By: Eric Thomas
Denard Robinson can’t tackle, so he would fit in well with the Michigan defense. It’s not his responsibility to tackle anyone so he’s off the hook there. Regardless of his lack of tackling abilities / responsibilities, the embarrassing loss to Alabama has to hang on Denard’s shoulders.
Alabama came in with a plan and executed it to perfection. The plan was to exploit Michigan’s biggest weakness and that weakness is Denard Robinson. It’s also fair to say the defense had no answer Bama at all, but they were also on the field most of the game.
The Wolverines cannot pass the ball. Denard had games where he has completed a majority of passes. That was back when they had Junior Hemingway. Whatever the method used for selecting for Cirque de Soleil performers should be applied to the position of WR at Michigan. People argue “Robinson hit Devon Gardner in the hands!” Please. Only after Gardner skied in the air and stretched out. Denard isn’t a quarterback. Every team knew that when he was recruited, and only Rich Rod was egotistical enough to think he could win with a QB who couldn’t throw.
I do not doubt Denard’s toughness. If ever see him carted off the field, I fully expect him to be back in for the next offensive series. The dude can take far more hits than his frame would indicate. I do also not doubt his desire, or his work ethic. Also not doubting his leadership. I doubt his ability to throw the football with any accuracy whatsoever. In three years playing at the division one level, he still hasn’t mastered the ability to set his feet before he throws. He has never mastered the ability to stutter, faking the run, plant and throw. The ability to juke the run and freeze the linebackers is crucial for a dual threat QB.
Some fans have enabled this, knowing the truth. They have pasted on nauseated smiles, believing in the Shoelace myth. They raised their shoulders to wince when MSU fans say ‘September Heisman’ because it’s true. They ignored all the nagging doubts. There’s no one who sees those Bell Curve passes and brims with confidence. Let’s keep in mind that the throw where Roy Roundtree was knocked out of bounds hung in the air a ridiculous amount of time.
Here is the bad news and it’s what is dried in the maize and blue wool: Denard is the best quarterback on the team, and he isn’t a quarterback. If you couldn’t take any more of the punishment and tuned out of the game, you missed Russell Bellomy’s first pass as a Wolverine. It wasn’t pretty. Devon Gardner is not an upgrade over Denard. This is the scope of the destruction wrought by the Rich Rodriguez administration. Delusional fans sang ding dong last year, partying like Parisians liberated by invading Allied forces. They thought the darkness had lifted, and they could continue touting ‘winning-est football program ever’ without batting an eye. They ignored the lessons of dozens of schools. They forgot to notice that when your college football team does a sea change the road to transition is bumpy and fraught with peril. You will have transition years where your team is a poisonous amalgam. You have a crop of receivers who don’t want to risk their lives stretching for Shoelace, and a quarterback back that doesn’t quite fit any system. You have the remnants of an assembled team assembled poorly by the person who was dismissed.
For me, the question is not about Hoke or Shoelace. We need to know if Michigan fans can handle this. There is already some grumbling where people are using the code words ‘not prepared’ and discussion the scheme of Al Borges. They are wondering if Denard was given the right road map. When there is criticism of coaches, fans are searching for blame. If they start calling for Hoke this season, this could get ugly. Shane Morris is the supposed savior while he is still six months away from his prom. You really think the results are going to be that different with a true freshman quarterback and a decimated receiving corps? UM is going to be tough to watch for the next two or three years at a minimum. If the Wolverine fans can’t handle that, the program is going to be lost. If they run Hoke out of town in two years, they will officially be Notre Dame and their supposed greatness will fade into history along with so many schools who spoiled by success.
Strap in Michigan fans, this is going to be a tough year. Next year is going to be tough too. If you can pop the Dramamine and get a blindfold, it will all be worth it in the end. My only question is how will the Denard era be remembered? Many fans have touted Shoelace as the one of the great Michigan quarterbacks over the years; will they stick with that assessment if he never beats Michigan State?