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Posted on Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson ironing out mechanics; next step is improving decision making in pro-style offense

By Kyle Meinke

Coaches say Denard Robinson is picking up the nuances of the pro-style offense. His mechanics have improved, and his pocket awareness is coming along.

Now, he must work on his decision making.

Michigan's star junior quarterback is "on schedule" in his development, offensive coordinator Al Borges said, but needs to show a little more discipline in the passing game.


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson will be expected to make tougher throws and his receivers will be running more nuanced routes in Al Borges' pro-style system.

Angela J. Cesere |

"He still has an occasional error," Borges said. "The thing about Denard is because he's so athletic, he can create. ... He has that ability. Now, he has to understand, and we're talking to him all the time about creating, yet not doing something that simply isn't there. Make plays, don't make miracles.

"As long as his judgement is good, he's deadly, because he can do so many things you don't draw up on the chalkboard."

Robinson's ability to run is lethal, as he showed last season when he racked up 1,702 rushing yards, an NCAA record for quarterbacks, and posted the most prolific offensive season in Michigan history. He also became the first quarterback to rush for 1,500 yards and pass for 1,500 yards in the same season.

Michigan finished eighth in the country in total offense last year largely because of what Robinson did with his feet, or the threat of that ability.

But there were times when he made poor decisions in the passing game, particularly against better defenses late in the season. After throwing only one interception in his first five games, he threw 10 in his final eight. That equates to one interception in 96 pass attempts in his first five games, and one every 19.5 passes thereafter.

He finished 182 of 291 passing for 2,570 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Robinson's mistakes could be amplified in the pro-style offense this year because he will be passing more. He averaged 22.4 pass attempts and 19.7 rushes last year. Borges has said he still will utilize Robinson's running ability, but certainly less than that.

Robinson also will be expected to make tougher throws, and his receivers will be running more nuanced routes in Borges' system.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Robinson has shown a lot of improvement since spring camp, but needs to exercise a little more restraint on passes over the middle.

"He's had two throws you wouldn't want to make late over the middle, where he could make some things happen with his feet and buy a little time," Hoke said. "You never want to throw the ball late over the middle, and that's kind of a standard rule."

Hoke said Robinson's best improvement has come in the subtleties of the position: Ball fakes, throwing mechanics, ball placement, timing and his footwork coming from under center and in the shotgun formation.

Footwork was expected to be one of the more challenging elements of the new offense for Robinson, but it appears he's picking it up quickly.

"It's much better," Borges said. "We're trying to get him to push the pocket a little more. Less bouncing, more pushing, which allows him to see better, but also run a little better. He's worked on that and we saw that (Wednesday).

"I'd say his growth has been really good."

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



Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

catty240. . . your 100% correct, there is NO comparison of dr to tp. . . dr has never lied, tried to cover-up or cheated! you must be so proud of tp. . . GO BLUE!!


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

Defense will be very good this year. We always had d talent, just been missing a d coach. Now we have it. Hard to imagine a better offense in the big ten, and with a much improved defense, hitting hard and concentrating on fundamentals, I call for a big 10 championship for Hoke in his first year. You won't have to wait long to be proud of this team.

Chad Williams

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 6:31 a.m.

Denard will be fine because he has the will and desire to get better. I remember his freshman year watching him play QB and thought RR was on drugs. Denard got better because he wanted too, he will get better in this offense because he wants to. What impressed me so much about the kid is that he is humble. After a 500 yard game against ND he didnt want to even give himself a pat on the back instead it was his teammates that he wanted people to be impressed with. He is a less vocal tim tebow, he leads by example. As any coach will say if your best player is your hardest worker your team is in good shape. Someone on the D needs to step up and be the leader of the defense. We hear how Denard has that respect in the huddle on the offense but who is that guy in the huddle on D.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

Let's hope DR is able to make the over the middle passes soon enough, we don't need to worry about any other team, we need to focus on our own team. Trolls can come in here and make moronic statements all they want, it doesn't matter in the end. Obviously they're worried, otherwise they wouldn't be taking the time to comment and try to make us feel bad about our team. As I have stated a few times previously, the last 3 years jaded many fans into a lack of confidence and wonderment concerning this years team. I believe that chapter has ended and a brand new, wonderful one is starting. We shall see on the field soon enough, Go Blue for TiM!!!


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

I agree.........


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Getting back to the point of the article ... Check out this interesting analysis of San Diego State's offensive play against TCU last year: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> By all rights TCU should have thumped SDSU ... TCU had a great offense *and* a terrific defense. Yet Hoke and Borges used a fair amount of creativity to keep the score relatively close.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

That's a good reference DonAZ ... BH, Borges, and SDSU nearly pulled off the upset, AT TCU, after falling way behind. And they put up alot of points on one of the country's best D's.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

The point is that SDSU didn't fold up after being down 37-14. The point is that SDSU found a way to score 35 points against the #1 scoring defense and #1 total defense in the country. The point of the linked post was that Hoke and Borges have the ability to be creative offensively. The point of my post was to set some context around all this concern about Denard Robinson and Borges's offense ... and to change the discussion away from the silly chatter about OSU. *sigh*

Chad Williams

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 6:22 a.m.

Oh please, at one point sdsu was down 3 scores in the second half only a flurry in the 4th made the game close. Tcu got comfy lead then crusied to a win that only looked close, i saw the game on Versus network and turned at halftime. Hoke still has not won a marque game. Remember the MAC champ game his 12-0 ball state team blew it. Never beat the top dogs in the MWC.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

Very good scheme they put together.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:07 p.m.

