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Posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson back to 100 percent entering Gator Bowl

By Pete Bigelow

Thumbnail image for DENARD-ROBINSON-1.jpg

Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson says he's 100 percent healthy and ready to play Saturday against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.

Had Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson hypothetically envisioned this Gator Bowl matchup three years ago, he would have bet he’d be on the opposing sideline.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, then a Florida assistant coach, had all but convinced the Deerfield Beach, Fla., native to play college ball in Gainesville.

“I basically committed to him,” Robinson said Tuesday amid preparations for the Gator Bowl on Saturday. “Something like that. I thought, ‘I’m probably going to be his quarterback someday.’”

It didn’t happen quite like that.

Robinson’s interest in Mullen waned when the offensive coordinator took the head-coaching job at Mississippi State, and his interest in Florida tailed off when Michigan emerged.

“Better opportunity,” Robinson said. “Better school, I guess.”

Robinson’s choice, coupled with Mullen’s handiwork in Starkville, put the two on crossed paths. They’ll meet Saturday (1:30 p.m., ESPN2) at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville.

For Robinson, the game presents a chance to showcase his speed one more time in what’s been a breakthrough season.

A true sophomore, he sidestepped questions Tuesday about the toll an assortment of injuries took throughout the season. At various times, Robinson suffered from a bruised knee, an injured shoulder and concussion-like symptoms. “He’s not banged up anymore,” receiver Roy Roundtree said. “He’s ready to go and he’s just getting the offense ready.”

Robinson didn’t divulge how much of an impact the injuries had on his performance, but he said while speaking at the team’s hotel that he was now “100 percent.”

Video from

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 10:54 p.m.

Ben, I also support RR but only if there is a change on the D. IMO I think the O would be so much better against the top Big Ten teams if they knew they had a D that could stop the other team. I think they go on the field knowing they have to score on every down and they can't relax and play a good game. IMO they are trying to hard because they know the D isn't going to be any help. Go Blue and Go Big Ten. 2 wins so far only 6 to go.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 10:33 p.m.

I drove down from Grand Haven Monday and have been hanging out all week with some friends in the Jacksonville area. Today I was at The Team's practice at Jacksonville University and Denard looked GEAT....Odoms looked pretty good too - I'm pretty sure he will play in the game. The team as a whole looked loose but focused which is what you want going into a game such as this. Rich Rod said to the team at the end of practice, "Ok, we have had some fun, but now is the time where we get serious and focus on our task at hand gentlemen." He went on to talk about the opportunity to showcase the teams hard work and how proud of them all he was. You could hear a mouse walk across the field while coach spoke, every eye was was focused on him as coach spoke, and right before the team left for the day Rich Rod said, "Remember when you are out and about today that you are representing the University of Michigan....make us and them proud." This was followed by every player saying, "Yes sir!" It was a pretty cool thing to see. I can't wait for the game on Saturday...I'll be in the 4th row of the north end zone at Everbank Field cheering on the Maize and Blue with all my might.

The Ben

Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 10:16 p.m.

Edward R. Murrow's Ghost: "Please excuse my earlier smarmy post. I had mis-identified you as being one of those who appear unable to separate loyalty to the team from loyalty to RichRod. Clearly that is not the case." This is what made me take a step back and be more honest about where I was coming from. I realized that I was dragging Lloyd Carr into the mud as a way to defend RichRod. And that is offensive. I can see why that struck a nerve with everyone. In the end, for RichRod to stay on, Brandon would basically have to chalk up the first three years to "learning on the job." Which is an awful lot of faith to put in someone who is at the reins of the winningest program in college football. And, while I do have the faith that he would learn from his mistakes and right the ship, there is a severe lack of evidence on the field to prove me right. And that, my friends, is why this is a losing battle for guys like me. But... I hope you all are right. Because I think next year was going to be a lot of fun. Go Blue!


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 5:32 p.m.

Ben, as one who has wondered where you were coming from, your last post was humbling, for me. I hope that when, (notice I didn't say 'if', been there, done that) I'm on the losing end of landslide I will have the spine to stand tall and state what I think, like you have. PU MSU, who I have missed recently, defended his pro-RR stance with ideas, and logic, and didn't back down. But he also would acknowledge when someone made a point. That's what this is suppose to be about, exchanging ideas (with a large amount of ego on the side), where we think Michigan football needs to go. Sometimes reality gets in the way but there are some who don't like it when facts and history get in the way. Happy New Year and Go Blue.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

