Michigan receives another good effort from Denard Robinson, but it is not enough
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Denard Robinson got his speed back. But falling into the groove he found at the beginning of Michigan’s football season, back when the Wolverines were the talk of the country and ranked in the Top 25 for the second straight September, didn’t mean much for his team.
A healthy Robinson gives Michigan the best chance to win. But this healthy Robinson -- the one whose knee was finally 100 percent but whose shoulder still ached -- couldn’t do enough in a 41-31 loss to Penn State.
“I was all right,” Robinson said.
As Robinson learned -- and as Michigan learned -- 381 yards and four touchdowns of offensive production is not enough anymore. Running for 191 yards and passing for 190 is not enough.
For Michigan to win in the Big Ten, it needs to receive even more production and more consistent decision-making from Robinson, while at the same time try to diversify its offensive plan a bit more.
“We have some plays we left out there that he could have capitalized a little bit,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “It’s a team game, not just one guy. It’s 11 guys and Denard doesn’t get all the credit, that’s not the way it works.
“If Denard makes a play, it means 10 other guys did their job and vice versa.”
That said, Robinson looked as healthy Saturday night as he has all season. That, in some ways, is part of the problem.
Robinson can’t seem to play an entire game. He has missed at least one snap in six of eight games due to either a big hit levied by an opponent or a more serious injury to his shoulder or knee.
Despite all of that, Robinson is now the Big Ten’s all-time single-season rushing leader as a quarterback. He has 1,287 yards this year, breaking the record set by Antwaan Randle-El at Indiana (1,270 yards) in 2000.
All of this came in a loss, though -- Michigan’s third in a row. And with three of Michigan’s last four opponents in the top half of the Big Ten, it needs Robinson to stay healthy and consistent for the Wolverines to have any shot at qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
“There were some things we missed, obviously, particularly early on that we have to get better at,” Smith said. “He did some good things and some things that have to be corrected. He did okay I guess but we didn’t win so it doesn’t matter.
“We have to get stuff corrected.”