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Posted on Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Denard Robinson takes charge, but not as the pro-style quarterback the Michigan football team desires

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson looks for a receiver against Eastern Michigan. Robinson was 7-of-18 passing Saturday with one interception and two touchdowns.

Angela J. Cesere |

Denard Robinson might never be a pro-style quarterback.

He almost certainly won't make it this year. Not based on results with a quarter of the season in the books.

The Michigan football team beat Eastern Michigan, 31-3, on Saturday, and appeared hungover for much of the first half after last week's win against Notre Dame.

That's forgivable, though. After all, Michigan won handily and its troublesome defense had its best game in four years and two days.

But Robinson? That one is far more concerning, and can't be passed off as a hangover.

The junior, undergoing that transition from spread-option to pro-style quarterback, missed on his first five passes. He missed badly on a couple of them. Missed open guys. Didn't see open guys.


Denard Robinson pulls away from Eastern Michigan linebacker Colin Weingrad on Saturday. Robinson ran 26 times for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Angela J. Cesere |

He was ineffectual in every way when it came to the passing game.

Eastern Michigan, by the way, was picked to finish last in the Mid-American Conference's West Division.

Robinson played incrementally better as the game progressed, finishing 7-of-18 passing for 95 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But there are real warts on his aerial game.

The scariest part of all? While everyone else sees them, he doesn't — or at least isn't fessing up.

He deflected questions about the most-concerning aspects of his game.

Denard, are you seeing your receivers?

"We have been practicing this all week, so I saw them pretty good," he said.

Denard, it looked like you were missing and throwing behind a lot of your targets. What's going on?

"Naw," he said curtly. "No."

Robinson's always been a man of few words, but he's always worn that smile. There was less of a smile Saturday, and even fewer words.

He wasn't happy with his performance, surely. And it's not as though he thinks all is right.

"I always got time for improvement, room for improvement, so that's what I got to do," he said.

But will he? Improve? In the passing game?

He just isn't making plays with his arm. He's overthrowing on some plays, underthrowing on others. He's behind his targets. He's late to see receivers break open.

The wideouts finished with five catches, none by starters Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway.

This, again, is against EMU, which finished 113th last year in overall defense. For perspective, that was three spots worse than Michigan.

I asked Robinson what he would do to turn things around.

"Got to come back Sunday and come to work," he said. "Just do everything the coaches tell me to do.

"We'll see on the film."

He won't like what he sees on film. Neither will coaches. And this spread-West Coast hybrid of an offense might become even more bent toward the run.

After all, it worked.

He rolled up 26 carries for 198 yards and one touchdown. That would have been his third-best running game last year, both in carries and yards, when he was running a straight-up spread-option attack.

It's not as though offensive coordinator Al Borges wants to run him 26 times in a game — not when the preseason goal, for offensive consistency and ball control and to keep Robinson healthy, was 10 to 15 carries per game.

But Robinson was at 14 by halftime. Even with the game in hand, he had 12 more in the second half.

This surely isn't what Borges envisioned his offense would look like after three games — but it just might be what we see going forward.

When the going got tough against Notre Dame, it was Robinson on the run — and it worked, culling together one of the best four quarters and greatest comebacks in Michigan quarterback history.

When the going got tough against Eastern Michigan, it again was Robinson on the run — and it worked. He was just 2 yards shy off his third career 200-yard game, and Michigan moved the chains.

Robinson just isn't progressing in the passing game. It's possible he's regressed since last year, at least in terms of accuracy. He's completed 49.1 percent of his passes. He finished last year at 62.5 percent, and that was after facing the Big Ten gauntlet.

He might someday pick it up — he's always been coachable, after all, and has always done whatever was asked of him.

But he hasn't yet. That was crystal clear against a bottom-tier MAC team.

What will Michigan do next week against San Diego State?

