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?
Day 1: Receivers/tight ends
Day 2: Quarterbacks
Day 3: Offensive line
Day 4: Tailbacks/fullbacks
Day 5: Linebackers
Day 6: Defensive backs
Day 7: Defensive line
Day 8: Specialists
"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.
Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.
<a href="http://wolverineforce.blogspot.com/" rel='nofollow'>http://wolverineforce.blogspot.com/</a> this blog has a few articles about the 2012 season by position. I wish Bellomy was our #2. Gardner is super athletic, but he's just so unpolished.
Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.
I predict Gardner wins the position - either in fall practice or during the season. If we have to wait for the latter, then we will be in for more tough games.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.
I predicted Brady Hoke would be coach and he is, thank God, now I am predicting that Russell Bellomy will become one of the best quarter backs to ever play for the U of M.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.
Hey, did the font and layout down here change or did my iPad just blow up? Looks like the " "vote" frame is messed up on my display now. I don't know what the "vote" means, that's all my screen shows. Thumbs up or down? I can't tell. Would like to see Denard fly on a post pattern out of one of those Deuce formations and Devin or Bellomy hit him in stride. Denard yes, please step into your throws instead of off your right heel. I love you, man.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.
yah- whenenver they put denard in it was just to decoy- why not throw him the ball? He has huge hands and great athleticism- I'm sure he can catch the ball. We all knw he can run like no other. Also, what good is a decoy if you never use it.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.
Russell Bellamy is the real thing and it's great to know he is on our team...he could knock a fly off the goalpost from 50 yds. It will be great to see him play some second halves as most of our games will surely be out of reach from the opponent by then. MgoBlueForTiM.....packaging the three best quarterbacks in the nation...
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.
Bellamy is said in the article to have the "most catchable ball'. He has great wheels, is 6'3 or 6'4, He had a 4.0 in high school and good sat scores. I think we'll see a lot of him in 2013 and he'll star in 2014. he has all the makings of an excellent pro style QB. Shane Morris will push but I don't think he'll start until 2015-2016 when our O line weighs an average of 400 lbs each, the full back is 300 lbs, the RB 250. and the WE's are 6'4 and fast.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.
BELLAMY has got great wheel's to. . . he will push DG. GO BLUE!!!!!!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.
Just a suggestion: Lets keep talking about how hopeless Michigan is against Alabama. The Mighty Red Tide is invincible, we know. With such poor quarterbacks and poor coaching, surely Michigan should just concede this game vs Alabama and go on to the rest of their schedule, right? (Psst, what does a package for that game cost?) While we're at it, we might as well give up on the games against Ohio and Michigan State too. Alabama, MSU and OSU: three "certain losses" right there. I mean, who is dumb enough to doubt Dantonio and his crew? And Unbeatable Urban Meyer (except for some previous losses to Michigan) is now at the helm down there in Colobus, Ohio. Okay - back to reality. Go Blue!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.
Well I am sure if ESPN had any say in the spread of the bama Michigan game, Michigan would be a 35 point dog! I am extremely excited to see how the Defense progresses under Mattison from year 1 to 2! Go Blue!!!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.
Good reporting...and YES - Go Blue is reality !
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.
Good point Tru2blu. I'm sure that has been Boise's approach over the last 3 or 4 seasons as well. ; )
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.
In my opinion, the 3 main areas of focus this season will be replacing Molk, rebuilding the D-line, and most importantly, improving Denards passing game. I worry less about the O-line and D-line play because I know Hoke and staff are truly experts in those areas. If Denard is able to throw half as many pics as last year and also hone his ability to recognize running lanes on passing downs, this could be another special season. I would love to see Denard set his feet and keep his balance while delivering an 8 yard pass completion on 3rd and 6 when the defense is all out blitzing. However, if we see him falling off his back foot and flinging it up for grabs on such plays, it will not be pretty. GO BLUE!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.
No GoBig, I agree..the last paragraph that states the obvious is so true, yet we keep seeing it over and over in games (although, if you watch the last pass via ND, he was falling back and flinging) so, I guess we'll take some of the bad with the good !
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.
Well after reading what I wrote it all sounds pretty obvious. But still important none the less. : )
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.
The best part of this article, Spring Mission pretty well sums it up. I especially like the "Coordinator Al Borges will work with Robinson this spring to help him understand what defense did to counter him..." Sounds like watching a lot of film and really dissecting this. There's the mental aspect and then the physical mechanics of throwing the ball. I know and many of us know that Denard is working very hard to correct this. Denard played better at home especially the last two games of the season (NE & ohio). Playing as well as road will be the key because there will be more of them and we should expect more from Denard in his senior year and second year under the Borges system. If Denard can achieve this, then Michigan will surprise a lot of people. If anybody can do it and get there, Denard can. Yes, Gardner is always one play away from getting into the game and we are fortunate to have him. I commend him for staying with Michigan. I am always eager to praise Denard but a special thanks goes to Devin Gardner. Good things happen to those who wait. GO BLUE!!!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.
By surprising a lot people was meant to imply Michigan's won/lost record in 2012 because it will be a much tougher schedule. They might win more games than many of us think. I also know the loss of David Molk will hurt them some, thus more reason to believe or hope Michigan as team can over achieve...appreciate your comment Terry Star21.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.
Nice comments sprinter73. You are right on. Those Nebraska and Ohio games were the 2 best in Denard's career in my opinion. Maybe not statistically (I think Notre Dame games get those) but in terms of controlling the games and being complete QB. I thought the Sugar Bowl was a step back even though we won, maybe because of Molk's injury, maybe because of the layoff and timing issues, but I think another spring and fall practice will improve DR's technique a lot. ANd hopefully Gardner.
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.
MRunner, I like your comment with one exception.....I don't think Michigan is going to ever 'surprise a lot of people' anymore - It's The Real Thing, just like the beverage I get @ half time in concessions !
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.
You said that PERFECTLY! GO BLUE! a
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.
i love DR and he is going to have a great season but i hope we get to see a little more of DG/RB this fall. . . we are blessed at the QB position and that's not even counting SM!! GO BLUE!!!!!!
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.
And Bellamy is the real thing...stay tuned.....
Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.
this kid is a senior already! Time really flies when your having fun!