College Football: Michigan QB Denard Robinson Over-Hyped and Untied

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst ISeptember 14, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines looks for a receiver against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 28-24.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Quick, somebody call TMZ, because the college football world was just caught flirting with its new crush.

He’s got the look, the skills, and the speed, all while not bothering to tie his shoelaces.

He’s Denard Robinson, sophomore quarterback of the Michigan Wolverines—a young man that’s not only torching the record books in college football’s opening weeks, but also single-handedly has cooled off Rich Rodriguez’s coaching hot seat.

You see, Robinson has been the talk of college football—and it’s showing across multiple fronts, from Michigan emerging back into the polls, to Robinson himself being listed as the current Heisman frontrunner.

Only, with all the flash and the flare—I still don’t see the reason for all the hype.

Sure, this is Michigan and the kid definitely has talent—but there can only be one conclusion for the hype—and that’s that college football is desperate for a fresh face to hang our hats on...the face of a flashy quarterback in the college game.

Gone is “The Chosen One”, Tim Tebow.  Also gone are Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford.

Who was left when the dust settled?

While talent-wise some may be quick to point out high-projected draft picks like Andrew Luck and Jake Locker, but let’s face the facts—it’s often that west coast schools like Stanford and Washington will get passed by when focusing on the national picture.

After all, many would argue that Toby Gerhart—Stanford grad—had the best numbers for the Heisman in 2009.

Therefore, at this point in the season, Robinson and Michigan make sense as the new face—but Heisman material...for real, people?

Has anyone actually looked at the type of football players that are winning the Heisman trophy over the last number of years?

Apparently not.

It’s not just gaudy numbers that wins a player the Heisman trophy—but also overall team performance, ranking and so on.

Sure, the Wolverines are 2-0 and currently ranked—but let’s not get too excited about Michigan just yet.  Michigan was receiving similar acclaim last season with the early success by Tate Forcier and the Wolverines, specifically during its exciting win against Notre Dame. 

Rich Rod is 10-16 as a head coach at Michigan, but that includes 3-13 in the Big Ten conference.  Do the math: That’s 7-3 against non-conference foes during the earlier part of the season.

Also, while Robinson’s numbers are indeed impressive (885 yards of total offense over the first two games—including 383 against Connecticut and 502 against Notre Dame), let’s take a look at Michigan’s opening two opponents—and looks are deceiving, considering it’s a 2009 bowl bound Connecticut team and Notre Dame.

Neither the Huskies nor the Irish were posting elite defensive statistics last season.  Many may be quick to point that each team was respectable in total defense (each ranked in the top 75 in college football in 2009), but it’s also important to note some specific defensive performances against more elite talent.

First, look at UConn—who allowed 220+ rushing yards or more against Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Cincinnati—all teams that had respectable seasons in 2009.

Next, there’s Notre Dame, who over its final four games allowed 348 rushing yards to Navy, 193 to Pittsburgh, 231 to Connecticut, and 280 to Stanford—all teams who either had an elite rushing player, or relied heavily on a ground attack.

Also, while the critics marvel at Robinson’s early season accomplishments—all the while acting like this has never happened before—I’m left scratching my head.

After a few stale, crusty years at Michigan, is everyone so quickly to forget Rich Rod’s offensive system?

Rodriguez runs a no huddle spread offense that’s heavily run-oriented—and in order to maximize its effectiveness, it requires a dual-threat quarterback, specifically one that can run better than he can throw.

Considering that Denard Robinson completed only 45.2 percent of his passes last season, I think it’s safe to say that his lightning speed is his best asset.

Also, look at Rich Rod’s offense at West Virginia, which ran the ball 69 percent of the time (or more) from the years 2002-2007.

The most notable of players during Rodriguez’s tenure at West Virginia was dual-threat QB Pat White, who, like Denard Robinson, posted gaudy numbers in this system.

In fact, Pat White shattered numbers—and was a one-man show in Rich Rod’s system. Just look at West Virginia’s career statistics and you’ll see White planted in second place all-time in career passing, with 6,049 yards (Marc Bulger was first) and second all-time in career rushing yards, with 4,480 (second only to Avon Cobourne).


How many Heisman trophies has Pat White won?

And even then, White had Steve Slaton to take a lot of the heat off of him.

On this year’s Michigan team—Robinson is the leading returning rusher, so that’s further proof that there isn’t much experience in the rushing attack, leaving Denard to take on a role of a one-man show at this point in the season.

So what happens when the Wolverines have to face some of the better defenses on its schedule—mainly Iowa on October 16, at Penn State on October 30, home versus Wisconsin on November 20, and at Ohio State on November 27?

Each and every one of these elite defenses will focus on limiting Robinson as much as they can.

So, yes...Rich Rodriguez offenses—when they work—create flash and chatter—but flash can also be something that looks like a Lamborghini on the outside, but also drives like a Kia on the inside.

Michigan’s play the last two seasons has proven that fact.

But for now, the college football nation has declared that Michigan is back—with the pollsters jumping on the bandwagon and ranking them after just two weeks.  That hype will push further towards its boiling point with the likes of Massachusetts, Bowling Green, and Indiana on the Wolverines’ schedule over the next three weeks.

Please, I can find better tasting cupcakes at a bakery.

As for Denard Robinson, there’s no doubt that the kid’s got talent—but not let’s not fall head over heels when we’ve only seen what cards he’s showing after two dates.

There’s no doubt that the Wolverines are getting better—but let’s take a wait-and-see approach, and instead see how Michigan handles the Big Ten conference schedule.

Until then, stop being fooled by the hype with Michigan or the Denard Robinson Heisman chatter.

Quick, your shoelaces are untied...damn, you fell for that, too.


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