Denard Robinson vs. Everett Golson: Which QB Will Run for More Yards?
Saturday's Michigan Wolverines-Notre Dame Fighting Irish duel features a pair of very different quarterbacks, as Bleacher Report's Adam Jacobi so eloquently pointed out earlier this week.
While Jacobi was dead-on with his assessment, it's still hard not to compare Michigan's Denard Robinson and Notre Dame's Everett Golson in at least one capacity: both can run, and both can do it well.
Golson, while developing, is dangerous on his feet, yet quite effective with his arm. Robinson, a senior, has the reputation of being one of the most-feared players in college football when it comes to the ground game.
But he's not an excellent passer.
Obviously, the experience factor and the "Legend of Shoelace" gives Robinson the edge when stacking up rushing statistics against Golson, a sophomore, but Golson has the potential to be a potent rusher as well.
Robinson Runs a 4.32-Second 40-Yard Dash
Denard Robinson is quick on his feet, so quick, that he felt that he could beat Olympic track star Usain Bolt in a 40-yard dash.
While that's certainly debatable, Robinson's football speed—and his speed when compared to others in the game—is not up for debate. He can fly and unleashes his 4.32-second 40-yard time on a weekly basis.
That lightning-quick acceleration has been enough for Robinson to rush his way into the Michigan record books.
"Shoelace" racked up 218 rushing yards during the Wolverines' 31-25 victory over the Air Force Falcons and tallied 106 yards in a 63-13 win over the UMass Minutemen.
But let's take a look at what he's done with his legs against the Irish:
2011: Michigan won 35-31, and Robinson rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
2010: Michigan won 28-24, and Robinson rattled off 258 rushing yards, two touchdowns— including a 87-yard touchdown scamper— on 28 carries.
2009: Michigan won 38-34, but Robinson didn't play much. He rushed for 21 yards on four carries.
So who will rush for more yards Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium? Well, if you look at Robinson's body of work, hence referencing the experience factor, it'd be easy to say Robinson.
But there are certainly more aspects to summarize.
Everett Golson Runs a 4.5-Second 40-Yard Dash -- so He's Fast, Too
Only a sophomore, Everett Golson's body of work can't be compared to Denard Robinson's.
Golson was a scout team quarterback in 2011, but emerged as the No. 1 quarterback during spring scrimmages and workouts. He reportedly runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, a respectable time, sure; but he lacks the burst and explosiveness that his opponent has.
On the surface, Golson's rushing statistics this season aren't worthy of comparing to Robinson's. But there is a reason why he doesn't have gaudy numbers via the ground game -- he can throw the ball, and is a much more effective passer than Robinson. Simply said, Golson has a better arm.
But that works to his advantage.
Because of the fact that Golson can throw the deep ball, defenses concentrate on coverage. Obviously, that gives Golson the green light to run. With safeties, linebackers and corners 20 and 30 yards deep, Golson benefits from having open lanes to work with. Robinson runs -- and runs a lot -- so defenses focus on keeping him at bay.
Michigan's defense gave up 232 yards on the ground during its 41-14 shelling in Week 1 courtesy of the Alabama Crimson Tide. TJ Yeldon led the charge with 111 yards, but Jalston Fowler contributed with 67 yards from eight carries, averaging 8.4 yards per carry.
The following week, Michigan allowed Air Force Falcons running back Cody Getz to rush for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
Apples and oranges? Yes. It's not the best way to forecast what Golson could do to Michigan; he's a quarterback, for one, and the offensive lines certainly aided Getz and Tide backs.
But Golson's run during the Notre Dame spring game gives an adequate sample of what he can do on the go.
The Michigan Defense Could Allow Golson to Go off
The accompanying video is just a little sample of Everett Golson's abilities.
Obviously, it's just practice (practice?! practice?!), but Golson shows a strong drop-back and an even stronger arm. He's extremely mobile. Remember, don't get caught up in his lack of rushing statistics this season; he has receivers that do their job, and his arm is his No. 1 option, weapon of choice or whatever else we choose to call it.
Michigan's defense could be caught scrambling and experiencing a great deal of frustration when trying to contain Golson.
The Wolverines secondary is without Blake Countess, a suitable open-field tackler with speed. If Golson dashes past the linebackers, that leaves Jordan Kovacs, J.T. Floyd, Raymon Taylor and Courtney Avery as the last line of defense.
Tackling hasn't been Michigan's strength this season. Golson isn't exactly physically imposing at 6'1", 185 pounds, but he showed the Michigan State Spartans that he's a hard tackle due to his impressive strength and balance.
If Michigan wants to stop Golson from rushing like crazy and topping its own Denard Robinson, tackling will be key.
Denard Robinson Isn't Easily Intimidated, and the Irish Defense Knows That
Several defenses have felt the wrath of the one called "Shoelace."
Robinson's 87-yard touchdown run against the Irish in 2010 was one of the most impressive outbursts of the Wolverines quarterback's career.
Even the Irish band was in awe as Robinson's braids trailed in the wind during his gallop.
Robinson has rushed for 100 or more yards 16 times since 2010—name a quarterback who's done that.
But the Irish defense has been retooled and looks stronger than it has in the past two or three years. It might be difficult for Robinson to hit the century mark this week.
Notre Dame held Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell to just 77 yards this past Saturday, and Bell is one of the country's best big backs. Stopping a 6'2', 244-pound tank is no easy task. Robinson is listed at 6', 190 pounds—do the math; Robinson is much smaller, but much faster than Bell.
If the Notre Dame defense can get a grip on Robinson, look for it to punish the Michigan quarterback with helmet-knocking hits all day Saturday.
Numbers can be crunched and tendencies can be analyzed, but Saturday comes down to one thing and one thing only when it comes to putting a plug on Robinson: Notre Dame (particularly ends and linebackers) has to catch him... if it can.
Poor tackling and consistent battles in the trenches won by the Michigan offensive line makes for the perfect storm—"Hurricane Shoelace" will be ready to take its toll and ravish Notre Dame Stadium.
An important aspect should also be touched on: Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter is out for the year with a torn Achilles, which he suffered this past Saturday against the Spartans. Matthias Farley will start in his place.
What does that mean for Robinson and Michigan? It's simple, really. The secondary is oftentimes the only unit that comes close to touching Robinson. He flies by linemen and linebackers, which leaves safeties and corners as the only players left between Robinson and pay dirt.
Without Slaughter, Notre Dame is at a slight disadvantage.
Predicting Rushing Outcomes for Robinson and Golson
As for the score, I've already predicted a 31-17ish win for Notre Dame.
But, Denard Robinson will win the rushing battle. The senior isn't concerned about personal stats or winning in-game, head-to-head battles when it comes to out-rushing the other quarterback.
Robinson routinely out-rushes entire teams, not just the opposing signal-callers or running backs. Predicting Robinson to top Everett Golson in rushing yards is as much an "expert" as saying John L. Smith is in danger of losing his job at Arkansas.
Stating. The. Obvious.
I see Robinson rushing for 80-100 yards with a touchdown; Golson could go for 50-70. But as mentioned, Golson doesn't need to use his feet as often. When he does, it's because he's scrambling while receivers break free—and then it's deep-ball time for the Irish.
For more analysis of the game, read my Irish-Wolverines preview on Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report's Adam Jacobi wrote a thought-provoking piece on the differences between Robinson and Golson; it's a great read and a necessary pregame meal for your mind, so read it.
And if you're still in the mood for every type of breakdown known to man, visit B/R's Wolverines page.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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