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 performance. 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.
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.”