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



Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

If Denard can just do what he did last season we should end up winning 8 or 9 games. Remember how atrocious the defense was last year? That's why we kept losing. Even during the Big Ten season, our offense wasn't really that bad. Ugly at times? Yes. But, except for the OSU and Mississippi State games they still put plenty of points on the board. It was the defense that kept failing us over and over again. We were within 10 points against Wisconsin in the 3rd quarter but our defense wouldn't allow us to come back. I'm not ready to declare that the 2011 defense is a 'force to be reckoned with', but I think we can all agree that the monstrosity that was the 2010 defense is a thing of the past. If these guys can get some stops and not let opposing offenses just score at will, the Michigan offense should be in good position in the 4th quarter against any of the Big Ten teams. And, let's face it. There are no good losses. But there are losses, and then there are despicable losses. Hopefully we can make it through a whole season without having to deal with the latter.

beanie wells

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

you guys have been beaten down for too long. you're looking for problems. complaining about denard? come on. is he perfect, no. but he's the reason michigan is 3-0. he's the reason they won ANY games last year. no matter how his career ends up, michigan fans should celebrate this kid for years. you want QB problems... look south, my friends, where the starting QB has his job because he's better at throwing the ball away. no, enjoy what you have... and stay patient.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

I'm certainly not second guessing Brady & Al here,they have a ton more football knowledge ,and experience than I. I also wish to see more PT of Gardner . God forbid if D-Rob would get injured,what would Michigan's O look like ? Last minute of the EMU game they Had DG under center,and Thomas Rawls in the I formation,with 2 tight ends(pro-set),and it looked formidable to me, DG is tall,and could see over both lines,and Rawls has great size also. D-Rob is a freak!,specially on the run ! Lets fast Forward here,and if the injury bug would appear ,where would Michigan's O be? and DRob graduates after the 2012 season, Where will Michigan's O be ? Sorry to say,but D-Rob is not the future QB of Michigan,its Devin,and Shane Morris..D-Rob was injured in the ND game,and he took some shots in the EMU game,and he's going to get hit,and hit hard in games to come,so I'm sure Hoke & Co already know this,so we'll all have to wait and see,but this debate I'm sure will continue...


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

Isn't that why he has coaches and isn't in the NFL yet? Denard has a great talent, but it will also take a great coach to make him something truly complete as a QB. Seem Brady Hoke has a long term strategy in mind, not a short term one - he has an inherited roster and it ain't gonna be easy. Makes me even more sure Hoke is the right man for MI. Short sighted article.

Lorain Steelmen

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

So far I have NOT been surprised by anthing that has happened. We ALL knew going in that ND was the big test in the early going. We ALL knew that the offense would have difficulty making a transition. We ALL knew that the defense would be a work in progress. What we did NOT know, was the extent of injuries, and at which postions. What we did NOT know was the emergence of a running back. So far, Fitz T & Vince Smith have stepped forward while Shaw and Hopkins have NOT. The coaching staff has gotten a 'C' so far. They won the games that RR would have won. It's a bit early to get too carried away with whether he is a 'great' coach yet. What we haven't seen, is an intermediate virtical passing game. Second, I think Hoke's failure to play Gardner in the fourth quarter, was a HUGE mistake! I'd ask, if not against Eastern, then when odes he get reps? We may well need Gardner to start, or play, vital minutes vs osu and Nebraska, and possibly other teams, by the end of the year, and it is up to Hoke & Borges to have Gardner ready to 'win ' those games. Hokes' responsibility is to all 115 players, not just one.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

LS, Hoke's not playing Gardner in the 4th qtr was a tough call. The offense was not clicking as one would hope, we lost 18 minutes of game-speed experience in the WMU game, and nothing can replicate the intensity and speed of doing it in a game. So do you continue to play Denard and get that game speed experience and build on it, or play Devin to get him some experience? I think it's a tough call either way. Also, from where I sit, the intermediate routes have been open. Denard has either not seen the receiver (he has a tendency to lock on and not read his progressions) or he made a bad throw. Finally, not to re-litigate the last three years, but I don't think it at all clear that the previous staff could have won the game against ND. But who knows? In any event, what might have happened really has no bearing on what did happen. But what this coaching staff has done in every game that the past coaching staff seldom if ever did is to make in-game adjustments, particularly on defense. GN&GL


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 11:34 a.m.

