If only Denard Robinson could play Air Force every week.
Robinson went off against the Air Force Falcons on Saturday, completing 14-of-25 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception while carrying the ball 20 times for 218 yards and two long touchdowns, a 79-yard run in the first quarter and a 58-yard scamper to start the third quarter.
But he did it against Air Force, not exactly an elite football team.
We saw what Robinson could do against an elite program in Week 1, and while he accounted for two touchdowns against the Crimson Tide (one passing, one rushing), he was held to 27 yards on the ground and picked off twice.
Ok, Alabama is the best team in the country and boasts a defense that could probably hold its own against some NFL offenses, so maybe that’s not entirely fair to use as a point of reference.
Let’s go back to 2011 and see how Denard did against some of the better teams on Michigan’s schedule.
Heading into Week 7, the Wolverines were 6-0 and loving life as they prepared to take on the rival Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
Instead of leading Michigan to victory in what would have been a huge statement, Robinson wilted. Sure he scored two touchdowns, but neither his 9-of-24 for 123 yards nor the 42 yards on 18 carries he picked up resulted in a W for the Wolverines.
How about in the Sugar Bowl, against Virginia Tech?
Two more touchdowns (both passing), but Robinson was 9-of-21 for 117 yards in the air and picked up 13 yards on 13 carries as Michigan won in overtime, 23-20.
There’s a trend here, and it’s not a good one.
Against the best teams in the country, Denard Robinson is a shell of the player we saw against Air Force.
He still has a chance to buck that trend, to prove that he can lead the Wolverines to victory when the wins mean the most.
With games left on the schedule against Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State, he will have ample opportunity to show that he is indeed worthy of inclusion in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
But does anyone really believe that he will?
Heisman Trophy candidates are able to put their teams on their shoulders and say “I’ve got this” regardless of the team on the other side of the field—and they back those words up with their play.
Robinson can’t say that because, quite simply, those words would be meaningless.
Much like the games that Robinson decides to show up for.