Michigan Football: Denard Robinson Must Not Return Until Completely Healthy

Ethan GrantAnalyst INovember 5, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 27: Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines is attended to by trainers after being injured during their game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Michigan started a game without Denard Robinson at QB for the first time since 2009 in a 35-13 win over Minnesota. Until he's fully healthy, it should stay that way.

Devin Gardner returned to the position he was recruited for out of high school and did an admirable job by the end of the game. He threw two touchdowns and ran for another as fans began to forget about Robinson for a brief second in the Big 10 conference win.

Robinson was ruled out late against the Golden Gophers, going so far as to warm up in full pads before the decision was made to keep him out of action with an undisclosed injury. Speculation is rampant, but many feel that the injury is some nerve damage that Michigan has been masking in recent weeks by not using a passing game that requires Robinson to test his arm. 

The move was questionable through the end of the first quarter, as the team only had nine total yards in the frame. But Gardner got it going with two long touchdown drives in the second, and found his stride as the Michigan running game took hold in the second half.

Head coach Brady Hoke made the right call by sitting his four-year starter against Minnesota.

The offense has been struggling in recent weeks. Since 44- and 45-point outputs against Illinois and Purdue, the Wolverines combined for just 21 points in two weeks against Michigan State and Nebraska.

The latter might end up costing Michigan a shot at the Big 10 title. Nebraska holds the tiebreaker over the Wolverines and would need to blow another game in order to relinquish the shot in the conference championship game.

Part of that is on Robinson, who managed just 218 yards passing with an interception over those two games. He was doing more bad than good for Michigan, despite his standing as one of the most decorated players in Big Blue history.

Michigan is still alive in the Big 10 race, although time is running out. It's clear after the win over Minnesota that Gardner's infusion of both speed and passing outweigh Robinson's.

I commend Brady Hoke for the move. It's tough to sit a guy who has led you to so many wins and even a BCS bowl berth, but he did what's best for his team.

It's time for him to do it again this weekend against Northwestern and maybe even again in two weeks over Iowa. All roads point to the Wolverines being in a quality bowl game, and their last game against Ohio State should be Robinson's final chance for a successful going away party with the Michigan faithful.

A true dual-threat QB if there ever was one, we haven't seen the last of the shoelace-free Robinson at Michigan. It's now up to the medical staff to get him ready again and for the coaching staff to continue to make the right call for the team.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R and a member of the site's Breaking News Team.