It's all about the horses. You put aworld class jockey on a nag and I don't care who that jockey is he is going to lose the race. Rich Rodriguez built the Michigan program as one horse team so it is what it is. Our one horse team is only an average passer and that is on a good day for DR. Nick Sabin Knew he was never going to get his type of players(horses) at Mich. State so Nick left for greener pastuers. Brady will eventially get his type of guys but it will be a 2-4 year work of art. Our coaches are smart and their giving the masses (us) what we want which is of coarse wins. The thing I'm enjoying as much as the wins is the coaching which I find facinating. It's a relief to see a well composed and patient coach on Mich. sideline. Brady and staff will get their guys and pro style will eventually be the order of the day in the meantime we just need to enjoy the process.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 10:41 a.m.

Im not entirely sure Denard will ever be a good passer. The thing is, he's so good running the ball that its not as big of a problem as people are making it out to be. I think for the offense to really be effective the staff needs to get better at exploiting teams when they key in on Denard's running ability. Part of that is Denard needs to make a few good throws here and there, but the rest of it is to get a RB in the mix. When defenses start backing off a little and forming a shell to contain Denard there leaving UM with an opportunity to run the ball. The past regime failed to do that, and it ended up with Denard still trying to run, but only picking up a few yards and taking a hit. UM's offense seems like they are going to live and die with Denard this year, but hopefully the new staff and take advantage of when defenses inevitably key in on Denard. We all seen how Eastern's defense opened up after Denard tore off a few long runs. Pretty soon the RBs were finding daylight because the LBs couldnt attack the line of scrimmage. It worked out against Eastern, now it needs to happen against the tougher teams if UM is going to make any noise this year. And Denard making some plays with his arm would be nice too. SDSU will be a better test, hopefully UM can get the offense going a little sooner next week too. All this starting out slow stuff is getting old.

1st Down

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 7:41 a.m.

Denard's struggles throwing have nothing to do with scheme and everything to do with his technique. Yes, the spread O does cover his inability to throw well, by affording him the luxury of having wide open receivers that the defense leaves as he runs around back there.... but... the inability to hit open guys in straight passing downs or under center...that is on Denard... he needs to set his feet and step in to his throws. When he does this, he is a good passer... when he does not, he overthrows and he tends to aim the ball not step in to his target. Denard has the ability to become a good passer, but not until he makes the committment to that throwing motion and footwork. Tom Brady did it. Mike Vick did it... Denard needs to do it.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

truefanoftheWCiMFH: Yeah. Borges is going to take on the failed system of the WCiMFH, just so Denard can get broken in half again this season. I'll take that bet. Borges is not as dumb as either the last coaching staff or as those who have a fetish for the guy who moved to CBS. GN&GL


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Eddie -- We'll be in game 10 and you're still going to say "hey look at the 9 throws from under center in the ND game". Sample size, my friend. As the season continues, Borges will realize that the RR style offense is the optimum offense for these guys. Michigan wisely ditched the pro style against EMU and it resulted in TD, 3 and out, TD, TD, TD, 21-yd FG. Denard ran 26 times for 198 yards. That's almost 8 yards per carry. Sorry guys, the spread is here for at least this season and next. And I think that's a great thing. Unfortunately, your hatred of everything Rich Rod is consuming you. I think you'd rather watch Michigan die a slow, painful death running a pro-style offense than see the team run the 2010 offense with success.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

Check the stats from the ND game (that is, if facts can mean anything to those who have a fetish for the WCiMFH and his "system": Denard was a better passer under center than he was from the spread/shotgun. Good Night and Good Luck


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Maybe it's technique. Maybe it's pace. Who knows? All I know is Denard is not nearly as effective throwing the ball in Borges' offense as he was in the Magee/RR offense. But the good news is it appears Borges is starting to realize that the RR offense optimized the skill set of Denard. I saw a ton of plays from the RR offense against EMU. The Dileo TD catch was classic RR from 2010. I don't like running Denard 26 times per game but what are the options right now?


