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Posted on Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10 p.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson puts on a show for the second week in a row

By Michael Rothstein


Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson celebrates after scoring in the final minute of Saturday's game to give Michigan a 28-24 lead against Notre Dame.

Lon Horwedel |

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Flanked by a media relations representative on one side and a gang of reporters on the other, sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson had almost the exact same formation as he ran for the Michigan football team much of Saturday.

This time was different as he attempted to reach the post-game press conference after a 28-24 Michigan win over Notre Dame.

For the first time all day, Robinson stood still. The problem for Notre Dame? It was the Irish marching band holding him up.

Not much else stopped Denard Robinson in South Bend. Notre Dame’s defense saw him run the week before against Connecticut - and then the same type of Denard destruction happened to the Irish a week later.

The Denard Robinson Experience rolled all the way through South Bend. The Irish defense saw what he did against Connecticut. A week later, it didn’t matter anyway as his encore was better than the premiere.

“We know he has that athletic ability and can pull it down and run,” Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith said. “He is everything that was advertised.”

Robinson gained 258 yards on the ground, including an 87-yard touchdown run where he took a small seam in the Notre Dame defense and ran past everyone untouched into the end zone.

His other touchdown was more important. In what may be billed as an early-season Heisman Trophy-esque drive, Robinson moved the ball 72 yards down the field and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds remaining.

Perhaps even more stunning - and what will probably concern Michigan’s future opponents - is that Robinson is improving. Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Robinson grew tremendously in that final drive as the Wolverines improved to 2-0.

“I’ve been around some good ones,” Smith said. “But I’ll tell ya, he’s coming man. I’m proud of him. He works his tail off.”


Michigan's Martell Webb, left, congratulates quarterback Denard Robinson after he scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Lon Horwedel |

The 258 yards rushing was the fifth-best all-time at Michigan, just behind the 270 yards Ron Johnson gained in 1967 against Navy. It was the best rushing performance for Michigan since Tim Biakabutuka’s 313-yard game against Ohio State 15 years ago. It's also established a new standard for Big Ten quarterbacks.

“Man,” Robinson said, shocked by the numbers he accumulated. “The offense came together. The offensive line blocked, the receivers catching, everything was clicking. That’s what was happening.”

That’s why, almost to a player, they seem unsurprised by anything Robinson does.

They aren’t shocked by his passing ability - he hit Roy Roundtree on a perfect pass for Michigan’s first touchdown. They aren’t shocked by his ability to run. And they aren’t shocked by the calmness he displayed when he drove Michigan down the field for the win, the second straight year a Michigan quarterback tore through Notre Dame with a final-minute drive.

Michigan is used to it. Robinson tears up more than opponents. He also makes the Wolverines’ defense look bad on a daily basis.

“About,” running backs coach Fred Jackson said. “Every 10 snaps. Every 10 or 11 snaps he breaks one like that.

“When it’s there for him, he’s going to break it.”

The lone concern with Robinson is whether or not he can hold up this pace.

He’s averaging 28.5 carries a game and 222.5 yards rushing. But with those runs comes a lot of hitting. For the second straight game, Robinson was forced to the sideline for a play to recover from an injury.

Afterward, even Robinson acknowledged he’s “just a little bit” sore.

Both offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said they’d like to keep him from running it that much.


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson slices through the Notre Dame defense for a big gainer during second quarter action.

Lon Horwedel |

But Notre Dame (1-1) offered no choice. With the defensive fronts the Irish presented, it was Robinson’s ball to carry over and over again, which is how he finished with 502 yards of total offense (258 running, 244 passing), the most ever by a player against Notre Dame.

“A lot of times, his reads tell him to give the ball to the running backs,” Jackson said. “But this game, they were forcing him to run it.

“They were probably trying to beat him up. But he’s too quick to beat up.”

Instead, they watched him run all over Notre Dame Stadium. Few have done it better. While Notre Dame doesn’t have a full list of opposing rushing statistics, he came close enough to the all-time record here - a Tony Dorsett 303-yard game in 1975 with Pittsburgh - it needed to be looked up.

