Michigan vs Notre Dame: Denard Robinson Is Key to Wolverines' Fate in South Bend

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIISeptember 20, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 08:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a 31-25 win over the Air Force Falcons with his teammates at Michigan Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines have no chance to knock off Notre Dame without a strong game from Denard Robinson. We know he'll account for a huge piece of the Wolverines' attack, but playing with restraint is the best thing he can do to help his team.

Minimizing turnovers is the major area he must focus on to improve Michigan's chances of winning on Saturday night. The opportunity to make plays with his legs will be there. In order to make those chances more impacting, he can't put his team behind the eight-ball with interceptions.

Robinson has been picked off four times in three games. He's thrown at least one in every game this season. So while he's been spectacular on one hand, accounting for 1,050 total yards and 10 touchdowns, he's had some lapses as well.

The Irish defense has been stingy and opportunistic thus far. They've only allowed 10 points per game to their three opponents. Forcing turnovers has been a key aspect of their defense's effectiveness. They have forced seven miscues from their three opponents.

If Robinson isn't careful, he'll play into his Achilles' Heel and the Irish's strong suit at the same time. The Irish defense has solid team speed, and Robinson will likely see a ton of zone coverages in passing situations. He needs to make solid decisions to check down, and to throw the ball away when the play isn't there.

Oftentimes, spectacular athletes like Robinson have a hard time giving up on a play. They always believe they can make something out of nothing. At times, he may find success, but it isn't the high-percentage approach. 

If he maintains solid fundamentals and doesn't try to make plays with his arm when there is no opening, he can limit or eliminate the threat of turnovers. The interception at the 1:32 mark of the video below is an example of a throw he can't make on Saturday.

Michigan was backed up into their own end zone against Alabama, already trailing by a ton, and Robinson fires the ball into tight coverage.

When Robinson picks his spots, he is a very capable passer, but when he tries to force the ball into small windows, he makes these types of errors. He isn't a precision quarterback—he never has been and he probably never will be.

That said, he does have gifts that very few—if any—quarterbacks have ever had. He must keep the bad from outweighing the good on Saturday night. Simply avoiding turnovers is the key to a Michigan victory, and that starts with Robinson.


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