Posts Tagged 'denard robinson'

College FootBlog College Football Week 2 Recap

Denard Robinson worked his magic on Notre Dame again last weekend (photo courtesy of Melanie Maxwell I, annarbor.com)

With the end of week 2, the 2011 college football season continues to take shape.  <a href=”collegesportsfeed.com”>CSF</a> highlights five of the most crucial outcomes from the second week of the young college football season.

Denard Robinson is still lightning in a bottle: After having an up and down game through the first three quarters against Notre Dame, Michigan’s dynamic play maker saved his best for last in what was an instant classic in one of the most storied rivalries in college football.  Robinson threw for two touchdowns in the final 1:02 of the game, capping off yet another performance that saw him rush for over 100 yards and throw for over 300 yards.  Health is the key for Robinson, whose body wore down the second half of 2010, but he proved once again that he is arguably the most exciting player in all of college football.

<strong><a href=”auburn.rivals.com”>Auburn</a> bounces back: </strong> After needing a recovery of an on-side kick to knock off visiting <a href=”utahstate.rivals.com”>Utah State</a> in week 1, the Tigers played host to <a href=”mississippi.rivals.com”>Mississippi State</a>.  In another of the many thrillers of week 2.  Auburn stopped Mississippi State quarterback <a href=”mississippistate.rivals.com”>Chris Relf</a> just in front of the goal line, which prevented overtime.  The tough SEC schedule will only get tougher, but the Tigers passed a major test in week 2, against a legitimate top 25 team.

Richt officially on the hot seat:  Opening against two top 10 teams to start your season would be a tall order for any program, but that’s exactly what Mark Richt and Georgia has done in 2011.  After taking on a gritty and underappreciated Boise State team (currently ranked #4 in both major polls), the Bulldogs had to play host to last year’s SEC East champs, South Carolina (currently ranked #10 in the AP poll).  Bruising tailback Marcus Lattimore made up for quarterback Stephen Garcia’s dismal performance, by rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown.  In yet another game that went down to the wire, Georgia fell 45-42, making them 0-2 to start the season.  After going 6-7 last year, Richt can’t afford another losing season in 2011, and he has his work cut out for him to catch up after dropping the first two games of this young season.

Russell Wilson continues to impress: After being shunned by NC State head coach Tom O’Brien for electing to play professional baseball this summer, Wisconsin gladly accepted the talented senior quarterback, and Wilson has delivered.  In the first two games, Wilson has picked up right where he left off, when he led the NC State Wolfpack for his three years as their starter.  Wilson is completing over 79% of his passes and has thrown for five touchdowns with no picks, and he has also added 73 yards and a touchdown rushing.

Garrett Gilbert is out in Texas:  In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Gilbert, then a true freshman, relieved an injured Colt McCoy against the top defense in the country, Alabama, and he passed with flying colors.  Although the Longhorns lost that game, Gilbert’s poise and athletic ability gave fans in Austin a lot to look forward to–at least they that’s what they thought.  Last season, much of the blame for Texas’ offensive woes was blamed on Gilbert, who completed less than 60% of his passes with just 10 TDs to go along with 17 picks.  In the first two games of the 2011 season, the junior signal-caller has done even worse, completing just 45% of his passes with two TDs and four picks.  Head coach Mack Brown decided last week during the BYU game that enough was enough and replaced Gilbert with back ups Case McCoy and David Ash, who are expected to split time for the remainder of the season, while Gilbert watches from the sidelines.

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College FootBlog 3rd & 1: Week 8

For the second consecutive week, College FootBlog rolls out our 3rd & 1 feature, which breaks down three observations from the college football action from the previous weekend.  And we finish by giving one key match up to look for in the upcoming week.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

1st:  Another week, another set of hangover games.   Last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide fell at South Carolina after thumping the hated Florida Gators the week before.  This weekend, Kentucky returned the favor.  Steve Spurrier took his Gamecocks into Lexington, and the Wildcats shocked them 31-28.  Not to be outdone, Oregon State lost a double-overtime thriller to Washington, just one week after knocking off previously undefeated Arizona.   

