Michigan Football: Denard Robinson Needs a Miracle to Restore Heisman Hopes
Prior to Saturday's contest between Michigan and Alabama, we knew we were about to get a look at two quarterbacks who likely would prove to be two prime Heisman contenders in 2012.
In the end, only one of them showed up to play.
Alabama destroyed Michigan Saturday night, 41-14, making it clear that it intended on aptly defending its national title. Meanwhile, all the Wolverines proved was that they're not quite ready for the Top-10 preseason ranking they were awarded earlier this summer—and perhaps that Denard Robinson isn't quite as strong of a Heisman contender as we originally thought.
Prior to the game, Alabama's defense was well aware that Robinson would be the key to a Michigan win, according to ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein. The Crimson Tide D made it its No. 1 priority to stop him, and it won the battle, forcing Robinson into two interceptions and holding him to a single touchdown in the air and one on the ground.
A.J. McCarron, meanwhile, went 11-of-21 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Robinson, to his credit, didn't make excuses. He didn't blame anyone but himself for the loss, and en route he still hung tough, even after absorbing some brutal hits from the revamped Alabama defense. But he didn't make the throws he really needed to make, and he didn't lead the Wolverines to a much-needed win over the No. 2 team in the nation.
After the game, Robinson told the Detroit Free Press' Shawn Windsor:
I didn't make the throws that I should have made today. I feel like I didn't play as a Michigan quarterback. I feel like I've got to step it up and be more accountable.
He does have to be more accountable. A Heisman contender doesn't throw two picks against the team he really, really needs to beat.
A Heisman candidate is a player who can show up anyone else in the NCAA. A Heisman contender can compete with the No. 1 team in the nation with just as much competency as he can compete with the No. 100 team in the nation.
Undoubtedly, Robinson will have a few more chances to prove himself before this season is over. He'll get another opportunity to display the same heroics against Notre Dame as he did last season when he led the Wolverines to a stunning, come-from-behind victory—a Heisman moment if there ever was one.
He'll get chances against Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State, too. But playing against Alabama on opening weekend was the biggest stage Robinson would be on at any point this season. It was his biggest opportunity to prove that he's truly one of the best of the best, and he blew it.
What we've seen over the last two years is that Denard Robinson is good, and many a team in the NCAA would kill to have him under center; but he can't yet take down the toughest competition of all.
A Heisman contender would be able to.
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