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 4:58 a.m.

I think the offensive play calling has been OK. Not great, but OK. Eliminate the vertical long throws completely. Stick with the read option, shotgun and short passes and we'll be fine. Denard has been called upon many times to run but he is effective at moving the ball on the ground. Priority #1 is winning football games and running Denard gives you the best shot at moving the ball and scoring points. The only real problem I have is the offensive pace. I believe the slower offense (compared with last year) is negatively affecting Denard's rhythm. These guys were developed in a fast tempo offense and we would be well served to continue that model. I like the progress of the defense. This team is starting to hold its own. But the real test, as always, will be against B1G competition. We are now 10-0 in September over the past few years but bad in October and November. Buck that trend and this team will be on its way to 8+ wins this season.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 2 a.m.

I agree with the writer. There is no way Michigan is going to get past Wisconsin, Nebraska, State, OSU and maybe even Illinois with Denard doing so much running and passing so poorly. I was watching a few of the SEC play over the weekend. They have many players as fast and shifty as Denard. Top Big 10 teams already know how to defend him. Something has to change otherwise we will repeat our record against the Big 10 teams this year. Trying Gardner at QB with Denard in the backfield or wide receiver is a look we should at least experiment with. Come on Denard, take one for the team.

Elton in Atlanta

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Wisconsin won't give us any trouble this year. Hopefully they'll play us tough next year.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

All of you people keep saying to move Denard to some other position, yet Hoke and Borges disagree. Hm... I think I'll trust the coaches on this one, sorry. Not stop with the nonsense.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.

Historically, when you think of the optimal flow of a football game, you think running the ball to open up passing lanes. In the last couple of decades, more teams, both college and professional, have gone the other way - passing to open up running lanes - and had success. What's wrong with a QB running threat providing opportunities in the passing game and for other runners? Do what you're best at to establish rhythm, then diversify to keep the defense honest. It doesn't really matter what your bread and butter is. Just my opinion, obviously.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

To tell you the truth, what little we've seen out of Devin Gardner makes every bit as concerned about the passing as Denard does. Devin has that stiff-armed release, and unless I'm mistaken, he was dreadful in the spring game. Who is that freshmen QB they have on the team? Can he throw the ball?


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : midnight

Imagine that, a coaching staff who adjusts their game plan and style to the talent and the way the game is going. Hoke and Borgess are not stubborn enough to think there is only one way to win a game. Robinson seemed to throw pretty well in the fourth quarter against ND. If Robinson was not throwing well against EMU, then by all means have him run. If next week the run isn't working go back to the pass. That is what a winning coach does. Take the existing talent and utilize them in the most productive way possible. Hoke's first year record is equal to the former coach in number of wins. I will put my money on him winning far more.

Mark D.

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 10:31 p.m.

Hoke isn't making the same mistake that Rich Rod did when he scrapped the entire UM system instead of using what he had and then working in his system over time. The spread is just a technique just like "pro style". A good team can run whatever style is required to win.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

Give the EMU defence some of the credit for Michigan's 1st half performance. This is not a 113th ranked defence this year, and is well coached. The EMU defense was inspired in the 1st half, while Michigan wasn't. Michigan still needs a lot of blocking and tackling practice.

Rabid Wolverine

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

While wins now on the back of Denard seem great to most passive football fans, the toll will add up when we play teams with complete defenses later in the season. Let me preface the rest of this by saying that the B1G seems to be a bit weak this year judging by some of the current outcomes of our OOC games. Stick with Denard-ball and you will wind up right where we were last year, a beat up QB that can barely run and can't throw. That is not the best move for anyone involved. Pushing Denard to focus on the passing game now, when they are not playing great defenses would give him confidence in his throws and solidify the timing with his receivers. Allowing him to simply use his legs and not utilize his arm/vision will do us little good in the long run. It also will not help Denard attempt to make the transition to the NFL eventually. If Denard was having a hard time seeing his wiiiiide open receivers with the little pressure in the pocket this week, he is in for some huge issues when we start the in conference schedule. I was at the game and it was pretty obvious tha his didn't have a single pass to Roundtree or Hemmingway. It looks to me that he is simply over thinking his read progression at this point and leaves him without an option when he doesn't look at his check-down. This is why he was left to run this week. It is a shame that his reads were way off this week, but I think it is a bit too soon to call it a loss for the season as the writer presents. The data is simply inconclusive...