Ben "I can admit that I am a fan of RichRod, and it is causing me to grasp at straws. I love the offense that he runs and I think it's where the future of college football lies. I'm honestly willing to wait 5 years for the defense to catch up, if that's what it takes. But the beating that I've taken on here tells me that I took it too far when looking for reasons why he has failed. While I maintain that Michigan had problems defensively before he arrived (regardless of the rankings), I can't argue against the fact that he has let the defense fall to a level that I didn't even think was possible at Michigan... I'm still willing to ignore the on-field results and think about potential. But, then again, I'm a very patient person." I must say that I have respect for you for what you have said. You stated your position honestly, and it is refreshing to hear someone that is an RR supporter be realistic in assessing where we are at in our program, and where you think it can be in the future. Personally I think these conversations would be so much better if more people would just stop "grasping at straws" and just be honest and realistic, instead of ripping quality & successful men like LC or JH or Bo, or blaming others, or making excuses.

Sean T.

Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

It takes a lot to admit that Ben. There are many others that should swallow their pride and step back and look at our program for what it is. They should also admit to themselves who is responsible for our fall and why we have NCAA violations, poor conference record and two-thirds short of a real football team.

The Ben

Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

@GoblueinNE_PA Thanks. I can admit that I am a fan of RichRod, and it is causing me to grasp at straws. I love the offense that he runs and I think it's where the future of college football lies. I'm honestly willing to wait 5 years for the defense to catch up, if that's what it takes. But the beating that I've taken on here tells me that I took it too far when looking for reasons why he has failed. While I maintain that Michigan had problems defensively before he arrived (regardless of the rankings), I can't argue against the fact that he has let the defense fall to a level that I didn't even think was possible at Michigan. I think where I part ways with most of you is that I look at all of the things that have worked against RichRod during these three years (some self-inflicted, I know), and I'm still willing to ignore the on-field results and think about potential. But, then again, I'm a very patient person. I hate it that he will be gone without ever coaching an experienced team, with an experienced quarterback, and some upperclassmen on defense. To me, underachieving is the worst sin in the coaching world. RichRod hasn't even had his chance to underachieve yet. But, it's probably not gonna matter. I'm going to be on the losing end of this debate. And if I can't have RichRod, Harbaugh is a pretty good consolation prize.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

Guys, you need to cut Ben some slack here. As he points out, he's a fan of RichRod. There's no fault in that. I can respect that. If you like the guy, that's great, just admit that's where your loyalties lie and we can have a proper discussion. The issue is with the other folks that don't have the intestinal fortitude to admit it.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 1:35 p.m.

tulsatom, I was exactly where you were after RR's 1st year, and also after his 2nd year. I did not start out against RR, rather I was hopeful that he would do what he and others were saying he could and would do. I was like you before this year too, hopeful that the "we're almost there" pitch was true. But after the MSU and Iowa games it started to look like the same old disappointment. Then we lost to PSU, a team we should have been able to beat. Even before the Wiscy and OSU games I had pretty much lost any hope that things were going to improve, because we even looked bad in the wins vs Purdue and Illinois. And then the Wiscy & OSU games confirmed the worst. At the end of RR's 3rd year we are far from being competitive against good BT teams and other good teams around the country. You want to be supportive, and you really want to have hope and continue to have it, but at some point you have to face reality and do what you have to do in order to make things better and move on.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

I have to pile on...wins in the Big Ten don't mean a lot? Even if you are talking about the national reputation of the conference, as a Michigan fan, how can you hold that opinion? Most credible sports news media rate the Big Ten among the top three conferences, if not top two, but even if it was the worst conference, as a fan, are the Big Ten games not the most important games to you, against rivals and team's that Michigan has decades of history with? You are really digging deep. Drink the kool-aid while you still can. The bar is a-closing soon. Go Blue


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

Missionbrazil, I couldn't agree with you more. U-M and its fans deserve better than what we've gotten over the past three years. The first year was a nightmare (3-9) but I was buying into the "Be patient until RR is able to get his type of players here" talk by his supporters. I was less patient last year with the 5-7 team but still bought into the "We're almost there" talk. I assumed 2010 would be the breakout year for U-M with at least a 9-3 record and a top-tier finish in the Big Ten. Well, it didn't happen, snf the defense and special teams were worse than ever, and all we heard from the coaching staff was excuse after excuse. Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record SAYS you are". A three year Big Ten record of six wins and eighteen losses plus NCAA sanctons for the first time ever says a lot about this coaching staff and it's not very flattering.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

