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Michigan QB Denard Robinson must improve his aerial assault of defenses, and can do so by reducing his interception total (15)
I know, it wouldn't be a Michigan football conversation without highlighting QB Denard Robinson. However, I include him because I really feel he hasn't fully achieved his highest level of play.
"Shoelace" led the team in rushing with 221 carries for 1,176 yards, as well as in passing with 2,173 yards and 20 touchdowns. He took the team to the Sugar Bowl, and delivered a win over Virginia Tech 23-20 in OT.
So how can he overachieve in 2012 if he turned in such explosive numbers in 2011? Simple, his play against top-tier defenses needs to greatly improve. This year, the Wolverines kick off against Alabama and must utilize the opportunity to make a quality first impression.
The offense has been centered around Denard for two full years, but his success at Michigan will be truly determined on his senior season. He now has had the chance to grow and learn in offensive coordinator Al Borges' system over a full season.
Looking ahead, Denard has key games against Alabama (9/1 at Texas Stadium), at Notre Dame (9/22), hosting Michigan State (10/20) and closing the year at Ohio State (11/24). He's proven he can torch the average defense, but Robinson will need to step up his efficiency in big games.
I think that he should turn more of his ground presence over to the aforementioned Touissaint. That will allow his rushing attempts to be more improvised and harder to defend.
His success will fall on the output he can gain from his throwing arm. Robinson can improve by limiting his interceptions (15 last year). Surely, if he protects the ball better the Wolverines will have a more balanced attack that doesn't force him to try to run to victory.
This mentality has proven ineffective against the Big Ten's best. Against Michigan State in 2011, Denard rushed 18 times for a measly 42 yards.
He can definitely improve his pocket presence and ability to read opposing defenses, admittedly no easy task. But as he grows more comfortable in Borges' system, he will elevate the talent surrounding him (think, senior WR Roy Roundtree, QB Devin Gardner) to its best level of play in years.
This is a very steep task for the Michigan quarterback. Many teams await "Shoelace" with specific strategy to slow him, and he carries the most pressure of any player for the Wolverines.
Yet, he is the biggest star Ann Arbor has to lean on at the moment. And he must play better than ever for his team to contend with the nation's best.