Denard Robinson Is Man of the Big House: Michigan Has Their Guy

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 12, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines takes off on an 87 yard touchdown run against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If we grow accustomed to his pesky speed, agility, and mobility flourishing in a storied program wrapped in mystique, maybe it takes heat off an embattled Rich Rodriguez in a hostile environment, where thousands of fans suddenly went silent when Denard Robinson grabbed the spotlight.

If you haven’t noticed the star quarterback who obtained the starting nod over incumbent Tate Forcier and freshman Devin Gardner this fall, well then, you’ve finally witnessed a burgeoning superstar, instantly transforming the culture and lifting Michigan into bowl contention.

As the rain dropped softly on a Saturday afternoon, and the Notre Dame band marched in pleasantly and sounded its traditional lyrics, Robinson, a much unflappable athlete with explosiveness and vision, showcased his singular exploits and enticed us, worthy of leading an accomplished university.

He was standing inside the visitor’s tunnel, then trotted to midfield when the Wolverines were greeted with spiteful boos as the crowd serenaded sinfully. If this truly was a way to boost the intensity of Notre Dame and welcome in a new era under first-year coach Brian Kelly, then it was a beacon of disrespect in the eyesight of Robinson.

In every series, he displayed a cool attribute and contributed to his team’s dazzling performance, especially when he employed everything in Rich Rods’ playbook and accounted for two touchdowns, while he passed for another 244 yards with a touchdown to complete 24 of 40 passes.

Already, in comparison, he is the best quarterback Rodriguez has ever groomed since he cultivated Pat White, a singular and explosive athlete who served as his quarterback at West Virginia. In this lifetime, Robinson is very versatile and he’s a marquee player in Michigan’s resurgence, drawing our attention with his unparalleled feats on the field in merely two starts as the primary leader.

Armed with ultimate quickness, strength and vision, an advantage presumably challenging for opponents to neutralize or slow down, he’s a singular component and has evidently reformed the perspective by producing a school record 383 yards of total offense in his first career start. In one sequence, Robinson dropped back and fired, but on a particular play, he broke from Irish defenders for the most spectacular run late in the second quarter.

He amazingly exposed his athleticism as if he was sprinting in a 400-meter relay, when he took the snap from Michigan’s own 13, drifted to the right side of the field, made a cut and dashed past the Irish defense for the second-longest run ever by a Notre Dame opponent. It was a way to redefine tradition for Michigan, a school known for capping everlasting moments in sports. For such a drastic turnaround, Robinson is the difference maker in leading a program in a rebuilding stage to assemble a momentous foundation.

And more than anything, he rectifies the symbol of a traditional program, to cure a corroded school of tragically diminishing during Rodriguez’s disappointing era. And perhaps the facet of Robinson’s that has revitalized a sense of humanity could be an element for salvaging Rich Rods’ job status that remains uncertain.

But now that he seems to be on pace for a winnable season, his job security is the least concern when there is much at stake on a favorable schedule after knocking off two challenging teams to begin the season.

It’s much too early to tell if he’s a Heisman candidate, but with his incredible performance, it’s never too early to speculate as many of who believe Michigan can qualify for a BCS berth that he’s in conversations for the stiffed-arm statue. It’s fair to acknowledge that this may be the greatest school accomplishment.

So in theory, he cemented his status as the Heisman frontrunner as there is plenty of evidence that he has reached a rare climax in college football, something the average athlete cannot reach in an incredible career.

For the second straight week, he has reached a historic milestone in electrifying games. Listed at 6-feet, 193 pounds, he’s very muscular and agile on the field, an offensive weapon to Michigan’s advantage. By repeating greatness again, this is anything but a fluke. It’s anything but surreal. Instead, it’s a feeling of assurance and realization at a university that has been longing a bliss and competitiveness, to finally escape the misery of collapsing early in the regular-season.

When he sprinted for an electrifying 87-yard touchdown run, he installed hope in the minds of the supporters wearing blue. When he finished the day with 258 yards on the ground and 244 yards passing, he exactly stood as a remedy to a gratifying revival. The breathtaking attributes are good for a young and energetic team, still overcoming the travesty that had Michigan mired in a state of unfamiliarity.

It was a swaggering game, and it had a lot of messages—perhaps it was a statement game that the Wolverines have legitimized toughness as long as they have an exciting, speedy Robinson to conduct the heaviest task on the field.

All together, Michigan had a tallied 532 yards of total offense, and better yet, Robinson had 502 against a depleted Notre Dame in the first-half alone. It’s a moral assessment to admittedly declare him as a brilliant superstar, a savor to Rich Rod, the head coach of Michigan. Just a year ago, he was on the hot seat, but the athletic department opted to retain the underachieving instructor, knowingly understanding his pattern of cultivating kids and building a sturdy program by recruiting masterfully.

As it stands for now, Robinson relieves stress and produce life if he alarms a football school with countless displays of clutch finishes.

The Wolverines were effective in scoring 24 points, thanks in large part to Robinson’s mindset and effort on capping a 28-24 win to fight off Notre Dame in South Bend. With an astonishing comeback in the final seconds, he led the Wolverines to survival when he calmly drove the ball down the field and converted on fourth-and-inches, following a play on third-and-five in the red zone. That brings us to the thrilling game winner, when he clinched the win on a two-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds remaining.

“We played as a team,” Robinson said,” The defense had our back all game…we had to have their backs (at the end).”

The momentum shifted, though in this game, when Notre Dame relied on Nate Montana, the Irish third-string quarterback 11 minutes into the game. He is, the son of Joe, and made his debut after Dayne Crist suffered an eye injury on a touchdown across the goal line on the opening drive.

“I’m proud of our young guys,” Rodriguez said. “They hung in there.”

Certainly, they did.

But in that last drive, Robinson was the man and accounted for six passes, five completions, five rushes, 72 yards of offense, and a touchdown. Most of all, he’s a clutch player. And his total of yardage is unbelievable.

That was amazingly executed.    


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