- Erin Kirkland/Daily
By Luke Pasch, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 13, 2012
On Michigan’s second drive against Illinois on Saturday, senior quarterback Denard Robinson kept the ball on 1st-and-goal and dragged defenders down to the one-yard line.
Robinson popped back up but ran over to the sideline instead of the huddle, and the Big House faithful fell silent. Robinson held onto his right wrist and signaled to the trainers that he needed to be checked out.
With no time left to waste on the play clock and Robinson still being looked at, Michigan coach Brady Hoke sent redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy onto the field to finish out the drive.
The crowd remained hushed as Bellomy handed the ball off to redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint for no gain. And it was silent again when he was stuffed on 3rd-and-1 as well.
Apparently the offense couldn’t move a single yard without Robinson under center, and the Wolverines settled for a field goal.
“One thing the coaches always emphasize is that the expectation is for the position,” said fifth year senior guard Patrick Omameh. “You never want to see one of your teammates go down, but if somebody does, you have confidence that someone’s going to step in and take that role.”
Fans’ expectations for the quarterback position could be a bit exaggerated because they’ve been spoiled by the exhilarating play of Robinson, but Bellomy didn’t do a great job of living up to any expectations in his brief role on Saturday.
On the following drive, he tossed a pair of incomplete passes — granted, the second was dropped by fifth-year wide receiver Roy Roundtree — before Michigan punted on a three-and-out.
Robinson returned to action on the next drive and played impressively until the fourth quarter, when the Wolverines sent their second-team offense onto the field with a comfortable 38-point lead.
Bellomy appeared a bit more confident than in the first quarter, completing his first career pass to Jerald Robinson for an eight-yard gain. But his inexperience was still evident, as he fumbled a snap on one play and Illinois fell on the ball.
“We’re very excited about Russ Bellomy, and have been,” Hoke said. “He came in there with a lot of confidence. He came in there, had the one exchange problem later in the game, and I think the ball slipped or we didn’t get it up enough. But he’s a guy that we think is a good quarterback. That’s why we recruited him.
“It was good to get him some work and obviously meaningful work, but any work’s good.”
President Morgan: Prior to kickoff, the Athletic Department dubbed former U.S. President Gerald Ford the fourth Michigan football legend, meaning that one player will wear Ford’s No. 48 in his honor.
The jersey was awarded to sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan, who has impressed coaches all season with his nose for the ball and ability to wrap up when tackling. Morgan will wear No. 48 for the remainder of his college career.
“I would just like to say it’s quite an honor and a privilege not only to represent a former Michigan player — he obviously left his legacy on the program, he was a standout person and player — but on top of that, the President of the United States,” Morgan said. “It’s a great honor, and I’m going to wear it proud.”
Ford had an impressive career with the Wolverines, lettering three times from 1932 to 1934, and he helped lead the team to national championships in 1932 and 1933. Ford split time at center and linebacker, standing out on both sides of the ball.
“It was very easy to choose Desmond because of his integrity and his character, because of how he comes every day in our building, I think in the classroom, in the community,” Hoke said. “He’s a great kid. Really.”
Tailbacks awaken: Coming into Saturday’s contest, Michigan’s non-Robinson rushing attack had been stalling. Against Purdue last week, Toussaint was almost entirely bottled up, averaging just one yard per carry.
In addition to Robinson’s 134 yards on the ground on Saturday, Toussaint, sophomore Thomas Rawls and redshirt freshman Justice Hayes combined for another 222.
Rawls’ performance was perhaps the most impressive, picking up 90 yards on a mere nine carries, with a 63-yard touchdown run down the left sideline.
“We just wanted to give (Rawls and Hayes) some more carries,” Hoke said. “I think competition is always healthy for everybody.”
Toussaint, whom Hoke reaffirmed after the game as the starting running back, finished with 66 yards on 18 carries.