Michigan Football: Offense Still a Concern Despite 44-13 Rout

Joel GreerCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2012

Fitz Toussaint (28)
Fitz Toussaint (28)Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan's offense scored four touchdowns and added three field goals Saturday, but the coaching staff can't be totally pleased.

Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson bounced back from his horrendous performance at Notre Dame, gaining 235 yards on the ground, completing a pair of touchdown passes and, best of all, tossing no interceptions.

His 235 rushing yards gave him 3,905 for his career, which moved him past Antwaan Randle El (Indiana, 1998 to 2001) into fourth place on the NCAA all-time career rushing list. Robinson has a good chance of passing Pat White's (West Virginia, 2005 to 08) 4,480 yards before he completes his career this season.

Robinson will finish with several Michigan records, but the speedy signal-caller can't win every game by himself.

The Wolverines should get past Illinois (2-4, 0-2) this Saturday with a steady diet of Shoelace scampers and timely passes, but Michigan State (4-2, 1-1) is on the horizon Oct. 20. The Spartans, who had little trouble corralling Robinson the last two seasons, have now won four straight in the series.

So for Michigan to end the Spartan streak, someone else must step up to the plate.

Fitz Toussaint, who became a reliable running back last season, has been a disappointment this fall. Sure, he scored two touchdowns at Purdue on a pair of one-yard runs, but he was only able to muster 19 yards on 17 carries.  His numbers for the season aren't much better. The 5'10", 222-lb redshirt junior has rushed for only 169 yards on 53 carries, a 3.2 average. 

One wonders if there are any after effects from his alcohol-related legal issues over the summer, or if it's Michigan's insistence of running the read-option most of the time.

If Toussaint (who gained 192 yards at Illinois last year), doesn't show some improvement next week, watch for powerback Thomas Rawls to get more carries. At 5'10", 220 lbs, Rawls might be ready for prime time. He looked extremely sharp during "garbage time" Saturday, powering through would-be tacklers on a nifty 19-yard run, then closing the deal with a seven-yard touchdown burst.  

Rawls has only carried the ball 29 times in his brief Michigan career, but he already resembles Anthony Thomas, the great Michigan power runner from 1997 to 2000. 

Although Devin Gardner still aspires to be the Michigan quarterback, he continues to be impressive as a receiver. Gardner caught another touchdown pass Saturday, giving him a team-leading four for the season.

Jeremy Gallon is rapidly becoming the versatile player Vincent Smith was a year ago. A talented high school quarterback, Gallon leads the team in receptions with 14, runs reverses, and returns punts. Maybe he should have thrown the halfback pass in the Notre Dame game. 

In the future,  Michigan's most exciting player might be freshman Dennis Norfleet, who returned a kickoff 38 yards against Purdue. Several times this season the speedster from Detroit appeared to be one step away from returning one for a touchdown. Look for the last-minute recruit to eventually work his way into the lineup as a slot receiver or running back.