Monday, August 30, 2010
2010 Countdown: #5 Denard Robinson
Name: Denard Robinson
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, FL
Jersey number: #16
Last year: I ranked Robinson #31. He finished the season with 188 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions on 14/31 passes. He also had 69 carries for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns.
I wasn't sold on Denard Robinson as a quarterback going into 2009. He was bound to be an integral part of Michigan's offense, but he was raw as a signal caller. Coming from a high school that ran a Wing-T offense, I doubted he'd be ready to run a shotgun spread. His first play against Western Michigan was thrilling, but I guess after that, things could only go down. Robinson proceeded to be an evasive and exciting runner while also being a frustratingly poor passer. He excelled against an FCS patsy in Delaware State (3/4, 85 yards, 2 TDs), but was only 11/27 for 103 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions against teams with a pulse.
Part of the problem with Robinson's performance in 2009 was the fact that Rich Rodriguez inserted him somewhat randomly throughout the season. Rather than playing him situationally or giving him a quarter here or there, Rodriguez whimsically inserted him whenever the breeze blew juuuuuuuuuust right. I don't think anyone on the team was able to get in a rhythm, and that showed at times. It's a testament to Robinson's running ability that he was able to average over 5 yards per carry when it was clear that virtually every snap Robinson took would be a run.
In my opinion, the battle for the quarterback job in 2010 will come down to this: Which quarterback can run the zone read option most effectively? The zone read option has traditionally been the staple of Rodriguez's offense, and he hasn't had a quarterback run it consistently since Pat White did in 2007. Robinson was so ineffective at running the play that it was seemingly removed from the playbook when he was in the game. Tate Forcier seemed to make the wrong read two-thirds of the time. White averaged up to 8.0 yards per carry, and if Robinson can read the backside defensive end properly, there's no reason that he can't get at least six yards a pop.
I still think that Robinson will be extremely raw in 2010. There are reports that he has been tearing up Michigan's defense in spring and fall practices, but keep in mind that it's Michigan's defense. We know that Robinson can run the ball, but can he make the right reads? Can he pick apart a defense that runs something other than a base Cover 3? I have my doubts. When nearly 15% of one's passes against FBS opponents are caught by people wearing the wrong colored jerseys, faith disappears quickly. (Comparatively, a 15% interception rate for Tate Forcier would have resulted in approximately 42 interceptions!) Robinson will still be very important in 2010, but Michigan's offense can succeed without him. Forcier's range of talents makes #5 the most important quarterback on the team, no matter which quarterback starts on September 4th.
Prediction for 2010: Part-time starting quarterback; 900 yards passing, 8 touchdowns; 800 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns
I'm one of the few who doesn't buy the hype, I guess. The voting went like this:
36% for Tate Forcier
28% for Troy Woolfolk
15% for Mike Martin
15% for David Molk
3% for Denard Robinson