Michigan Football: 'Shoelace' Has Left His Prints on First Three Games

Russ HartleyContributor ISeptember 19, 2010

Denard puts up over 380 total yards in  win over Uconn
Denard puts up over 380 total yards in win over UconnGregory Shamus/Getty Images

The start of the 2010 Michigan football season has been nothing short of spectacular. The Wolverines have started off to impressive victories over Uconn and Notre Dame. It is not only the 3-0 start that has Michigan fans excited about this season, but the way they won those games and who they defeated.

Of course, there is a player that deserves much of the accreditation, Denard Robinson. To say he has been good is an understatement.

Robinson has not only broken records at Michigan, but he has shattered them. With a total 383 combined yards in the victory over Uconn, he stunned the record attending crowd. He has rushed for nearly 200 yards, but that wasn’t even his most impressive statistic.

Robinson was 19-of-22 in passing, which arm accuracy was his biggest issue coming into the season.

I, myself, and many others thought that he had improved, but the Uconn showing was nearly a career game that would never happen again, we were wrong.

Robinson put up 502 total yards against rival Notre Dame, which made everyone a believer in “Shoelace”. He has been so good the first two games that his third game (345 total yards) didn’t even create that much buzz. The QB's performance against Umass was the 10th best single player performance in Michigan history.

Robinson has had three 345 plus yard games not just in the first three games, but his first three starts. I know he will face many tougher defenses and they will start to key in on him, but so far that has not happened; and no team has even challenged him.

Many people throughout the country say that Robinson has been the whole offense and a “one man show”. Of course he has carried the offense, but he has been so successful that giving anyone else the ball wouldn’t make sense.

We saw in the Umass game that when the defense locks in on “Shoelace” it opens holes for the other players, especially running backs. Shaw has over 100 yards rushing including the touchdown run that sealed the victory.

Stonum and Roundtree have also looked very impressive. Robinson has shown a surprisingly strong arm in his first three starts, which is what impresses me the most.

The defense has come up when it matters, especially in big plays. For example, the forced fumble by Floyd when the Huskies were threatening to score inside Michigan’s 10-yard line.

Now although the Wolverines are 3-0 and have been lead by a strong Heisman candidate, they still have shown some concerns.

The defense has been inconsistent and seems to make it a habit of letting 10-yard runs turn into 25-yard gains. They let up a disappointing 37 points to a D 1-AA team, and the secondary has been terrible.

The biggest improvement has been the amount of turnovers they have created, but they still need to consistently make teams go three and out. The front line has been the most impressive, but they still need to improve on getting to the quarterback.

The secondary has blown many coverages, but has created some interceptions that have made a difference in scoring.

The special teams has definitely shown that they are the team’s biggest weakness. Gibbons has been plain bad, and the returners are very inexperienced, or at least they have been playing inexperienced. Special teams should be the easiest team to fix, but we need to see some changes happen.

Before anyone says that Michigan is “back,” flashback to last year’s 4-0 start and look at what happened.

I really feel that this years team is much better from last years. They have a much better quarterback in Robinson, the defense has created more turnovers, they have arguably beaten stronger opponents and the offense looks like Rich Rod’s offense at West Virginia.

If the offensive motors continue and Robinson keeps putting up these types of numbers, then Michigan should be looking at at least a 5-0 if not 6-0 start to the 2010 season.

It is too early to tell how good this team will be, since their harder part of the schedule is their second half. We can only judge them from their first three games, and in those games, they look very promising. 

-Russ Hartley (YGsports)

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