Denard Robinson runs over UMass in blowout victory

By Cameron McDonough

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Facing a third-and-nine from the Massachusetts 36-yard line with no available receivers in sight, Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson did what he does best; he decided to run.

And run he did.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Robinson danced his way through the Minutemen defense, eluding multiple defenders on his way to the end zone, putting the Wolverines (2-1) up 35-10 at the time with four minutes left in the second quarter.

 

What was UMass coach Charley Molnar’s reaction to the acrobatic play?

“Gosh, I was hoping he would throw it,” Molnar said. “I know once he tucks it and gets past the line of scrimmage you know it’s a first down, it’s just a matter of how far he is going to go with it.”

It was a common theme throughout the game, as Robinson rushed for 106 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries, before he was taken out late in third quarter with his team up 56-13. Robinson also had an impressive game through the air, completing 16 of his 24 attempts for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

UMass simply had no way to simulate in practice the talent it saw from Robinson Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in front of 110,708 fans, and it showed.

“Well it’s impossible to replicate in practice is the number one thing,” Molnar said. “There is just no one like that on our football team. There’s really no one like that in the country.

“So how do you get ready for him? You can’t. You just have to be able to be athletic enough and be disciplined enough to try to make the plays when he comes to you. When he got space, it’s impossible to tackle him. Our guys just weren’t up to that task today.”

Robinson wasn’t perfect though. He was guilty of throwing an interception, which was returned for a 32-yard touchdown by UMass safety Christian Birt with 9:49 left in the second quarter.

Robinson also fumbled the ball as he dove for the end zone late in the second quarter, but redshirt junior left tackle Taylor Lewan was there to save the day and recover the ball for a touchdown.

Robinson admitted that he made some mistakes. The Heisman Trophy candidate said he has room to improve.

“I left a couple of throws out on the field that I probably know I should’ve made,” Robinson said.

The Minutemen defense wasn’t the only thing Robinson was tearing up on Saturday. He also soared past Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh on the Wolverines’ all-time passing yards list, jumping into sole possession of fifth place.

A humble Robinson shook off a question in his postgame press conference when he was asked what it meant to him to pass Brady and Harbaugh.

“To be honest with you I don’t think about records,” Robinson said. “I just go out there and play as a team.”

Robinson passed Brady on the opening drive of the game, which ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end Devin Funchess, which put Michigan up 7-0.

He moved past Harbaugh on the next scoring drive when he completed a 66-yard pass to junior wide receiver Drew Dileo. Senior running back Vincent Smith followed up the big gain with a 5-yard rushing touchdown, putting the Wolverines up 14-3.

UMass even got a glimpse of why Robinson’s nickname is “Shoelace” when he lost his shoe in the middle of a big gain on the ground. The play was called back, however, thanks to a holding penalty.

Injuries hurt Minutemen

The Minutemen will head back to Amherst badly bruised after their date with the Wolverines on Saturday.

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Galen Clemons, redshirt senior left tackle Stephane Milhim and freshman wide receiver Dalvin Battle all suffered injuries during the course of the game.

Battle’s injury was the worst of all and Molnar fears he may be done for the season.

“I think his knee, it was a non-contact injury,” Molnar said. “He tried to make a cut and when he turned up field with the ball his knee just went and I don’t think it’s good. I think he’s going to be done. Just based on the initial observations. I hope they’re wrong but usually they are not in those cases.”

Clemons’ injury kept him out of the rest of the game, but Molnar does not think it is as severe as Battle’s.

“He got his head banged in,” Molnar said. “He wanted to go back in but I don’t know if that was because he was feeling better or his head was banged in and he didn’t know his capabilities.”

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.