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Posted on Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Top 5 observations on Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who won another national college football award Sunday

By Pete Bigelow


Sam Wolson | The Michigan Daily

Two weeks ago, Denard Robinson hadn’t even been named the Michigan football team’s starting quarterback. Now, he’s a national sensation and an early Heisman Trophy candidate.

For the second straight week, he was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week on Sunday.

No player has ever won it two weeks in a row. The last player to win it twice in a three-week span was Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell in 2008.

Through two games, Robinson has accounted for 885 yards of total offense, including 502 yards in Saturday’s 28-24 win over Notre Dame. Here are five more observations about his fast start and outing Saturday:

1. Calvin Magee is managing him perfectly

Last year, part of Robinson’s troubles were attributed to freshman inexperience and poor mechanics. But Michigan also placed him in the game him in obvious passing situations -- and defenders teed off on his deep throws.

This year, Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee has developed game plans that highlight Robinson’s strengths perfectly, a mix of short curl routes and mid-range throws that have higher percentages of success, and balancing that with an effective Robinson-led rushing attack.

2. Robinson’s passing won Saturday’s game

A lot of the focus has been on Robinson’s speed and acceleration while running the football. But it was his passing that won Saturday’s game for the Wolverines.

He was 5-of-6 passing for 55 yards on the all-important final Michigan drive, and spread the ball around to three different receivers -- Michael Shaw, Darryl Stonum and Roy Roundtree -- on that drive.

3. Heisman hopeful

“I’m not getting into the Heisman stuff,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said after Saturday’s game. “He’s not ready.”

It’s a fair point. But really, there’s no other player in the country who has generated as much excitement as Robinson the first two weeks of the college football season.

You could argue -- I would argue -- that Robinson’s not only a contender at this point, but the early frontrunner. Preseason contender Jake Locker of Washington has put up some big numbers, but they’re not as big as Robinson’s and the Huskies lost to BYU.

Perhaps at this early juncture, Robinson’s chief competitors are Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, either of whom are compelling counterparts.

4. Now it’s time for rest

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping numbers Robinson has produced so far aren’t his yardage totals, but his passing attempts and carries.

Rich Rodriguez conceded it was excessive when he carried 29 times against UConn and threw 21 passes -- for 51 total touches. Against Notre Dame, his running workload was cut to 28 carries, but he threw the football 40 times for 68 total touches.

“Shoelace got a lot of carries, but we needed him right there,” Magee said.

No question he’s right. But with UMass and Bowling Green up next, it’s time for Robinson to rest up for the Big Ten portion of the schedule. If he’s plays past halftime next week, it’d be a huge surprise.

5. No mistakes

This relates to No. 1, but Robinson has done what Michigan needed most entering the season. That’s protect the football. No Big Ten team was worse than the Wolverines last year in turnover ratio, and it was a big emphasis entering training camp.

Robinson has not committed a turnover through two games.

He did fumble against the Fighting Irish, but Michigan recovered. But more importantly, he’s thrown no interceptions, which is a big improvement after he threw four in 31 pass attempt as a freshman.

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

In the NFL, the average running back's career is 2 1/2 years, the average QB's career is ~8-10 years. It doesn't take much to figure out that the pounding of running into people at full speed while they are running into you at full speed is not in the best interest of your long term health. That being said, RR is coaching for his life and he will NOT let up. You will probably see DRob out of each of the next 2 games, assuming we don't play down to the level of the competition, but once the B10 season get's rolling, it will be all DRob all the time. Also, some one mentioned how the RB's aren't getting the ball because it's a read option offense and DRob isn't giving the ball the RB's. That's not true. It WAS true last year when Tate was playing, we ran a lot of read options. This year though, designed QB runs are the norm. The play used as an example is a poor one, since that was a pass off a fake QB run, not a read option. The RB's aren't getting any yards because they stink. This shouldn't surprise anyone since Shaw stunk last year and Smith is coming off reconstructive knee surgery. Smith MAY be back next year. I'm pinning my hope on Toussant in the meantime.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

Tater, Tater, Tater Trying to convince yourself that a running qb doesn't get hit? Ask a running back if he gets hit hard. How many rb's did UM go through last year? 5 maybe. Please, I would much rather here from sparty or trolls or any other people you hate. Atleast we would get an intelligent response.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

Tater, Let me jog your memory.Last year Tate was the greaatest thing since sliced bread,won the first 4 games,then for whatever reason hit a wall,i think he was worn out a little,from doing just like Mr Robinson is doing.Its a contact sport.The more times he gets hit,the more times its a good chance he gets injured.In major college football,no team will go the entire year without your QB getting hurt,plus you don't get to work on your depth.It has nothing to do with trools,naysayers.Where did the lack of class come from.Tater are you in GRADE SCHOOL or what.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

The statement that this is a spread or option system, so don't worry about the QB running it 30 times a game... well, I believe that's a little optimistic. Two games, and twice the back up QB has had to warm up. Granted DR has only had the wind knocked out of him, but it was a big shot that knocked the wind out of him. It will only take a different angle... and you have Matthew Stafford. Running this guy this much will wear him down. This is football. DR looks great, and is fun to watch... but RR needs to take some of the pressure off him.

