Watching Michigan try to stay competitive against Nebraska on Saturday without Denard Robinson was painful, and that issue won't go away if he does get hurt again.
According to The Associated Press (per Sports Illustrated), Robinson is expected to play this Saturday against Minnesota after aggravating a nerve in his right elbow. Brady Hoke said in the report that "He should be fine. He should be ready to go on Saturday."
That's good news for Wolverines fans, but that doesn't mean everything is OK. Hoke mentions that Robinson's arm gets "numb and tingly." Given that it's his throwing arm, that could be an issue whether he thinks he's healthy now or not.
The report also states that "The team's medical staff is working on protective equipment that Robinson can wear in an attempt to prevent his throwing arm from getting banged up again in the same spot." Unless the padding is completely impenetrable, Robinson won't be untouchable. Anything helps, but Michigan must prepare for the worst.
Hoke mentions that Devin Gardner will receive more snaps at practice this week, something that Michigan fans are probably pleased to hear. Current backup quarterback Russell Bellomy went 3-of-16 for 38 yards and three interceptions on Saturday, drawing the ire of the Wolverines' fanbase.
If Bellomy plays like that again, don't rule out a Golden Gophers upset. The team is riding high after a big win over Purdue on Saturday, and its home crowd will help.
Playing Bellmoy again may be the logical choice, but Gardner may be the better idea. He hasn't attempted a pass in 2012, but he's 18-of-33 for his career. Plus, his abilities match up well with Robinson's dual-threat talents, making the transition much easier for Michigan's skill players and offensive line.
On the other hand, moving Gardner to quarterback eliminates one of Michigan's best receivers and playmakers on the outside.
The Wolverines are at a severe disadvantage without Robinson at the helm. It doesn't matter who is behind center, Robinson means everything to this team. Any game that he's not behind center is a possible loss, and there's no way around that right now.
After Bellomy's dreadful performance on Saturday, he could be shaky against Minnesota. Nebraska's defense is much tougher to play against, but a terrible game can play on a signal-caller's psyche.
Gardner hasn't played quarterback this year, but he can't get much worse than Bellomy last week.
Robinson might be healthy when the game begins on Saturday, but one hit could change that very quickly. If he goes down, Hoke needs to be confident in his quarterback change. A team can't wither and die because one player goes down.
There isn't a great second option available, but Gardner and Bellomy better be ready this time around.