And for the first time since 1997, when West Virginia’s Amos Zereoue was brought in, an opposing player was brought into the Notre Dame press conference room.

Matt Leinart wasn’t. Reggie Bush wasn’t. Drew Brees wasn’t.

But Denard Robinson, on a day where he placed himself among the best players in college football on a national stage, was.

The Robinson bandwagon is growing. Rodriguez joked he had his shoes untied in honor of Robinson. Random fans yelled support at him as he ran off the Notre Dame Stadium field and up the tunnel.

And the Michigan athletic director, a former football player himself, took notice.

“He’s the fastest guy,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said, “I’ve ever seen on a football field.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein



Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

NoBowl4Blue, now I know you are an Ohio State fan, I said I have a DVR, so you should know I don't watch commercials.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.

Following Rothstein's questionalble Tate Transfer story of last week, he links images in this article of Tate in seclusion. You might get a more accurate display of Tates attitude by going to photos on the MGOBLUE site. Photo 69 of 70 in particular. Rothstein, if your going to include photos of Tate in a Denard story, at least give him the benefit of the doubt.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

Aside from Denard and the offensive line and the way the recievers blocked and held on, the defense looked greatly improved also. Although there were some glaring mistakes in the secondary, they got decent pressure and did a good job stopping the run. In the second half the offense stalled too many times and the holds were bad but there was a couple of phantom personal fouls too that helped ND. But in the end it came down to which tream was in better shape and RR was yelling like mad to get to the line and go and they did and shoelaces left'em all in slow motion. How sweet it is!

Sean T.

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Since RR's offense is basically built around a running QB with a portion of dinking and dunking, I am thoroughly amazed with Denard Robinson. His efforts are unmatched so far this season and I hope he continues his success. We still need someone else to help him in the backfield to make the team successful. It would help if we could throw the ball 15yds plus to stretch the field a bit too! I know he had a few completions of 10, 12, and 15 yards but those started as 6 and 7 yard catches. Nevertheless, I hope he can continue as long as he can because he's just amazing. (And I'm a big Forcier fan.) The defense is more aggressive but I'm hesitant to say they are much improved over last year. Like I said before, any competent QB and WR's will shred us to death and we may have gotten by on Denards play and the fact ND couldn't use their starting QB the whole game. But we beat the Irish and there's not much sweeter than that! Oh and let's get real people, the O-line was decent but Denard made about 70% of our plays on pure speed. ND's D-line harassed DR constantly in the second half was starting to wear him down a bit. And I gasped went I seen him drop down and leave the game. We are lucky there was nothing serious! Go Blue


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

Robinson is a truly phenomenal player. What makes him even more amzing, in my opinion, is the fact that he talks only within the context of the team, not talking about how great he is individually. He's like Barry may stop him once, twice, even three times, but you know that he's going to explode for a long one at some point. The fact that he can pass has also helped his running big time this season. If Robinson does get hurt, though, I still think UM's offense will be okay because Tate did a fair job last year and, if Gardner's better than him, I would expect that he could do okay as well. The offense won't be AS potent obviously, but they should still be able to put up some points.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

"I reckon osu fans are mighty steamed about whose QB is getting the most attention these days." - Mick52 ******************************** I doubt it. Terelle Pryor is still getting a lot of attention from the media because OSU beat,then #12, Miami. Besides, I'll bet Jim Tressel would prefer all the distracting media hype go somewhere away from his team.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

I also agree with those who give credit to the offensive line and other offensive and defensive players. Without good blocking, Robinson wouldn't be putting up the numbers he has been making lately. The defensive line is also holding their own. U-M is still vulnerable against the pass (too many long passes given up due to poor technique and reactions by the d-backs) along with poor punting and field goal kicking. These things must be corrected if they want to be contenders in the Big Ten race.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