Ohio State Sockeyes days are over ladies, you may and I said may have a decent year this year but you girls glory years have come to an end!!!!!!!!!!Now you also got the Huskers that are now gonna make minced meat out of your girlscout recruit leftovers that noone else will want since Michigan recruiting is back on top. The Maize N Blue is back, this year will be an adjustment process and then it's all down hill after that.Hail to The Victors, Sockeyes hit the sack ladies..........


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

CUTTY240 are you serious...have you not done your research. Michigan is leading the Big10 bu a long shot in 2012 recruiting class, #4 in the nation you clown. And just to let you know ohio state recruits are leaving and commiting to Michigan in flocks. So if you have half a brain then that would mean that the wolverines are not far from dancing all over your red and white uniforms......get a clue!!!!!!


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

I not interested how many stars some of these kids have.Boise State has won more games than anybody in football in the last 10 years.Their Kids are made up of 2 an 3 star kids.If the Cornhuskes come in and Win the Big Ten there First Year.What does that say about your so called Super Star Talent.I guess you forgot about last years Bowl Games.TCU Beat The Badgers in The Big Ten Backyard,and so did everyone else THAT DAY.I'm very serious,and YOU GET A CLUE.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

With Michigan's Cup Cake teams they have to play,he should do fine.Please don't compare him to TP,because there is really no comparison between the two,other than Black and QB's.Michigan better work on Running the Football to keep that Matador defense off the field,untill it the Defense gets its legs underneath its self.Michigan better make Hey while they can.Ohio State won't be down for very long.Just look how many Pro's have come out of there in the last 10 years.They still have players,believe me.I thought Sweather Vest was a teribble Coach ANYWAY. Helen Keller could of Coached that team.He was always LOADED WITH TALENT.

Chad Williams

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 6:48 a.m.

Everyone plays creampuffs because its more money to pay a team a half of mil to play them at home. That being said Michigan have been kinda wimping out on playing the big boys. Think about the first game in your new renovated stadium the only team you felt ok playing was Uconn. I was so sure that game would have been against a big named opponent. The only reason why Uconn was picked because it was a easier road game to return in the future and from the looks of things they are trying to talk uconn out of playing on their own home field in 2013. Meanwhile osu has taken on USC, Texas, and now Miami in the past few years. Plain and simple michigan is scared of getting a black eye. They remember the west coast trips from the earlier 2000's 0-3. I think the big ten/acc challenge in b-ball is what football needs. Im sick of the big ten/mac challenge, its getting way too far for all schools. Man up roll your sleeves up and be ready to battle.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

What irresponsible delusion you write. 1. Pryor was recruited to play in the same offense that both Robinson, Forcier and this year two white QBs (Nick Patti at Dr. Phillips, FL, and Maty Mauk at Kenton, OH). Both are better runners than passers. Pryor is taller, DRob is faster and more elusive. 2. Ohio State may or may not be down, who knows. I'm not too concerned about OSU's plight as much as I am happy about our ascension back to being a powerful team. Talk garbage all you want, Michigan's coaches have recruited well this spring and summer -- and they emphasize traditional elements to get players to buy in. It isn't the fancy system, it's the entire collegiate experience and family atmosphere that Hoke is winning with already. I was a RichRod supporter, but I can admit the differences between a the two approaches. 3. I was down on Hoke's overall record, but he has more talent, and will have more talent in the years to come, than he's ever been able to coach as the HC. 4. Garbage comments might make you feel better, but they don't do much here other than make us laugh and explain how 'ronic the comments are. 5. Yes, JT was conservative, but he also made your program, good and bad. You must forget that Cooper did squat before him with more talent.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

&quot;Cupcake schedule&quot; ... let's see what Ohio State has in store for itself this upcoming season: Akron -- outmatched against pretty much any Big 10 team Toledo -- ditto Miami -- not what it once was, but not bad Colorado -- 5 and 7 last season; 0-3 against top 25 teams Now Michigan: Western Michigan -- match this against OSU's Akron Notre Dame -- match this against Miami, though I think ND will be much improved in 2011 Eastern Michigan -- awful, no doubt ... similar to Toledo, but maybe not as good San Diego State -- pretty good last year and will be sky-high against Hoke in the Big House Bottom line? Meh ... toss up when it comes to cream puff schedule. Robinson vs. Terrell? Different players; different styles. I liked TP and thought he could have been a TERRIFIC QB ... I doubt history will record him as that, though. Ohio State? Who's counting them out? Certainly not me. They are, as you say, loaded with talent. Anyone who underestimates OSU is making a mistake. San Diego State

Lorain Steelmen

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

If DRob truely has 'improved in his mechanics', then he will be just fine. (Consider, Tyrell Pryor at THE osu, who never really 'mastered' these mechanics, in three years, while at THE osu.) Decision making, comes down to 'taking what the defense gives you'...and consistently, thinking about it, that way....rather than trying, to 'force something' that just isn't there. So while DRob, certainly is a tremendous competitor, he is also a mature young man. When he 'grasps' that he has a lot of talent around him, the game will start to 'slow down' a lot, and he will become a 'general' out there. It'll take a couple of games, of course, but I AM confident, that if he stays healthy, he will be a 'force' at QB....and not just a 'flash' at QB. Having said all this, it IS a process, and that is the FUN of watching a young player, and a young team, mature. My hope is, that he, (and the team), has enough, talent and desire, to get a win over the Irish. That to me is the pivital game for them this year. Good luck to the Wolverines...and like the beer ad says, 'Stay thirsty, my friends!'