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

On another note: Would someone teach Denard, on how to tie his shoes. I wouldn't want him to trip on his laces and hurt himself. Without Denard, there is no UofM football.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

OMG you're so funny!


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

Wow some are in serious denial! " As long as we get the win versus a last place MAC team everything is good! " That's painful to try and understand. The analysis is right on, but ignores that Denard was injured in the throwing shoulder during the Notre Dame game to the extent he barely threw in practice. For you who are apparently unconcerned, this offense that relies on one player running to get going will be stuffed by better B1G teams just like last year. Denard must gain the timing and the touch on his passing or M will be easy to defend, and those living the illusion right now will be shocked and mystified as to how things "suddenly" went bad. The only up side is that there don't appear to be very many actually good B1G teams.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

During the telecast they mentioned Denard was sore this week. I would've liked to see him pulled out of the game much earlier to give Gardner more experience in game situations.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I'm confused. I thought this was college not pro ball. What's the big deal about the pro style offense in college. Have we become comfortable with the big 6'5'' QB that is slow and has to protected by the referees from the big fast, quick linemen. Quite frankly, I enjoy watching college ball not semi-pro ball. Every college team that is currently winning run some version of the spread with a mobile QB. As long as M wins and Denard stays healthy, I'm fine with that.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

The issue isn't the quareterback's height, rather the consistently missing open receivers.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Not only was the passing in this game poor, don't forget three interceptions last week too. D'Rob is 6'1" In a pro style offense he may have trouble seeing over two lines of very large guys. He is a spread offense QB and and the spread gives more vision, more time to move and see what is developing once plays start. I would not have been surprised has he pulled a Ryan Mallet and left seeking a better fitting offense. The difference might be staying and maybe winning or playing in a spread and setting college football records. Successful Michigan QBs are at least two inches taller: Chad Henne: 6'3" John Navarre: 6'6" Tom Brady 6'4" Elvis Grbac: 6'5" Brian Griese 6'3" DRob would do a lot better in a spread offense, as we saw last year. I really see no advantage in this offense over a spread. The spread properly run opens up the field. The key to winning is a good defense anyway.

Elton in Atlanta

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

I think Denard understands his pro QB prospects are limited. He's said he wants a degree, and he wants that degree to me a Michigan degree. He's staying.

Charlie S

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Maybe it's just me, but isn't the most important (and only) thing winning? Who cares if Denard is a pro-style quarterback or a spread quarterback if the team is winning games? Who cares what the system is that the new coaching staff wants to install if they are ultimately smart enough to adjust to the strength of their personnel? I'll readily agree that Denard hasn't looked as sharp over the past two games as he did for much of his sophomore year, but Michigan is 3-0, and that's really the only thing that matters. I'm encouraged by the fact that the coaching staff is not narrow minded to try to force an issue, and think that this flexibility will ultimately benefit both Denard and the future offense tremendously. Sports writers get paid to try to come up with the scoop or the insightful angle, but I think the author here is just looking to create a story where there isn't one. If Denard throws an INT on the last play of the ND game or the coaching staff forces him into a pocket passer and Michigan survives a scare by EMU, then we have a story. Now we just have a young writer trying to make a point that isn't there, and it's too bad.

