Michigan Football: Secondary's 3 Keys to Containing Allen Robinson
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Making a claim as the Big Ten's premier ball-catcher, Penn State receiver Allen Robinson has given opponents fits through the first seven weeks of the 2013 season.
The Nittany Lions junior averages an astonishing 124 yards per game, the best clip in the league, and he already has 621 total yards and five touchdowns to his credit.
As quarterback Christian Hackenberg's go-to receiver, Robinson is six points in the making each time he stretches the field.
Will Michigan hold Robinson below his average of 124 ypg?
And if the No. 18-ranked Wolverines aren't careful on Saturday in Happy Valley, they'll become Robinson's next victims.
The following video highlight demonstrates Robinson's speed, athleticism and...oh, enough of the football jargon. The guy can fly and catch the ball just about anytime he wants to. He's that good.
Roll the footage.
Watching Robinson crush the competition in normal speed is one thing, but seeing still photos of his work provides a much better understanding and appreciation of the young star's pro-ready skill set.
The following photo is a screen grab from Robinson's highlight reel from MockingNFLDraft (via YouTube). The graphics were added by yours truly in an attempt to illustrate the Penn State speedster's effectiveness.
There's more jargon again.
The photos show how he separates himself from coverage at will; he lets his extraordinary pair of hands and great stride do the talking.
There. That's better. Keeping it simple is the best policy. Robinson can play football. How's that?
Know Robinson's Location
This is a case of something being easier said than done.
Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison can team up with secondary coach Curt Mallory and devise an A-1 game plan, but Robinson isn't exactly the type of receiver who can be game-planned against.
He improvises. He adjusts—and that's done prior to catching the ball. After he makes the grab, Robinson turns into Houdini and disappears.
Note: In the video (1:38-1:42), Robinson travels outside of the camera's vision, only to reappear near the Hawkeyes logo, ball in hand and six points on the board for Penn State.
Keep Robinson in Front of Defensive Backs
Again, this is easier said than done.
If Robinson routinely surges past defensive backs, the Wolverines will have little to no chance of catching him.
Although not out-of-this-world fast, Robinson's 4.54-second 40-yard dash is respectable. He has a long stride that creates a cushion between him and defenders.
Wolverines corners Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess face the task of keeping Robinson in front of them. Countess is among the national leaders with four picks, and Taylor, a rising talent in Mattison's defense, has proved to be physical in coverage.
Along with safeties Jarrod Wilson and Courtney Avery, the Wolverines have an adequate last line of defense to engage Robinson.
However, the following screen grab illustrates just how easily he can compromise an opposing secondary.
Although a safety is in position to make the tackle, Robinson effortlessly eludes him and goes for a touchdown. This is why keeping him in front of defensive backs is important.
Focus on What He Could Do
The Wolverines haven't allowed a receiver to go full tilt, but some, such as Akron's Zach D'Orazio, have made them pay. Although his team lost 28-24, D'Orazio finished with six catches for 97 yards (long of 30) and a touchdown, his second-best line of the season.
During Notre Dame's 41-30 loss, T.J. Jones racked up nine catches for 94 yards (long of 23) and a touchdown.
Not to knock Jones and D'Orazio, but they're not at Robinson's level. Surrendering about 214 yards per game, Michigan has the Big Ten's No. 5-ranked pass defense.
Robinson, the 2012 Big Ten receiver of the year, can account for about half of that on Saturday in Happy Valley if he's not given proper attention and respect.
Note: Screen grabs were obtained from a highlight video posted by YouTube user MockingNFLDraft, who used footage from ESPN. Illustrative graphics were provided by the writer of this article.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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