Monday, 14 November 2011

Defending Denard

In the comments section of the post below, there is a fair bit of criticism of Denard Robinson, and I've also had a series of email from someone (you know who you are! :P) saying that Denard should not be the starting QB. Personally I find all this talk pretty silly, especially when you look at the numbers Denard put up last year when he was in a comfortable system.

We have to remember that whilst Denard is a junior, this is his first year as a starting QB in Borges' system, and he's playing against some pretty good defenses on the road. If you remember he struggled to pass during his first year in RR's system, and look what happened his 2nd year. It's not unreasonable to think that Denard will make another jump forward this offseason.

At times we also have to question the play calling, as especially against Illinois it was painfully obvious whether we were going to run the ball or pass. But still, Denard actually put up some ok numbers through the air as he went 6/9 for 92 yards with no INTs, I'm giving him a pass for the hail mary play as that was always liking to end up as a pick.

You also have to give Illinois some credit, they brought a lot of pressure and their front four was very active in the backfield, especially Whitney Mercilus; our OL really struggled to block him at times.

Also, Michigan doesn't exactly have a great core of Wide Receivers. Hemingway is pretty good but prone to some easy drops, Roundtree has been non existent this season, and most of the others are undersized. Darryl Stonum's return next year should really help Denard to stretch the field.

Now let's look at Devin Gardner, who a few of you probably think should be the starting QB. He went 2/5 for 47 yards and a TD. I'll give Devin props for the TD pass as that was really nicely done, the OL gave him time and he stepped up and hit Odoms with a perfect pass. But apart from that his performance was still quite sketchy; I didn't think he looked comfortable out there.

I didn't watch the Iowa game, so I can't talk about Denard's performance there, but I watched every snap of the Illinois game and he was nowhere near as bad as some people are making him out to be. If you go back and watch the game you'll see him actually make some nice throws; if Odoms was taller he would have had a TD pass too.

The entire offense plays better at home, so it'll be interesting to see how Denard does, assuming he's healthy, against the defense of Nebraska, which is pretty good. I would like to see more, and better designed QB runs, and more short throws on 1st downs from Borges, as I think that would really help to build up Denard's confidence.


  1. i think the problem with Denard is his refusal to stop doing insanely stupid things with the ball in his hands and thus costing the team way too many turnovers. He also doesn't seem anywhere near the runner he was earlier in the season. SO if he can't run, and can't seem to pass but turns the ball over, whats the point?

  2. Benji,
    I pretty much agree with your post on Denard. This year does seem like a step backwards, but don’t forget what he did in the Notre Dame game. We would not have won without him. But here we are with just two games to play and Denard is not where he should be. In defense of Denard, he does not have the greatest offensive line; receivers are small and probably not running the routes properly. But he just can’t seem to improvise very easily like he could last year. Could use some help from the receivers. I am sure a lot of that is because of the new system and we don’t know how much freedom Hoke and Borgess are giving him. He does not look comfortable in the pocket at all; there is not much of a pocket most of the time. To me let Denard be Denard and let him do what he does best. He is much better passer when he rolls out and can plant his feet.

    Benji, just curious as how you get to watch the games? ESPN3???

    Go Blue!!

  3. I am not getting sucked back into this debate. We all have our own opinion so can we please leave it at that.

    Anything new in recruiting?
    Whats going on with Wright, Diggs, Garnett, Banner, Payton, Dabroh, Madaris, Powe, Chesson and I am throwing Diamond in?

  4. I know the wide receivers coach at Michigan. His name is Jeff Hecklinski. He has had great receivers everywhere he has been especially at ball state (he had a all league reciver until the reciver got hurt). And san diego state. ( he had 2 kids go pro last year). I have faith that once Jeff gets some talent we won't be complaining about our receivers running wrong routes or dropping balls.

  5. Watching denard this year it just seems like his passes are lacking the necessary zip. Every ball he throws more than 15 yards seems to flutter, it makes me wonder if he would do well to gain 15-20 pounds in the offseason with a regiment focused on strengthening his legs and shoulder that might give his fastball something extra.

  6. I have a question for everyone. How many times this year have you watched Denard Robinson throw the ball away? I can only think of one or two times the whole year. He would rather just throw the ball in double coverage or just throw it up for grabs. That's what bothers me the most. If there are two guys guarding one WR is it that hard to just throw the ball away cuz he wont do it. He will just throw it up and see what happens. It drives me crazy. I love Denard and am happy to have him as the QB of Michigan I just wish he wouldn't make such bad decisions with the ball.

  7. Jer, I'm going to do a post on Diggs this week that will basically evaluate his entire recruitment and should put things in perspective.

    People outside of the U.S, like me, don't get ESPN3, we pay for something called ESPN Player which lets me watch any college sporting event on ESPN, even stuff like volleyball lol.