Elton in Atlanta

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

Integrity is the most important thing, and the team that forgets it ends up a loser every time. I like this coaching staff a lot and I think the team will continue to get better every week and every year. Long uphill climb this year though. Before The Eclipse UM would have EMU exercising their punter after three futile downs every possession.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

they were 5-0 last year and got man handled in big ten schedule. and Denard wasn't all that successful against better Big Ten D last year. Wins are good, but they won these early games last year and the year before as well.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Maybe Rich Rodriguez can come in secretly and coach the offense until Denard graduates, Denard cant run a pro style offense. Hes made for Rodriguez's offense and nothing else.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

It looks like Hoke knows that offense. And he knows other ones, too. He's a coach, unlike his predecessor.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

If RR comes back, you'll lose to all of those teams. RR is a one trick pony coach.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

I think Hoke's staff is doing a good job of implementing what they see as the future of Michigan football. Then, if it isn't working through the first few series, they flex their game plan and accommodate the skills of the players they currently have. That by itself should make it clear that RR (from what we saw in his 3 years at MI) wouldn't fit with this coaching staff. Joke or not, I just had to make sure this point was made.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

when it comes to passing I think Denard, at this point, is what he is. He was a 45% passer in High School. Passing is not his strong point, running is. When by far your best runner is your QB and he isn't that great a passer you have issues IMO. That can be problematic if your playing catch up in the fourth quarter. And yes I watched the Notre Dame game last week.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

Gardner would benefit from playing in some plays especially if Denard gets injured. There is nothing wrong in trotting out Gardner for a couple of plays for some needed experience.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Dea'narr is missing some serious passing fundamentals that will cost the team big when it comes down to it. I'm not a stat boy, but,passing the ball at the receiver not leading him.....That is simple Fundamentals. What had me scratching my head. Big Blue spotting the Huron's the ball at mid-field. Special teams, need some work.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

For those saying to bring on Gardner as the QB, it's way too far into the season to make that change. It would cause far more disruption than it would fix. Players would begin to second guess the coaches, factions would arise, and Gardner would most likely struggle not only as a new QB, but as the new QB who was brought in to start over Denard when the team was already winning. Denard is Michigan's QB, plain and simple. At this point, Borges and Hoke simply need to keep grooming him and working the offense around his strengths while at the same time integrating other players, especially the RB's, into the game plan more. When Michigan proves they can run the ball effectively with other backs, it will take pressure off Denard and make him a better passer even if he's not really that much of a better passer, if that makes sense. For good or bad (or both), Denard is the QB and the coaches just have to continue to do their best to make this offense work around him.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Agreed, AZW. I personally would have liked to see DG get 2-3 series in the 4th quarter, though. It's nice to know there's a great backup with game experience.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Struggle with DRob, struggle with Gardner.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

I don't get why the passing mechanics have regressed in the last year. Is DR thinking too much? Rushing his throws? He had wide open tight end yesterday that was overthrown by four feet and that is just a throw that any qb must make. I hope we see improvement quickly because the competition picks up starting next week. And conversely, why didn't the coaches get devin Gardner into the game earlier? The game was in hand and he needs experience.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

I agree with Dude. DRob is a spread offense QB. I would not have been surprised if he had left after last season, just like Ryan Mallet who had to play for a style that matched his ability.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

Maybe it's because he was recruited for Rich Rod's offense specifically, and while Borges is using some of RR's run formations, he's not really using his passing plays.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

Was at the game and this is Rich Rod offense all over again. Denard can't throw the ball accurately and if Borges and Hoke want the pro-style offense they are going to have to go with Gardner. But how do you limit the touches of a guy like Denard when he makes plays. So the question becomes, do they stick with the game plan, or do you make a change at QB and game plan to get Denard the ball in other ways. If i am the D coordinator of any future opponent, I put 9 guys in the box and force Denard to beat us through the air, I don't think he can do it. Clearly they are wasting talent at receiver, maybe it is Gardner time!!


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

@Joe Kidd, I think the word "best" can be used in different ways. I see where you're coming from, but I'm not sure I would have used that word the way you used it. To me, "best" Michigan offenses will perform well against the better teams. To be fair, last year's offense was amazing -- just not in the big games.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

That was NOT the RR offense. The RR offense would have performed much better. Not saying I am a supporter, but the offense last year was one of the best Michigan has ever had record setting. It was hobbled by inexperience, turnovers. Last year's debacle was in the no show defense. Sure against the best the offense didn't do as well but that has always happened, scores are low vs the best teams.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 6:56 a.m.