Ben "Little-known fact: The decline of Michigan's defense started against Syracuse in 1998... My point? RichRod walked into an absolute mess on defense. He hasn't fixed it yet, but he is not completely responsible for it, either. Ben are you serious? Another statement or opinion by an RR supporter without anything to back it up. Under LC our D was rated # 23 in the country (Pts/game) in 2007, # 8 in 2006, # 22 in 2005, # 38 in 2004, # 7 in 2003. The average rating for our D for the last 5 years under LC was 20th in the country. RR's D ratings: # 83 in 2008, # 80 in 2009, and # 102 in 2010; the average is 88th in the country. We dropped from an average of 20th in the nation to an average rating of 88th. How in the world can you make a statement like you did? The TRUTH, as in truth backed up by facts & stats, is that our D has dropped off in a terrible way since RR took over... LC had nothing to do with the D dropping off so badly... his D's were FAR better than RR's. That is all on RR. "Wins in the Big Ten don't mean a lot..." That explains alot about why you like RR, because it doesn't matter to you that OSU, Wiscy, MSU, PSU, Iowa keep beating us, and beating us badly. I guess it doesn't matter to you that we've had BT seasons of 2-6, 1-7, and 3-5 under RR, since the BT is irrelevant to you. But the BT is a big deal to the players on the team, and also to the growing number of people who want RR gone and who want a new HC, so that we can start winning again in the BT and then move on to better things after that. You can't win the NC if at first you can't even have a winning record in the BT.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Denard Robinson on his decision to go to UM instead of Florida or Mississippi State, " Better school, I guess". Sounds like he hasn't yet drank the UM kool-aid.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

A healthy DRob gives us a legitimate shot at out scoring MSU in this game. I'm not really into the 56-52 shootouts that some here seem to think are the way of the future, but I'll take the win how ever we can get it. It would be nice to win this game so that RichRod can go out as something other than a complete and utter failure. A bowl win to cap off his tenure is probably like putting a rose on a manure pile, but it might at least provide one fond memory of the guy.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Hey, I finally agree 100% with one of Tater's postings. Denard is one of the classiest players I've seen in awhile and I'd take him over Pryor any day, too. He's also loaded with talent so long as his body holds up from the hits.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

"RR UM Season of Crystal 2011-2012 Tour begins in 4 short days!" Yep, that is about the right timing for DB to send him out into the ice and snow on his quest for a job.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

"strong programs don't lose to Appy St." To the Koolaid drinkers, you are pointing out ONE anomoly (like your fool losing to Toledo, right?). However, your fool has NEVER BEATEN most Big Ten teams...that is M-O-S-T, MOST of them. In THREE years.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

While Ben's fantasy about poor Michigan defenses is quite compelling for the anti-Wolverine crowd, it bears little resemblance to reality. RichRod has allowed 37 points per game with his approach. Carr allowed less than 21 in ten of his 13 seasons. It was usually ranked among the best in the country. I'm not claiming Carr was perfect, but he did bring good athletes in, year after year, and left the program as one of college football's best. As for the Big Ten being irrelevant? The league has more BCS at-large bids than any other conference. There are usually one or two Big Ten teams in the National Championship discussion late in the year. Before RichRod took over, Michigan was often in that discussion. It's time to get a real coach in here. Before the damage is too great to recover from. RichRod is becoming to Michigan what the NCAA death penalty was to SMU.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

I'm sure the apologists will blame everyone but their hero, but losing in-state Anthony Zettel to Penn State is unacceptable. This was already shaping up as the worst recruiting class since the pre-Bo days, and RichRod needed to land Zettel, who was as sure a thing as you get in recruiting these days. That's what you get when you're a coach with only one trick. Denard fills his quarterback role quite nicely, but he's not putting good athletes around Denard.


Wed, Dec 29, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Fully agree with you there tater. You can keep the Lebron twittering primadonna anyday and it does surprise me just how the buckeyes can still maintain the great base of team players they have every season. Ben, there's really been a talent issue for the wolverines. Beating a more talented team (like OSU) with fundamentals and mistake free play brings an affection and sense of pride. It was particularly tough reading where the badgers players were complaining about dirty hits and coach Beilema just telling them to go out and teach us how to play football- which they did all day long as we all know. We abandoned the idea that winning the Big Ten is all there is for looking beyond to national championships. Was the price worth it? Do we end it now? No way, yet. The dominate D left a generation ago and became bend-don't-break and now it's just broke. Another talent void that has to be filled and this game will be the tell. A victory over one of the SEC's best is super important here and Denard with his step back is what we will need (along with recievers catching the ball!) and if this D can win, then it looks like a great next season is a reasonable expectation.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 10:42 p.m.

You know, you don't even have to play the YouTube video to see what a great kid DRob is---he just radiates something special. Glad he's 100%.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 10:22 p.m.