Lorain Steelmen

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

Hey, all this Heisman talk is just that, 'talk' But it's fun. UM must have two or three kids at every postion, and QB is cetainly no different. Forcier AND Gardner will get plenty of PT as the season unfolds. No Heisman for any of them....but plenty of wins. UM will win 10 games with a shot to take all 12. The problem for UM is the weak defensive backfield, and kicking game. The coaches will have to shore this up, on the fly, but there is no super team in this league, so they have as good a chance to win the title as anyone.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

Tater- Someone comments that running the QB 28 times a game might result in injury shows they have no class? How do you figure that?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

Well, let's all say and agree that DR had an amazing 2 weeks so far, and not just running the ball (though that 87 yard run looked better than any run since Tyrone Wheatley split the Washington defense in the Rose Bowl 1993). And let's say that DR so far is the kind of QB that RR has been waiting for. But let's also look at other Michigan QBs this weekend and give them applause. Threet threw for 391 yards in ASU's victory over Northern Arizona community college and Mallett threw for 400 yards in their game against the bible college of Arkansas. That's a lot of yards for UM quarterbacks. But it begs the question--how could Threet have done if he'd been given good coaching and patience, rather than treated as square peg in round hole? I'm happy for those guys, and happy for this current team. If DR gets hurt, will RR be able to adjust to the personnel? History would indicate not likely, but as the RR supporters have stated over and over again, he is building his program his way and he just may be getting his own personnel in place (while sacrificing all pre-RR people).


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

"We will most likely win the next 2 games" Now 3 and Out when you say we, are you referring to Stanford? That is the team you are rooting for now right?

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Don't be silly. A passer may get hit 8-10 extra times if his line isn't doing a good job. And Robinson has averaged more than 20 throws, so he's getting those hits, too. It's not like he can magically avoid them when he's throwing. We're talking 50-60 touches per game, combined. If you understood football, you'd understand that even a guy who is obviously tough is going to have trouble standing up to that kind of beating week after week. It's unfortunate that the MSU and OSU fans here are trying to pump up our lame-duck coach at any cost.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:28 a.m.

Tater, I don't think you watch or understand much about football. But that's OK. We accept beginners and football veterans here.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

boy oh boy, the picture at the top of this article sure looks like the Heisman pose -. Coincidence? I think not.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:58 p.m.

@GoblueinNE_PA, I guess I should clarify to include Navy as a different case, in that their quarterbacks average less than ten throws a game. The triple option requires a quarterback built like a tank. Dobbs still averaged less carries than D-Rob (24 per game last year) and is the NCAA's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns for a quarterback. Frazier averaged eight carries per game, Frost twelve. Even the conventional option quarterbacks don't carry that much. Michigan runs a spread variation a lot like a pistol, only with an emphasis on the quarterback zone-read runs. I realize it has been incredibly effective over two games, but that pace will destroy a little guy like Robinson. He cannot run 340 times this year (I'd say 370, but at that pace there won't be a bowl game for him to play in). I believe 340 would set the NCAA record for quarterbacks, my guess is Dobbs set it last year at 315 in 13 games, and he doesn't have to throw the ball much.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:57 p.m.

boy oh boy, the picture at the top of this article sure looks like the Heisman pose -. Coincidence? I think not.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

To all the fans who are worried abou tfinding another running attack other than Denard Robinson: Stop worrying about it. This is an OPTION READ offense. Denard is running the ball so much because the defenses are BITING on the fakes. You have to understand that once teams stop biting on those fakes and start looking to shut this kid down, it's going to open up huge lanes for our tailbacks to run through. This is EXACTLY what happened to Pat White (not to this extent but the point is still valid). Once people respoected Pat White's ability to take off, lanes opened up for the other players to persue. Denard has proven himself. Defenses are gunning for him. They think it is a one-man show. Defenses are ripe for getting burned when he hands it off... trust me. Did you see that run fake when he passed it to Roundtree for the touchdown? That isn't even the best example but it shows what I am talking about. I have yet to see a defense run a QB spy on Denard. They will do that and once they do, it becomes 11 vs 10 when Denard decides not to keep the ball. Game over!


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 7:48 p.m.

I wonder if they'll mix in some option plays? With the defense focusing in on Denard a pitch would go for a big play.


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

All the Heisman talk is way too early. We'll see how he's doing 1/2 through the season and make another judgement then. Agree with everyone who says the coaches MUST find a running attack from some other player or players so we're not relying completely on Robinson. We need someone to step forward who can reliably get 100 yards a game. I wasn't impressed with either Shaw or Smith against ND. Shaw runs too tentatively and Smith was simply manhandled by the ND defenders. I hope they give Cox and Touissaint a shot. Maybe the next two games would be a good chance for D-Rob to fine tune his passing game.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

I was coming back from Columbus today,and listening to the radio.I think its Ohio State main Radio station,called the Fan 97.1.They were already talking about Mr Robinson,i guess his jersey number 16 has already sold in all the stores,so they are alrady worried about him.I said this a week ago,and will say it again.Rich cannot run this kid into the ground.The next 2 weeks he should play 1 maybe 2 quarters and thats it.Ohio State was not that impressive in the Miami game,the QB threw 4 ints,and 2 were because the wide outs ran the wrong way.5 fricking field goals,and missed a 6th one.So they are not all that.They can be beat.I also told you Rich had Brian Kelly's number.Good luck the rest of the way,but Rich has to rest this kid.But Rich is such a hard head,like in the press conference making fun about how many times he ran Denard.Hope it doesn't come back to haunt him in the end.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 7:24 p.m.

