Spring preview: Michigan seeking consistency at quarterback position
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
When former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr was asked shortly before the Sugar Bowl who Denard Robinson reminded him of, he had scores of former quarterbacks from which to choose.
Yet, he landed on a former Wolverine who didn't play the position at all: Anthony Carter, one of the most famous receivers in school history. Why?"Anthony Carter is as exciting as any football player I’ve ever seen," Carr said in New Orleans. "I can remember being in the press box, and I was (coaching) defense at Michigan Stadium, and every time John Wangler would throw the ball in Anthony’s direction, everybody on that side of the field would stand up because they were scared they were going to miss something. I mean, he could make something out of nothing.
"I think Denard has the same kind of electricity when he takes off because he’s made so many plays."
Robinson is one of Michigan's most celebrated players in years, but it has more to do with that electricity than what he brings to the passing game, which ebbed and flowed throughout last season. To that end, he'll be a highly scrutinized player this spring even if his position is secure.
What they lose
What they have back
Robinson returns as the solidified starter, and backup Devin Gardner continues to be the clear No. 2 (although, one former player said redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy throws the most catchable ball of them all).
Find consistency in a passing game that was largely erratic last year. There were some bright moments, such as Robinson's fade to Roy Roundtree that beat Notre Dame, or the three-touchdown performance (with only three incompletions) against Ohio State. But there were dips, too, against Michigan State, Illinois and even Eastern Michigan.
Overall, Robinson has been one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country the past two years, but he also racked up 15 picks last season. Only five players threw more, and each of those guys attempted at least 195 more passes.
Robinson's leading receiver, Junior Hemingway, finished just 257th in the nation with 34 receptions.
Coordinator Al Borges will work with Robinson this spring to help him understand what defenses did to counter him. After all, many of the his accuracy issues were rooted in throwing into coverage or making the wrong read, rather than simply missing his target.
As for Gardner, he will continue to be seasoned for his presumed takeover of the offense in 2013 -- and, as is always a concern when starting a dual-threat quarterback, he's always just a hit away from entering the game. Bringing him along is a priority, and that could include more looks in the deuce formation that got him on the field last season.