I will say to you Ben, though, that I still have nightmares about what Donovan did to M that nice beautiful day in Ann Arbor years ago. I still root against him because of that!! (Of course, Dixon I think even looked better in 07). I remember that SU seemed to gain 7 yards every time they ran a play. And I remember thinking that the M team quit that day. I give Carr credit for regrouping. That team had just come off the championship and lost Woodson, and they were just shellshocked. Brady looked like a deer in the headlights that game. (Though Brady is not the reason that we lost to ND or to SU--the defense sucked in both of those games). Thanks a lot for giving me another night of 'heartbreak' and nightmares. LOL.

The Ben

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 9:33 p.m.

@HearbreakM: I can't really argue with much of what you said. My impression of Michigan's D since 1997 and before RichRod was that it was only successful against schemes that it matched up well against. Getting into the heart of the Big Ten schedule was usually a saving grace, because many of the opponents were pro-style teams that played right into UM's strength, which was usually a solid, fundamentally sound front seven. Once UM started playing Iowa, Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin, etc, the defense suddenly looked much better. While they did improve somewhat during the year, I think it helped that they were facing teams that weren't as capable of exposing the weaknesses. That being said, my gripes about UM's defense not keeping up with the times aren't necessarily an excuse for RichRod. You are correct about that. I can admit that I'm just a fan of RichRod and apparently one of the last true holdouts. A dying breed. Patience and understanding are a pretty tough sell in college football, and I suppose that's understandable.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

It is good to see Denard at 100%. I hope he and the receivers are ready to have a good game passing because Miss State is going to stack the line of scrimmage to take away Denard's running game and they have the athletes to keep him hemmed in. His ability to pass and the ability of the offensive line to protect for him may decide the game.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 8:48 p.m.

@Ben: I think you are right on about Donovan McNabb totally exposed our defense, but I think also that the Syracuse loss of 1998 is very similar to the Oregon demolition of 2007. Both came after bad losses (ND in 1998 after dominating first half but had only 7-6 lead or something like that, App St in 2007), both losses had opponents with very well executed fast offenses, and both games inevitably had big time defensive let downs after heartbreaking losses. I don't blame that for the losses totally, but it sure did not help. I do think in those 2 cases, the teams were just not prepared and the first loss of each season certainly led to a poor performance in game 2. But in both seasons, the coaches regrouped, and the teams improved having good years. I think both years, the teams went to the Orlando bowl (1999 v. Arkansas and 2008 v. Florida). Both bowl wins, too. So let's not put too much stock in that statement, "defense has stunk since then". The quick offenses have given us fits for years, from Purdue in the mid 90s, to NW and Purdue in 2000, to OSU in mid 2000s and TX in 2005 Rose Bowl. But at no time was the defense pushed around like it has been under RR (witness the PSU, Wisconsin, UMass, ND games for examples). Ben: You are using the classic, blame somebody else for RR's problems. The minute he became coach, these players became his whether or not he recruited them. Bottom line: He has not coached this entire team well since he came and he has shown repeatedly that he does not do well in B10 football games. Potential may mean a little, but not a whole lot when results show nothing.

The Ben

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

Little-known fact: The decline of Michigan's defense started against Syracuse in 1998. Donovan McNabb embarrassed the slower Michigan defenders. Michigan hasn't stopped a speedy team or a spread team from outside the Big Ten since. Wins in the Big Ten don't mean a lot, considering that the Big Ten has been largely irrelevant on the national stage, save for the Buckeyes' fluke in 2002. My point? RichRod walked into an absolute mess on defense. He hasn't fixed it yet, but he is not completely responsible for it, either. Michigan hasn't had a DB who could take proper angles and wrap people up since Charles Woodson.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 7:56 p.m.

SERIOUSLY!!! All season long UM's so called fans have done nothing but whine about the coach and bad mouth some of the young players. You guys remind me of my grandchildren when they do not get their way. They think if they whine, pout and complain long enough, I'll change my mind, but they don't understand yet that, that's not how you resolve issues or accomplish the overall goal.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 7:50 p.m.