  8. If you watch his throwing motion on the deep passes he really cocks his body to the left. Just a observation.

  9. Benji,
    Thanks for all the hard work you put in.

  10. Dream final four:
    1. Diggs
    2. Y Wright
    3. N Spence(with Brown moving to TE why not a 5*DE)
    4. Dunn

    I know we are talking about taking 2WR but if we get second best in nation that should see field early lets wait for 2013 and Shane to recruit.

  11. I think UM is in better shape then we think with the WRs. Think about it they have Stonum, Roundtree, Dileo, Gallon and with guys coming in like Clark, Gant and Funchess they can all play WR.And I know some of these guys are on the small side but that does not mean they can't catch the ball. As long as UM lands one WR I think UM should be ok. In theroy.

  12. I'm just hoping and praying that somehow Gunner Kiel realizes that Michigan is RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Indiana and decides to come on board.

    Gardner is definitely not ready, and I don't think he will be in two years, either. The one drive he ran in the Iowa game was horrible. He was trying to be Denard and run the ball and got no where. He only got a first down due to a foul. His TD pass against Illinois was good, but that was it. I still feel like if Denard had that drive, it could have easily been a scoring drive, and we would be 9-1 right now.

    As for Denard, I love him and hate him so much. When he's good, he's good. But he's so often completely frustrating. His constant picks are extremely detrimental. How many INT has he thrown in the end zone this year? His inability to connect on a short TD pass given FOUR tries is just another example. I didn't get to watch most of the MSU game, so I'm not sure where the blame lies for that, but I was at Kinnick for the Iowa game, and the blame there lies mostly with Denard.

  13. Denard wins!!!!

    yes if another Tom Brady came along I could be done with Denard as a starter but he remains our best chance to win ball games.

    1) this season he stands to finish with about 2000 yards passing and 1000 on the ground having shared alot of the ground work with Fitz. That's pretty acceptable!!!

    2) our opponents have more tape on Denard and do a much better job of shutting him down......thankfully we may end up with two 1,000 yard rushers

    3) Our new offence......I don't believe that either Denard nor Devin are the right answer but they'll keep us in the game until we get there. pre-season pick for this week was 27-20 for Nebraska. I think I could be wrong.

  14. The B1G has taken Joe Paterno's name off of the B1G Championship trophy. I think the Bo Schembechler Trophy sounds good. Just you can't call it The Woody Hayes trophy after the way he was fired.

  15. I think naming it anything other than the Big Ten Championship trophy is silly. People are just going to debate it and be unhappy. Kind of like when the DR discussion comes up again. I wonder how many other teams that are 8-2 complain about their starting qb. Hey did I mention we're 8-2 in a transition year? Oh yeah, we're definitely 8-2 in a recruiting year.

  16. Give Denard another year in this new system. It is a transition not easily made and yet you can see progress in his play from week to week as the offense gets more complex. Not understanding this is a failure to understand how difficult it is to change systems, personnel, and coaches. Next year Denard will thrive - and yet we've won more games this year than last year! Be patient, people, and recognize that neither of our other 2 QBs are close to ready. Relax. it has been a good year and next year will be even better.

  17. FWIW......if my msg wasn't clear. I like Denard!!!

    Just looking at my profile picture with the B1G Trophy.....It might be a keepsake.......says "Stagg-Paterno on it.

    BTW 8-2 and I don't think we're done.

  18. Espn has changed our officials for the next few games. It is still Garnett for the Nebraska game. However Thompson is no longer listed for the OSU game and now Chesson, Darboh, and Wright are listed. I have also heard some rumors about a possible visit from Diggs. Does anyone know when this could be? Is there a maximum number of official visits for one game? Say chesson, and Darboh both commit at the OSU game. Does that mean our chances with Diggs is over eventhough his visit may not be till December?

  19. @goBlueNorth the only problem people have with Denard is the turnovers. Yes he is winning games and we all LOVE Denard,but let me ask you this,if this weekend Denard throws 2 picks and Neb scores of those and he still isn't running very well why is it so wrong for people to question that? Again I dont think anybody is saying bench the guy and never play him but if you are the quarterback at UM and you have 20 turnovers in 10 games,you WILL be questioned.

    It is sounding more and more like Dunn is almost a done deal to go blue!

  20. My only problem with Denard is why is he trying to pass more than run? There have been countless times this year that he could have scrambled for 20+ yards but stayed in the pocket or scrambled in the pocket to stay and pass. I'm not gonna say anything bad about him because I honestly think that if we didn't have him, we wouldn't be in the position we are in now. He seems to over throw a lot this year which i think is his main problem. But i agree with Benji in the thinking that look what happened to him from Freshman year to Sophomore year, a major improvement. I say give Borges another year with him and he will be 10 times better than he is now. Borges has done it before and he will do it again.

    And also at this point, its pretty much a waiting game on Shane Morris

  21. Bad news looks like backup safety Marvin Robinson has bees arrested for home invasion.

    And second take this for what its worth but Ace William is reporting that DG will get the start this week because DR needs rest and healing time for the OSU game.

