Michigan Football: Wolverines Won't Miss Toussaint with Denard Robinson at RB

Ethan GrantAnalyst INovember 19, 2012

November 17, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) lines up as a running back behind quarterback Devin Gardner (12) against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the third quarter at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 42-17. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan just keeps on rolling with Devin Gardner at quarterback. As it turned out against Iowa on Saturday, they can use Denard Robinson at running back and not miss a beat, too.

The only downfall of the team's 42-17 win over Iowa in Week 12 was the loss of running back Fitz Toussaint, who went down with a severe leg injury in the first half.

Lucky for Michigan, its converted QB can more than pick up the slack.

Robinson was a nice wrinkle in the Gardner-heavy offense, rushing for 98 yards on 13 carries. He had several nice runs, including a 40-yard gain and a playground-type play where he reversed field and managed to turn what would have been a five-yard play into something that picked up 15.

Heading into this week's game against rival Ohio State, it's clear that Michigan is going to need to bust out the big guns. Ohio State has several close wins in clutch situations, including Week 12's overtime win over Wisconsin.

Gardner and Robinson are going to be the focal point of that attack, and for good reason. Gardner shined again for Michigan against Iowa, accounting for six total touchdowns and quickly making fans forget about all that Robinson has done over the past four years.

It's easy to play the what if game, but what if Michigan would have been using the duo like this earlier on in 2012? It's a scary thought, but one that has enough promise to finish the season in that same manner.

It will have to be much of the same against Ohio State, when Robinson will be thrust into a larger role as the speed back behind the new starter.

Right now, the offense must expand behind Gardner. Ohio State now has three games of film on the QB-turned-WR-turned-QB, and will be ready for the down-the-field passes after he escapes pressure. Gardner has similar pocket presence to that of Johnny Manziel, so the Buckeyes will certainly have their hands full.

Throw in Robinson, surely a candidate to make an NFL roster in 2013 based purely on his speed, and the combinations in the progression of the offense are seemingly endless.

With an outside shot at a BCS berth still on the table and the program with more buzz than in recent memory, Brady Hoke is clicking on all cylinders with his decision to start Gardner, and now to leave Robinson in the backfield for more than a couple plays per game.

Pass protection and inside running will be a concern, but this is the move that we could look back on and say helped take down Ohio State.

That's always a positive conversation in Ann Arbor.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.