It's great news that DR is 100% entering this game, however, after the pounding he is going to take during this game he will not be 100% when it is over. He will need the off season to heal. By the way not one RR supporter has focused on any on field results to justify giving RR more time as HC.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 7:27 p.m.

marineblue & orlando... App. State was certainly a terrible loss, but one cannot judge entirely on one game. UM started that year 0-2 and yet finished 9-4 and 2nd in the BT, and also finished ranked # 18 in the nation, and beat 3 Top 25 teams that year. Va. Tech lost their first 2 games this year, including a bad loss to James Madison, but have won their final 11 games, including 3 wins over 3 Top 25 teams, and also won their conference. Good teams and winning programs overcome diversity and bad losses. In 2008 (RR's 1st year) we started 2-2, but then lost to Illinois and then inexplicably lost to Toledo (a 2-6 MAC team)... after that loss what happened, a turnaround? Did we overcome the adversity? We folded up and finished the season 1-5 after that game. Then we followed that up with a losing 2009 season and the worst BT season (1-7) in a long long time. And we still haven't turned it around under RR... 0 wins in 3 years vs teams that finished the year in the Top 25, 0 wins in 3 years against BT teams that finish with a BT winning record,... How is RR doing in overcoming adversity & bad losses compared to UM in 2007 and Va. Tech in 2010?

Sean T.

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

I'm not really sure when some of you became Michigan fans because you harp on the APP ST game as if it changed how Michigan played after that. To my knowledge they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made a run at the conference title and finished strong in the bowl game by beating the former national champs. But some how after the coaching change, there was a dramatic drop-off in wins, character, coaching, integrity and responsibility. App St may have been a stunner, but RR was the single most tragic entity to ever touch Ann Arbor.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 6:04 p.m.

we love you michigan.. we love you richrod...smash miss st. in the mouth saturday and shut everyone up..yeah right..nobody will shut up...and i agree, a strong program does not ever ever ever lose to appy st.. not ever....


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 5:44 p.m.

Mike Singletary should be cotacted. Who in the right mind would say no to him at a recruiting visit. Plus he brings intensity


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

strong programs don't lose to Appy St.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

Blu-n-Tpa "This explains why DB has been talking to this year's crop of commits and recruits waiting to see what's going to happen." I think the fact that DB is talking to recruits and their families is very interesting. To me it's almost like he's trying to assure them that if/when a change is made things will be done for the best and to get our program back to the winning tradition. Lorain "These players fully support the coaches, and they should!" Of course they support the coaches. Players are generally loyal, especially to those who gave them a scholarship. Plus they want a shot to play, so they'll be loyal to their coaches. However, they are athletes and competitors, and it is eating them up inside because they are getting beat up by OSU, Wiscy, MSU, PSU, Iowa,... it is tearing them up inside because their best finish in the last 3 years in the BT is 7th. They will quickly get over RR if a new HC comes in and turns the program around into the winning program it used to be. Guaranteed they will get over RR quickly if that happens.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

RR is building a strong program? Funny, for my whole life, UM HAD a strong program. Seems to me that RR is destroying a strong program. Considering his 3 years of futility has led to the 3 worst b10 records in decades.....Let's just say I would not buy a house from that guy if he were a construction dude.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

Who is this Cry babby you are referring to NoBowl4Blue?....Maybe you should consider changing your screen name considering Blue is in a bowl....

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 4:36 p.m.

Robinson, like many of these freshmen and sophs, are building a strong program under the direction of these coaches. If they can stay focused on the X's and O's they will succeed. They cannot afford to be distracted by the negativity in the media and the blogs. The defense will be next years 'great story', but the offense will continue to improve. These players fully support the coaches, and they should! Brandon understands the value of continuity, and in allowing these coaches to finish the task at hand. He will not pull the rug out from under them, in mid-stream. I look for BD to give RR a verbal vote of confidence after the bowl, win or lose. These kids will see that UM is, in fact, different than virtually all of the other programs out there. Not every player out there cares, of course, but the ones that have the 'right stuff', will continue to enroll here. Go Blue!


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

Please win Michigan and spare us another off-season of drama.


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 4:08 p.m.

DR is RR's only hope of keeping DB from canning him. If DR can't save Cry babys job will cry baby cry?


Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

For both sides of the RR/no RR debate this is very telling article, especially with whats going on in college football today. Good, very good, and great players are finding out just how fluid the recruiting business really is. DRob could be a Gator but the coach that was recruiting him changed teams, and then the Gator's HC is retiring again. Now you add his current teams' HC is on the bubble and he could have a new HC by next week. All of this within the last 23 months. This explains why DB has been talking to this year's crop of commits and recruits waiting to see what's going to happen. Get a kid who wants to play and attend the University of Michigan and it's a better fit for both. And that will add to the stability of the program in both the short and long run. Note: According to a blog site for Stanford 24 Cardinal players made the All Pac 10 teams, including honorably mention. The only way that could happen is that all three aspects of the football team are playing a high level of football. "To sleep, perhaps to dream." Of things to come.

Fly Wheel

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

Denard Robinson is 100% - so - we should assume that there are no excuses - and the Wolverines will go on to victory in the Gator Bowl and to an 8-5 season - except, of course, that dreaded UM DEFENSE!!