Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines entered the 2010 College Football season under a lot of scrutiny and with many critics selling them short. Many questioned whether Rich Rodriguez could have success at such a high publicity school like Michigan. Rodriguez had great success at West Virginia, but Michigan is a completely different atmosphere when it comes to College Football.
After finishing 3-8 in 2008, the Wolverines fell under a heavy cloud of scrutiny. That criticism grew when Michigan had another lackluster year in 2009. After starting 4-0, Michigan fell flat only winning one more game that year finishing 5-7. For a perennial power like Michigan, eight wins in one year is consider a disappointment. Eight wins over a two-year span is unacceptable. Needless to say, Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines were under a great deal of pressure entering this 2010 season.
Rich Rodriguez came to Michigan with a completely different style of football than what fans in Ann Arbor were accustomed to seeing. Rodriguez and his supporters would tell you that it takes a while to change systems and recruit the right athletes for that system.
Well it appears Rodriguez has found the right athlete, at least at the Quarterback position. Sophomore QB Denard Robinson has burst on the scene taking advantage of Rodriguez's spread option offense to put up video game type numbers through five games this season. Saturday's game against the University of Indiana was no exception, as Robinson lit up the Hoosiers for almost 500 yards of total offense, all by himself.
Rich Rodriguez's spread option system relies on a speedy, athletic QB who can threaten defenses with both his running and passing ability. Pat White thrived in this system at West Virginia, accounting for more than 10,000 yards in his four years as a Mountaineer. Denard Robinson seems well on his way to besting White's numbers under this spread option offense. Robinson has already accounted for more than two thirds of Michigan's total offensive yardage this season, which is even more impressive when you consider that Robinson left the game against Bowling Green in the first quarter with a knee injury. Even after missing three quarters of a game, Robinson has totaled 1,008 passing yards and 905 rushing yards through 5 games this season. Robinson also has 15 Touchdowns to his name (7 passing, 8 rushing).
Pat White's best year under Rich Rodriguez he was able to total 1,724 passing yards and 1,335 rushing yards. Denard Robinson is less than halfway through the season and well on his way to crushing these totals set by White. Let's put Robinson's numbers into perspective with some of his other Heisman Trophy competition. The Michigan QB currently leads all Heisman candidates in rushing yards, in fact he leads the nation in rushing yards. Coming into Week 5, Robinson leads defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram in terms of yards per game by 18 yards a game (Robinson 172 YPG rushing, Ingram 154 YPG rushing). Through five games Robinson currently trails Ohio State QB Terelle Pryor by only 7 passing yards (1,015 for Pryor, 1,008 for Robinson) yet he has out-rushed Pryor by 532 yards (905 for Robison, 373 for Pryor).
Many critics question whether or not Robinson can keep up this relentless pace throughout an entire season. Some argue that teams will begin to scheme against Robinson, making it significantly more difficult for him to put up the kind of numbers he has thus far. Only time will tell, but so far only one team (Connecticut) can claim they were caught off guard by Robinson, every team after that has been scheming to stop Robinson and none have been able to do so. The only thing standing between Denard Robinson and the 2010 Heisman trophy is the threat of injury. Running Quarterbacks are much more susceptible to injury due to the fact that they put themselves in harms way more often than pocket passers. However, Robinson has proven himself tough and resilient thus far. I fully expect Denard Robinson to be crowned the 2010 Heisman trophy winner.