Last Saturday against Air Force, the Michigan football team’s senior quarterback Denard Robinson looked a little more like himself than he did in the season opener against Alabama.

With over 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing, it was a classic Robinson performance.

Robinson’s performance was not without mistakes, though. He threw an interception late in the second quarter that led to an Air Force touchdown with a minute left in the half. The pass was tipped up in the air by running back Vincent Smith, but the throw was a bit high and off the mark.

The silver lining: Offensive coordinator Al Borges says that Robinson knows his mistakes before his coaches tell him.

“The one thing about Denard that is amazing is if something goes wrong in front of him, he can identify it quickly,” Borges said. “He can tell you. He’ll get on the phone and tell you right away, he goes, ‘Blah blah blah, missed his block right in front of me, I just couldn’t see the throw. The safety jumped in front, that’s why I backed out and did this.’

“It’s amazing how accurate it is. You look back at it on the tape, and it’s almost verbatim what he said.”

Borges said he has coached a number of players like that in the past. They’re the older, more experienced veterans that also have the right instincts for the game of football. But Borges has a special title for those guys.

“You want guys to have a feel for the game, you know, that goes beyond just their skill level,” Borges said. “The kids call them, uh, ‘ballers,’ you know? The guy’s a baller.

“You can say he may not do this, but the guy balls. And I don’t know what that means — to me that’s an instinctive guy.”

BIG TARGETS: One of Michigan’s biggest off-season concerns was the depth of the receiving and tight end corps with the departures of tight end Kevin Koger and wide receivers Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms.

Robinson isn’t considered to be the most accurate quarterback, and his top receiver in 2012 is supposed to be fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree, who measures in at 6-foot and doesn’t quite have breakaway speed.

But Borges has learned quickly this season that Robinson has more options than most people think.

“Our wide receiver position, believe it or not, is a little deeper than we had anticipated, particularly with (junior wide receiver) Devin Gardner doing what he’s done,” Borges said. “And (freshman Devin Funchess) is a highly skilled kid, yet he is a not a complete tight end yet. … He can go get the ball, runs very well for a tight end, and when he gets a little bigger and stronger, I think he can be a complete player.”

Gardner and Funchess were Robinson’s top targets against Air Force last weekend, combining for 169 yards and both touchdown receptions. Moreover, the two are 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, respectively, and have made a habit of catching balls over defensive backs who where smaller than them.

In a way, they did a solid job on Saturday of replacing Hemingway’s tremendous jump-ball ability from a season ago.

“Devin Garder, you’ll see, that catch he made in the end zone, a smaller guy may not have caught that ball, so (height) helps,” Borges said. “It helps and it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is — they love those nice, big targets where they don’t have to throw it perfect every time. They still have a chance to make a play.”

SHOW ME THE RHYTHM: Sophomore running back Fitz Toussaint’s return to the lineup following his one-game suspension was underwhelming, to say the least. He only picked up seven yards on eight carries.

Much of the problem could be the offensive line, but Borges was quick to point out something else on Tuesday.

“A couple times we missed a couple reads where he should have gotten the ball and didn’t,” Borges said. “One of them the quarterback took off for a 79-yard touchdown, so it’s hard to say that he was wrong. But Fitz might have been able to run that one, too. Denard will tell you that.”

So, maybe Toussaint could picked up 86 yards on nine carries, had Robinson handed the ball off on the second play of Michigan’s first drive of the game. Robinson, instead, ran for 218 yards on 20 carries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.