  22. people always say that denard is learning a new system. Sure, he is and you can blame a FEW of his mistakes on that but things like knowing when to throw the ball away or take a sack have nothing to do with a new system.Also, he telegraphs his throws and throws them into double or triple coverage. HE IS NOT A QUARTER BACK! He should just be used as like a wildcat slot receiver because devin can actually throw a good pass unlike denard!

  23. Imo why havent coaches fixed Denard's choice to throw it up instead of throwing it out of bounds? I think thats on them too! And i agree with why doesnt denard scramble more... Weird but i dont think denard has ever scrambled much... When a pass play is called denard will find somewhere to throw it which i disagree with. I believe if denard scrambled more then passing lanes would open up more like they did against ND in the last drive with Jeremy gallion. He moved forward and the entire defense left their coverage to stop denard leaving recievers wide open. Im no quarterback or a football god but i think Our coaches need to continue to tell denard to make two reads... Check option 1, option 2 and if they arent open go run! Im 100% fine with denard getting 4 yards on a scramble. If he doesnt break a 20 yard run atleast he didnt throw a int. 4 yards everytime is a first down! Either way unless we beat ourselves i think we end 10-2 and sneak into a real nice bowl game. Just hope its not against SEC

  24. Some posted earlier in regards to DR and his performance against notre dame. The game was awesome. That being said, most of his long ball completions were nothing more than jump balls. It was a 50/50 chance for our receivers to make the catch. They just as easily could have been picked. He is a poor thrower, period. He also seems to be running scared. I hate to admit though, I feel better with DR being our QB than I do DG. I like Grrdner, but he looks utterly lost on most plays. We'll just have to suffer for the next few years until Shane Morris arrives.

  25. The only problem with Denard I have is that he is not a QB, and the same people who want to defend his stats against inferior competition do not judge him on the key things they need to be judging him for as a QB:

    1. He can't read defenses other than zone read runs.
    2. He is wildly inaccurate, not just off here or there. He's short and his WRs are short, so it makes sense that he can't throw well.
    3. He doesn't have great mechanics, and he has thrown off his back foot for three years.
    4. People are blinded by his running stats, that when you take away subpar competition are pedestrian. He has a good game against Notre Dame this year and somehow people are supposed to forget that he causes as many TOs as he gets TDs.
    5. His TDs this year running have been selfish stat paddings where he runs the ball in short yard option plays after Fitz or others drive the team down the field.
    6. Our red zone is offense because he cannot hit a pass consistently. Defenses know he is not calm when blitzed and gives the ball away at will with bonehead plays.

    7. How does anyone know that Gardner cannot win a game? Small samples and he's looked much better than people give him credit for, IMO.

    8. We should be 10-0. Our defense has won us more games this year than DR. DR had one lucky game against ND where WRs made many transitions to get poorly thrown passes. That was a team effort.

    I find it funny how mad people can get about DRob "haters," but cannot seem to give any of the other players credit for wining these games. DR didn't run for 192 yards against a tough D last week. Fitz did. We committed to a RB and that's what won us this last game, an two weeks ago. Tough D and a running game.

    I'd leave it alone myself if I didn't see such contradictory and overly sycophantic love for all things Denard Robinson. More and more people realize he's not a good QB. He's not Pat White 2.0, nor is he better than White. He's a really fast kid whose speed worked in the zone read because he was given the ball every down to either keep or hand off. His speed is all he has as a player. His speed and his smile.

    If Gardner got as many snaps or a week' practice with the first team -- that's when you judge him. DR is being judged on three years, period. Scheme changes don't deal with bad throws,

    This is Michigan. You want to play for the best school out there, and have fans adore you, then complete more than 55% of your passes and don't turn the ball over.

    Fans need to stop drooling over one player and give the rest of the team credit for these wins.

  26. Denard has proven that he can be one of the most dangerous players in the country. Last year you expected him to take it to the house on almost every play, this year both quarterbacks seem completely lost and have 2 left feet. Last year there was an incredibly simple offense that let the qb use his instincts on the run in a rhythm to make plays, this year they have the biggest, most diverse and complicated playbook of any college football team in America and neither qb can do jack squat. I hope Borges does something rather drastic for these last 2 games (like simplifying the friggin offense) or we're gonna be celebrating an 8 win season next week, and the week after that, and one more time in December.

  27. Jer- I am 100% with you on not getting into this debate again. But for the record, I doubt the coaches would sit DR against Nebraska just to save him for Ohio... Hoke wants to win every game and sitting DR would be foolish just to save him. If he cannot play due to injury, that's one thing.

  28. On fairness to fitz running well... Credit to him but im sure when defense sees denard or fitz they first are told to stop Denard... Fitz is #2 option.... Atleast thats what it sounds like when every coach facing michigan is asked about stopping michigans offense... Either way i dont think anyone will be happy untill morris is here because id bet a lot of money Devins not any better... IMO