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Posted on Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 1:02 a.m.

Michigan running backs continue to struggle and other notes

By Michael Rothstein


Michigan sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson rushed for 191 yards Saturday against Penn State.

Melanie Maxwell |

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - As quarterback Denard Robinson continues to gain yards at a steady pace, the carries dwindle for the Michigan running backs.

Robinson rushed 27 times on Saturday in a 41-31 Michigan loss to Penn State. The Wolverines’ running backs touched the ball 15 times.

“We tried to run a lot of inside stuff with them,” running backs coach Fred Jackson said. “I thought they did OK. Until I see film I won’t know how well they ran it.

“…I was hoping we could get a little bit more production, but we didn’t. But I’d have to look at the film before I tell you why not.”

When Jackson does view the film, he’ll see a group that gained 2.8 yards a carry.

Robinson had 191 yards rushing. Everyone else had 42 yards.

Vincent Smith gained 24 yards on nine carries, Stephen Hopkins had 14 yards on five carries and Michael Shaw, who started the first game of the year, had one carry for 4 yards.

“We have to play better,” Jackson said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got plays there to be made and we’re not making them, I’m talking from the running back position.

“We have to play better.”

From the athletic director… First-year Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon stood off to the side as Michigan’s players exited the locker room after the game.

And the former Domino’s CEO and Michigan regent was as disappointed as anyone.

“Like everybody in the program, we want to win,” Brandon said. “We always want to win.”

Brandon declined to answer questions about the progress of Michigan’s football team this season.

Vinopal gets the start… Michigan’s already-young secondary became a little bit more inexperienced Saturday when the Wolverines inserted true freshman Ray VInopal into the starting lineup.

Vinopal had played sparingly through the first half of the season, but saw significant time on the road, at night, at Penn State.

“I was nervous,” Vinopal said. “But after the first play all the nerves went away and it was just football again.”

Vinopal played decently in his first extended playing time, making six tackles.

Injury report Before the season, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez called nose tackle Mike Martin his defense’s most critical player.

Now, Martin is playing on two ankles that have been beat up.

Martin injured his right ankle against Iowa. In the first half Saturday, he hurt his left one.

“That’s a blow,” Rodriguez said. “Because Mike makes a difference when he’s in there.”

Cornerback J.T. Floyd, who Rodriguez said suffered a stinger, re-entered the game but was seen limping out of the Michigan locker room.

This and that Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson declined to speak with the media after Saturday’s game. … Mark Huyge, the former starter at left tackle before being replaced by Taylor Lewan earlier this season, started at right tackle in place of Perry Dorrestein. Dorrestein missed the game with a sprained knee but said he’d be ready for Illinois. … Rodriguez replaced kicker Seth Broekhuizen on kickoffs with freshman punter Will Hagerup. Broekhuizen made a field goal, though, his first since he had one against Michigan State.

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



Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

DRobinson is the ONLY change this team has made since last season. Special teams, defense, and yes, even the offense are as bad as last year except for the explosiveness of one player: Robinson. There has been progress made NOWHERE ELSE, in fact we've even gotten worse in many areas of special teams and defense. It's one thing to lose games, it's completely another to show no improvement when "rebuilding" a program (that, imo, had no business being "rebuilt").


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

3 and out I'm disguised as you average Pennsylvania hill billy. I thought it was a funny. I'm changing it thought to something more appopriate for our current situation.

Sean T.

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

Mike Martin is dinged up so RR puts Will Campbell on offense? Regardless who switched over to replace Campbell on the "D" he should be spelling Martin through out the game.


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 3:37 a.m.


3 And Out

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 2:34 a.m.

Hey Macabre and GoBluePA...OT what is the significance behind your choices for avatars? both are interesting choices...mine is pretty self explanatory

3 And Out

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 2:31 a.m.

so much for our vaunted offensive line...weak-ass scheme and poor Rich Rod recruit RBs...only carried by one incredible player in D Rob.


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 2:15 a.m.

Defense, offense, special teams, coaching.....etc. This team just STINKS from top to bottom period. I've been watching Rich Frod team all year and the writings were on the wall. The team benefited earlier from a weaker teams with BAD DEFENSES (go back and see). The 5-0 start wasn't impressive considering the competition. Michigan could've easily been 3-2 or 2-3. Late drive against ND, Indiana,Umass. BGSU w/back up QB.....but when they faced the real music the dancing stopped. DR is an exciting player but won't last in his position. To much pounding and hits and no other PLAYMAKERS on the team. The players might be fast but lack strength and size. THIS IS THE BIG TEN AND NOT BIG EAST. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. Did anyone watch Wisky against OSU? They frustrated an overrated TP all night. Rich Frod is overpaid,overrated,stubborn,hot headed coach. Here's a questions to the M fans, can you name ONE POSITIVE INSTANCE that happened to this football team since RR arrival at Michigan campus? ooops, sorry I forgot to blame LC for all the distractions,violations,attritions......that happened to the this once storied program since Rich Rod took over.


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 1:48 a.m.

Those stats on offense really say a lot about this supposed potent offense. The offense boils down to one guy and that's the QB. Whether it's DRob or Tate, there is nothing else but those guys. The running game is a shambles, besides DRob, and the passing game is nothing but slants, unless Tate's in the game. I'll be interested to see what attendance looks like at the UofI game this Saturday. I think he's already gone, but if we see attendance dropping off, that's the death knell.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 1:41 a.m.

Fred's right. Robinson is the de-facto speed and change-of-pace running back. His use means the running backs will "struggle," as you put it. Robinson will be more effective paired with Hopkins pounding the ball inside. Even better if Hopkins and/or Smith can do a little reading themselves if Rodriguez implements a bit of pistol formation into the plan. And best, of course, if Robinson were a more accurate passer. But since he's so dinged up from all those pile-ups, his mechanics have been off since the Notre Dame game.