Michigan Football: Notre Dame Highlights Disturbing Trend for Denard Robinson

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 23, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines is tackled by cornerback Bennett Jackson #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Those who have followed Denard Robinson closely throughout his career at Michigan know one thing: when defenses limit him on the ground and force him to air it out, more often than not he's a completely different player and, quite frankly, not worthy of Heisman consideration.

Notre Dame's 13-6 defeat of Michigan on Saturday night was further proof.

Robinson went 13-of-24 for 138 yards while throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble against the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Then again, you could have predicted something like that given he needed 26 carries to rush for 90 yards (3.5 yards per carry). This is consistent with many of his performances in the past.

Last season, as I've mentioned before, Robinson struggled when he faced tough run defenses.

He was limited to 42 yards on 18 carries against Michigan State—he went 9-of-24 for 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Illinois held him to 30 yards on 12 carries—he passed for 92 yards and an interception. And Virginia Tech stopped him for just 13 yards on 13 carries in the Sugar Bowl—he went 9-of-21 for 117 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

When Robinson explodes he truly explodes, in the passing attack and in the running game. But you take away his running game and you highlight his inconsistent accuracy and his haphazard decision-making in the pocket. In turn, his entire game tends to implode.

I predicted Notre Dame over Michigan earlier this week precisely because of this reason. The Fighting Irish—led by inside linebacker Manti Te'o—had held opponents to 3.0 yards per carry headed into the matchup with the Wolverines. It was almost inevitable that the home team would come out on top.

Teams with strong run defenses will continue to frustrate Robinson until he improves his consistency in the pocket.


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