Macabre, Navy's QB has carried the ball 54 times this season. Back in the day, I bet Tommy Frazier or Scott Frost had at least that many carries in consecutive games. It happens when you run an option offense. I'll admit I was wrong on both of the first two games, I thought we'd be looking at 0-2 now. I also didn't think DRob was right at QB. I was wrong on that too. That being said, if that kid gets hurt, we're done. Neither Tate nor Devin will be able to carry the load if DRob goes down. Our RB position is pathetic. If we have to rely on them to generate a ground game, we're done. We'll be back to throwing the ball constantly which I don't think it Devin's game. From the film I've seen of him, he needs work. He's got a very awkward release. Tate maybe able to get it done, but I don't think he'll see the field unless it's a last resort. I think we'll win the next two games, but we'll struggle once DRob leaves the game. I hope Touissant turns out to be something because Shaw and Smith stink and Cox must be horrible otherwise he'd get a look.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

All you have to do is be in on ONE play and your red-shirt is burned, unless there is a medical condition, for which you would have to apply for a medical red-shirt. The reason Gardner is playing is because he's the second best QB on the team.Tate gambled and turned the ball over too much last year and then didn't even work diligently to improve his game during the off-season.Sorry, but I place alot more faith in the coaches that see these guys play and practice everyday.Heck, most of you armchair QB's didn't even think Denard was a QuarterBack.That being said, it doesn't mean Tate can't improve and jump back ahead of Devin, there will be playing time for both in these next 2/3 games.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:42 p.m.

As defined by the NCAA, this from a Q&A on their site: "You should know that NCAA rules indicate that any competition, regardless of time, during a season counts as one of your seasons of competition in that sport. It does not matter how long you were involved in a particular competition (for example, one play in a football game, one point in a volleyball match); you will be charged with one season of competition." Medical redshirts are a different story. I believe the cut off is 20% of the season.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

Notre Dame rushing (QBs & RBs) totals 154 yards 1 TD Denard's rushing 258 yards 2 TDs!


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:13 p.m.

michmash, Are you sure? It would be nice to keep him for another year since it's clear that Denard is the QB for this team for the forseeable future. Tate is, imo, more than a reliable backup capable of getting the job done if needed. Like Denard, he carried the team to victory over ND last season. Anyway, the next two weeks will be matched in level of excitement and competitiveness only by the Delaware St. and EMU games of last season as UM moves to 4-0. I can't wait for the Big Ten season to start to get a guage of where this team is really at. At least the MSU/ND game next week will be interesting and will give us a clearer picture of a future opponent (MSU) as well as how good the team UM beat yesterday really is. By the way, does anyone know if the UMass game is on any TV next week?


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:03 p.m.

MichMash can you explain that red-shirt point you made? Or can someone explain that red-shirt point that MichMash made?


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

Gardner can play in the next game and still not have burned his red shirt...

Carpenter Ant

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

Denard's doing a decent Heisman trophy pose in that top photo. If his right foot was on the turf, if he was directly facing the photographer, and if he was pointing his right palm directly at the photographer, his pose would be nearly perfect.

David Briegel

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 4:34 p.m.

The Legend of Denard, VOL I, 400 Yds The Legend of Denard, VOL II, 502 Yds Wow, Rich Rod would be wise to work on the kicking game and the dbacks. They will also need a real running game to win in the Big 10!

3 And Out

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

We will most likely win the next 2 games...hopefully RR has the sense to get Tate some reps and Devin also, now that he has burned Devin's redshirt. The defense will give up some pts and yds to these smaller schools but hopefully we have enough in the tank offensively to not have to rely on Denard carrying this team. The BT schedule is tough and hopefully the weather is good for this september offense to succeed.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Hopefully, the next two games will provide some respite. I doubt any quarterback in the modern era (as in since the advent of the forward pass) has rushed 57 times in two games. Pat White (now a minor leaguer in the Kansas City Royals system) never ran 28 times in one game. But he won't get that rest in the Big Ten, where the defenders are as physical as Te'o from Notre Dame. It's going to wear him down quickly. Those bruises are going to add up and affect his throwing, which means fewer lanes to run in as defenses adjust. I don't see any Heisman in his future, though he's clearly in the lead after two weeks. I'd hate to underestimate Massachusetts. This is a ranked I-AA school from a conference that rates better than the MAC or the Sun Belt. It's far more likely Bowling Green will lay down for a 42-7 beating than UMass.