Michigan Football: Denard Robinson Is the Key to a Big Season in Ann Arbor

Ryan Phillips@@RumorsandRantsContributor IIIAugust 7, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to pass against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Denard Robinson has been a dynamic talent for the Michigan Wolverines during his three seasons in Ann Arbor. But he could be saving his best for last, as the way he performs during his senior year will determine whether Michigan is in the hunt for a national title. 

Robinson's completion percentage dropped to 55.0 in 2011, after it was up at 62.5 in 2010. He also threw for 2,173 yards last season after tossing 2,570 through the air in 2010. His touchdowns increased from 18 to 20, but so did his interceptions, from 11 to 15. 

It wasn't just his passing yards that took a hit in 2011, Robinson also rushed for 1,176 yards after having 1,702 in 2010. But upped his touchdown total to 16 from 14 in 2010. 

But while Robinson's numbers declined under new offensive coordinator Al Borges, the Wolverines were far better as a team. But this year as a senior in his second season under Borges and head coach Brady Hoke, Robinson should be better, as should the Wolverines. 

Michigan finished 11-2 last season and topped Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl 23-20 in overtime. This year the Wolverines have their eyes on a bigger prize and Robinson will be the key to getting there. 

Robinson needs to play a Cam Newton-like role for Michigan this season. Not only does he need to put up great numbers, but he has to come through in clutch situations. 

The Wolverines open the season against Alabama on national television. If they win that game they will have the inside track on a berth in the BCS Championship Game. Robinson must lead the way from under center and put himself firmly in the Heisman Trophy race. 

If he can do that, Michigan has an excellent shot at winning the Big Ten and maybe something even bigger.