spring game that won’t really be an actual game.
From there, Michigan will have the preseason to catch up with the rest.
“I think Al would be happy getting 60, maybe 65 percent of it in,” Hoke said. “And the guys have done a good job.”