ESPN made Robinson the player of the day in college football, which is well-deserved. Here is a quote they also made: "Make no mistake, if this guy gets hurt, Michigan is in trouble because he basically is their offense". I hope in the next few games that Gardner and Tate see some action to get game experience and allow Robinson to heal up for the tough Big Ten schedule and so that Gardner and Forcier can be ready to play in case of injury to Denard. Although UCONN and Notre Dame are decent teams, I doubt Robinson can keep running 25-30 times per game against physically punishing teams like Wisconsin, MSU, Iowa, and Ohio State without getting seriously hurt, and then there will be a big dropoff in QB performance and it will hurt the team. Doesn't Coach Rod realize that? I think he downplays that possibility when he makes comments like "he only ran 28 times today instead of 29 times like last week". Real funny. It won't be very funny for U-M when he is on the sidelines on crutches watching Tate and Gardner.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 8:05 a.m.

BroncoJoe, Yes, sad indeed that some want to distort the facts for whatever reason. The facts are that there were a number of excellent performers even on the much maligned defense - Roh, Martin, Novak, Ezeh, not to mention Roundtree, Odum, and the offensive line... This is just the way forums are, more about attacks than facts and more about ideology than reality.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

What was it Bo said? Oh, yeah: "The team, the team, the team." What has Robinson said the last two weeks? "The O Line opened great holes. The receivers are catching the ball." etc. All the haters just find a new way to hate, and now it's, "Robinson's the whole team." All I can figure is some people just take a perverse pleasure in posting a new twist on the same old stuff just to rile other people up. Sad.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

LOL, I saw about 10 minutes of the OSu game and I guess that makes me a fan. Just stating the obvious and BTW I don't watch commercials hope you enjoy them.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:47 a.m.

After only 2 games Denard Robinson has half the stats toward the Heisman. His teammates deserve little of the credit however, and better start protecting him. No QB can last a whole season without smarter and more physical protection. And Gibbons is the worst kicker I've ever seen.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 12:35 a.m.

I reckon osu fans are mighty steamed about whose QB is getting the most attention these days.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 12:10 a.m.

NoBowl4Blue, You must be an Ohio State Fan, a Michigan would not switch back and forth they would watch Michigan live and DVR Ohio State, do you still have an outhouse.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

Michigan 28 over Notre Dame 28 Quarterback Advantage Michigan Offensive Line Advantage Michigan Defense Line Advantage Michigan Secondary Advantage Notre Dame Running Backs Advantage Notre Dame Receivers Advantage Notre Dame Special Teams Advantage Notre Dame Coaching Advantage Michigan Home Field Advantage Notre Dame A win at Norte Dame is always a great win. Shoelaces got better! Still no turnovers after two games Kick returns got better, maybe RR was right it was the wind. After a great first week penalties got a little worse this week and at bad times in the game. Field goals are still problem. Had two bad punts. Secondary showed some weakness this week, but still had moments of greatness.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10:43 p.m.

Well, so much for "he better not approach 29 carries or else ND is going to injure him". Everyone, including myself, seemed to be so concerned about the injury potential. What we failed to take into account was the fact that Denard Robinson is splendabulous. He's fabtacular. Let's look for UM to coast to a couple easy wins and lower the snaps Denard takes. Forget that Heisman stuff, we should only be concerned with keeping him 110% for when conference play rolls around. Wins are greater than individual achievements anyways, especially for UM in this year. Great game, dude's a freak. 'Nuff said.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 9:27 p.m.

It was GREAT to beat the Irish today..Robinson is off the chain, lets hope he stays healthy.... lets enjoy this win...


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

Hire armed guards, get out the bullet proof vest and shield him with everything you have. Denard is the whole team. Outstanding performances these last 2 weeks but the rest of the team isn't in the same league. As I switched back and forth from the game and the Osu game the most noticable difference is Denard is everything to his team while OSU plays "D". If Denard stays healthy maybe, just maybe Michigan can make a bowl game other than Pizza Pizza.