Denard is being groomed to play this year and next year as QB. The offense and the defense is morphing everygame. Sometimes it is the power formation, then sometimes the throwing bombs formation and then the spread shotgun just like in this game. No issues in this game, there are bad throwing days and there are bad running days. Against ND, it was the bombs, today it was the QB spread runs, a new attack everygame and that will confure the opponents more.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Groomed? He's a junior. You groom Freshman, sophomores. Its a little late to be grooming a second year starter.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

It worked, but he got lucky. Throwing into double coverage or throwing hail mary's and his receivers going and getting them.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Change should come slowly. If you change too fast you end up like Rich Rod. They're training Denard for the new offense but are still letting him do his own thing most of the game. Getting a little better each week.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

Am I stupid to think that Denard would be just as effective at the running back position? Having Gardner at QB would improve our passing game and Denard could still get 10-15 touches per game and do what he does best. It just seems silly and unproductive having the QB run 20+ times in this system.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

Most of those passing yards came against the softest part of the schedule. His passing game was embarrassing at times during the Big Ten season. I'm not going to argue that the kid is a freak when it comes to running the ball. That's why I think he would still be scary good if he were utilized as a Reggie Bush-type running back. Devin Gardner is the better passer and nobody disputes that. He's a better fit for the pro-style system that we're trying to convert to. He's also got some (obviously not like Denard) pretty good speed. I just think using both of them would prove to be more effective. Opposing defenses would constantly be concerned about Denard which would give Gardner even more open looks in the passing game.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. All-Time Big Ten Total Offense record-holder. Only player to ever rush for 1700 yards and pass for 2500 yards in a season. Nothing but grace and humility, a true leader and team player in every sense of the words... And you still want to make him change positions.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

Convert Denard into a hybrid QB/RB while bringing along Devin or Russell along slowly at times at QB to gain some needed expierence.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 9:26 a.m.

Nice straw man, dude. Learn a little logic, OK?


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 5:11 a.m.

You've got to be kidding. Of all the areas on the team that need to improve, you single out Denard? You're out of your mind.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

I heard the BCS was changing the national championship game. Now it will consist of the two teams that rack up the most rushing yardage from their quarterbacks. Denard is 3-5 as a starter in the Big Ten. He's got a lot to prove. They win as a team, they lose as a team.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

Denard is 10-6 as a starter. He's 4-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less. He has broken Michigan, Big Ten, and NCAA records. And considering he is the focal-point of the defensive gameplan of EVERY opponent and has been playing opposite the worst defense in Michigan's 132 year history, I'd say what he has done is pretty freakin' amazing.


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

You think his winning % has something to do with HIM and not the defense he's been playing with for his entire career? Seriously? That's like saying you need to get rid of the winged helmets because they're not working anymore.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

He still has the lowest winning percentage of any Michigan starting quarterback in Big Ten play in history. It's not working, dude. It's great for the highlight reels, but it's not an intelligent winning game plan.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

Still, after all he's done for Michigan, you suggest he changes positions. I'm so ashamed of people like you two.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

I see him more as a slot-back. Just imagine what they could do out of a Flexbone, with Denard lining up in either slot and Gardner taking the snap.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

Yeah, it is worrisome that UM had to resort to running Robinson so many times against EMU. The pro-style attack will eventually work and will ultimately help Michigan control clock and win more ball games. The problem is, it isn't clicking yet and Borges is forced to revert to some of the same things that worked last year. The problem with that, though, is that what worked last year didn't work at all against the better teams in the B1G and never got UM tough yards when needed. Michigan HAS TO get their ground game going with their running backs and Denard needs to be more consistent with his passes to give UM a chance in league play.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

I agree completely. Denard's tough, but I think the hits are adding up. He's been used as a full-time running back through one complete Big Ten season. He's not a big guy. Have to wonder if his right arm/shoulder are healthy. He's missing wide-open receivers. Hoke and Borges have to run him because they don't really have any other option, other than installing a service-academy style triple option attack. This is not going to work in the Big Ten.