Grading The Performance: Purdue

Quarterback

Denard Robinson has traditionally played well in bounce back games. Robinson has gone through his share of poor performances but has usually returned the next time out with a great effort. Saturday was no exception as Denard turned in another great performancDenard - Toledo Bladee. The offense continues to lean on Denard as the sole bread winner. 200 yd. days on the ground from Denard have become surprisingly routine though no less spectacular. 235 yds. on 24 carries would be considered extraordinary for a RB but has become expected for Denard. Denard was efficient with his runs, he picked his spots and exploded when creases became available. Denard’s vision and natural running ability are some of his most underrated qualities. Everyone notices the speed and acceleration but the vision is really what really allows Denard to make much of the plays he does in the running game. After 3 years in the system Denard still has issues reading when to give and when to keep the ball on the zone read.

After an abysmal passing performance against Notre Dame, Robinson was protective of the football and Michigan limited the number of passing attempts in the game. Denard threw a picture perfect TD pass to Devin Gardner late in the 2nd quarter and actually threw the ball away when he found himself in trouble. Robinson still showed some accuracy issues, he overthrew a wide open Fitz Toussaint on what should have been a routine play.

Grade: B+

Running Back

For weeks Michigan fans have wondered whether the lack of production from the running game outside of Denard Robinson was a product of the backs or the offensive line/Denard. While there wasn’t always perfect blocking or reads from the QB, clearly there are issues with the backs. Fitzgerald Toussaint was a shell of his former self, hesitant, slow, and not assertive. I continue to wonder whether Fitz is nursing an injury that hasn’t be disclosed to the media because he looks nothing like the back that gained close to 1,000 yards in just the last 5 games of last season. Vincent Smith performed barely better than Fitz on the few opportunities he was given. The most impressive back of the game was Thomas Rawls who gained 33yds and scored a TD in garbage time. It has become repetitive but Michigan must continue trying to get more production out of the “non-Denard running game.”

Grade: D+

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Grading The Performance: Ohio

Quarterback

Players at Michigan are ultimately judged by how they perform against Ohio. While all position groups have to deal with an added level of expectation against the Buckeyes, no position group endures more pressure than the QBs. QBs are judged above all else by their record and performance against Ohio. For much of the last decade Michigan fans have seen their QB’s outperformed by their Buckeye counterparts. Names like Krenzel, Smith, and Pryor have made more plays in the clutch and fewer critical mistakes than Wolverine QBs. Over the last decade Ohio QBs have outperformed Michigan’s QBs, until Saturday.

Denard Robinson rose to the occasion on Saturday and simply willed the Wolverines to victory. Every time the Buckeyes made a play to take the lead or tie the game, Denard came right back to make a play of his own. Denard performed at the highest of levels on the biggest of stages; became a legend in the process. During one stretch of the game, Robinson completed 11 straight passes and was the most accurate that he’s been this season. The most impressive part of Robinson’s performance, from a passing standpoint, was that he was the most accurate while making the most difficult throws. Denard threw a perfect 15 yd corner route to Drew Dileo that would have gone for a TD had Dileo stayed on his feet. Denard also hit Junior Hemingway on a perfect strike between a safety and a corner. Denard made the difficult throws look easy, something that seems truly amazing when you think back of the season. In addition, Denard showed a tremendous amount of patience before hitting Odoms for a TD. There were no back foot, chuck the ball up for grabs plays, the kind that have gotten Denard into trouble all season. Denard was dialed in from the first snap and amazing enough continued to elevate his level of play throughout the game.

On the ground, Denard ran harder and with more decisiveness than he has since arriving at Michigan. There was only one play where Denard hesitated instead of making up his mind and taking off. Denard burned Nebraska last week with his scrambling ability and he did the same to the Buckeyes this week. Anytime Ohio vacated its LBs from the middle of the field, Denard took off which was great to see. Denard also did a great job on the zone read, an area that he has struggled with his whole career. Denard was determined not to let Michigan lose and he ran like it.

The only imperfections on the day for Denard Robinson were the two balls he put on the ground. On the first play Robinson was ruled down. On the second, Ohio got the ball in Michigan territory and scored a few plays later.

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