For the first few weeks of 2010, Denard Robinson was all the rage, and no one even mentioned a guy named Cam Newton. Robinson was a shoe-in for the Heisman.
Then, the Wolverines began losing games, Robinson was sidelined with injuries, and Cam Newton stepped in and stole the show.
From a statistical standpoint, Robinson still had one heck of a 2010. His 2,570 passing yards don't pop off the page, nor do his 18 touchdown passes. His 11 interceptions certainly hurt his Heisman case, but he still managed a 149.6 QB rating.
The really shocking numbers are his rushing totals. As a quarterback—a Michigan quarterback, at that—Robinson ran for 1,702 yards, fifth in the nation in 2010, and just 29 yards behind the nation's top rusher. Additionally, he was the only non-running back in the top 10 in terms of rushing yards (Cam Newton was 15th, the next non-running back on the list).
If you put all of his stats together, Robinson accounted for 4,272 yards of offense, and was part of 32 offensive touchdowns. Not bad for a sophomore on a team that has traditionally been known for it's statuesque, pocket-passing quarterbacks.
Denard Robinson will make many statements in 2011. After all, when a single player is capable of putting up over 500 yards of offense in a single game, it's a very large statement. But Robinson will need to make a different type of statement in 2011. His best opportunity to do so will be on October 15, when the Wolverines travel north to East Lansing to face the Spartans of Michigan State.
MSU has gotten the better of U-M for the past few years—something that hasn't been done in a half-century. Michigan State starts the year ranked in the top 15 in the nation, and is a contender for the Big Ten.
Robinson will need to display his Heisman ability by not only staying healthy long enough to play a full sixty minutes against Sparty, but he'll need to show the leadership necessary to guide the Wolverines to a victory against an MSU squad that might have a little more talent these days than the guys from Ann Arbor.