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Posted on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson chases NCAA record held by former Air Force QB Beau Morgan

By Pete Bigelow


Former Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan (above) holds the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a season by a QB. Michigan's Denard Robinson is 145 yards shy of his mark with three games remaining.

Photo courtesy Air Force Academy

In his job as a studio analyst for the Mountain West Sports Network, Beau Morgan doesn’t watch many football highlights from Big Ten country.

Still, it’s been hard for him to ignore Denard Robinson.

“He’s just been a spectacular player,” Morgan said Thursday. “He’s getting huge chunks of yardage, and using his speed in a system that’s perfect for his skills.”

Beau knows dual-threat quarterbacks.

As the leader of the Air Force offense in the mid-1990s, he perfected the team’s triple-option offense. As a senior in 1996, he ran it so well that he set the NCAA's FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season.

Fifteen seasons later, that mark of 1,494 stands.

Robinson, currently the nation’s leading rusher, could surpass it as early as this Saturday when the Wolverines face Purdue (12:01 p.m., Big Ten Network) at Ross-Ade Stadium.

With 1,349 rushing yards, Robinson trails Morgan by 145 yards. Through nine games, Robinson is averaging 149.9 yards per game.

Concussion-like symptoms sidelined him for the fourth quarter and three overtime periods against Illinois last week, but Michigan coaches expect Robinson to start Saturday.

Robinson has run for at least 100 yards in seven of nine games this season and rushed for more than 145 yards four times. Even if he misses the mark this weekend, he’ll presumably have three more chances to reach it in two remaining regular-season games and a bowl appearance.

“I wish him the best,” Morgan said. “I hope he does break it. From my perspective, it would be an honor for someone of that caliber to take it over.”

For Morgan, who spends most of his time working as a senior vice president for Colorado-based Woodmoor Group, the surprise isn’t that Robinson has the record in his sights. It’s that no one has challenged it sooner.

Since he set the record, not only have college teams added a 12th game to their schedules, the spread offense has proliferated throughout college football, placing an emphasis on quarterbacks who can run.

It wasn’t that way when Morgan started his college career.

Much like Robinson, most schools viewed him as an athlete more than a quarterback during the recruiting process. But he was determined to play quarterback. He had a handful of options in Syracuse, Vanderbilt and the service academies.

In Fisher DeBerry’s offense at Air Force, he found a home, albeit one where he needed to adjust to a more complex passing game at the college level, as well as the rigors of carrying 25 times per game.

“The challenge is to have the aggressive mindset that you want to run the ball and, at the same time, on the next play, having the composure and discernment to sit in the pocket and deliver a strike,” he said.

“Those are two different mentalities, and you have to mentally have some flexibility in switching back and forth.”

Morgan had that flexibility, carrying 594 times for 3,379 times over the course of his career. He became the first player in NCAA history to rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a single season twice.

He paid a price for being the workhorse, one that will sound familiar to Michigan fans already accustomed to watching Robinson’s weekly encounters with team trainers. “The fact is you’re going to take a beating along the way,” Morgan said. “I can remember toward the end of my senior year, I didn’t practice a whole lot. I had a hamstring injury. Something else came up. There were a couple of weeks where I barely took any reps.”

Robinson can empathize. Although he’s started all nine games for Michigan this year, he’s only completed three full games. He’s played through lingering knee and shoulder injuries, and added dizziness to his medical list last week.

In that sense, Robinson’s pursuit of the record is about staying on the field as much as it is accumulating the statistics.

“It’s almost a test of endurance,” Morgan said.

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


Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 5:14 p.m.

That's my point, tbf. Why qualify the record for rushing yardage? Denard is being used as Michigan's primary running back, therefore breaking a record where he's being compared to a group that runs far less often is a little pointless. The Division I-A record for rushing yards in a season is 2,628. For Division II, it's held by New England's current backup - 2,756. And it's 2,790 for all NCAA levels.


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

DRob breaking the record will depend on the defenses he faces, and if he remains healthy. He would have already broken it if he had not sat out due to injuries. His running ability opens up the passing and vice versa. Illinois supposedly had a good defense and DRob ate it for lunch. Win/loss depends on how many stops the defense makes.

Mark Edwards

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

To Edward R Murrow's Ghost: you were wearing blue sox in gym class. Do you really think you know more about player personnel, schemes, injuries ect than the staff at M who has worked 15 or so hours a day for 12 months a year for many many yrs? You are sitting in row 75 with a belly full of beer for three hours a few Saturdays a yr. and you know more than the staff? You are also an expert on basketball, Tigers ect. You might even be as smart as the one media member who got a job leading a sports team---what was that other genius name? Oh yeah, Matt Millan


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

Denard easily breaks this record in the next 3 games, but I really don't see him re-breaking it next season. If the offense has an explosive running back, he wouldn't carry more than 14-15 times a game. Meaning he just wouldn't get the carries to break it when and if a RB steps up. Between the RB's we have and Dee Hart coming in the spring next year, somebody HAS TO step up.


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

Macabre -- Rushing yards by a QB are irrelevant? Last time I checked they all count the same whether they were generated by a RB, WR, QB, TE, FB or an offensive lineman.


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

its to bad some of these negative poster's can't see that when the D catches up to the O how great this team will be... certainly not the misfit poster's...GO BLUE...


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

Its too bad the defense isn't as effective as the offense. we would be undefeated right now.


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

Well he threw for over 300 yards last week so maybe the coaches know how to use him.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

Wouldn't it be nice if football games were decided by who set the most arbitrary records (rushing yards for quarterbacks, for example, is about as relevant as field goals for defensive tackles).

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

Pete, Your writing is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous UM football writer. Keep up the good work!

Sean T.

Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 8:19 p.m.

I'd never say never when it comes to records, there are so many tremendous athletes groomed everyday. DR "is" more likely to break his own record next year though.


Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 7:02 p.m.

I didn't realize he was this close already. Great job DR.


Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

DR will break the record against Purdue. And it will be many years before another player breaks his record. Denard himself may very well break his own record next year - we'll see.