2nd:  Michigan QB Denard Robinson cannot take the punishment of a full Big Ten schedule.  Although Robinson is the most explosive player in college football, Rich Rodriguez has no other legitimate weapons on offense, making Robinson a one-man show.  Robinson is on pace for around 250 rushes this year–if his body can take it.  They need more production and more carries from their running backs to take some pressure off Robinson (RB Vincent Smith is second on the team in yards and carries and currently has nearly half the rushes (70) that Robinson has accumulated this season.  More importantly, Robinson, who is listed 6’0″ and only 188 lbs. does not have the body to take that many hits in the thick of the Big Ten schedule.

Wisconsin's bruising running back, John Clay took it to Ohio State this past weekend (google images)

3rd:  John Clay is the real deal.  The Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, along with Wisconsin’s massive offensive line smacked Ohio State right in the mouth this weekend, en route to this season’s biggest upset as they took dominated the Buckeyes 31-18.  Clay led the Badgers’ ground assault with 104 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries (5.0 yards per carry).  Behind arguably the most physical offensive line in the country, the 255 lb. junior proved to be too much for a Ohio State defense that features seven players who could be playing in the NFL in the very near future.  Clay and fellow tailback James White will get another opportunity to shine on national television this upcoming weekend when they travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes.  If he has a similar performance against Iowa’s stout defense, Heisman voters will be forced to take notice.

…and 1:  Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert will get his first major test of 2010 this weekend when Oklahoma comes to town.  At 265 yards per game, Gabbert ranks 20th in the country.  Statistically, the Sooners defense has been far from stellar this season, but a closer look shows that Bob Stoops’ squad has brought their A-Game in their only two legitimate contests so far this season.  The Sooners shut down Florida State in week 2 and rattled Texas QB Garrett Gilbert in the Red River Rivalry game a couple of weeks ago.  Look for OU to come after Gabbert, who has battled through a hip injury.  The Sooners will bring it this upcoming weekend, and they will look to ruin Mizzou’s homecoming weekend on the national TV game of the week.

College FootBlog Spotlight: Denard Robinson

Heading into the 2010 college football season at Ann Arbor, it wasn’t even clear who the starter at quarterback would be, so there was obviously no talk of Heisman

Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.  It’s very early in the season, but Denard Robinson has put himself and his team back on the map, and in the process, he may also be saving his head coach, Rich Rodriguez’ job. 

All Robinson has done to this point is lead the nation in total offense and beat hated Notre Dame in week 2.  In this edition of College FootBlog, we examine three reasons for optimism for Michigan fans, and we also break down the three biggest hurdles standing in his way to making the trip to New York this December.

Feeling Optimistic?  Robinson has done more than his part to be in the national spotlight, but here are three factors that play in his favor to continue his momentum:

1.  Opposing Defenses:  With Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin left on the schedule, you would think this would be a negative.  True, going against three of the best defenses in the country will provide a significant challenge, a closer look at the rest of Michigan’s opponents, and more notably, the defenses they will face, should have Robinson salivating.  Of the final nine games of the regular season, the Wolverines will face only two (Ohio State and Iowa) that are currently ranked in the top 25 in total defense.  And next week’s opponent, Bowling Green, is ranked 111th nationally in that category.

Denard Robinson has put himself in the mix for this year's Heisman race (google images)

2.  National Television:  If Michigan can continue to win, they have a chance to play nationally televised games against Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and the showdown against the Buckeyes on November 27th.  This could backfire if Robinson has a bad game or two, but with his explosiveness and knack for the big play, it could also play hugely in his favor.  He has proven so far this season that the more opportunities he gets, the more big plays he produces.

3.  Ohio State:  With the defensive woes that Michigan has shown (most recently against FCS opponent UMass last weekend), there is very little chance that Michigan will be in the hunt for a Big Ten title this season, and by the time the Big Game against the hated Buckeyes rolls around, the Wolverines could have nothing to lose.  This actually plays into Michigan and Robinson’s favor.  Rich-Rod has been known for trick plays and gambling, but look for him to pull out all stops against OSU.  If the game stays tight, even against one of the best defenses in the nation (OSU), Robinson has the speed and athleticism that is impossible to defend.  This scenario could provide Robinson with a couple of opportunities for a signature Heisman moment if the Wolverines were to pull off the unthinkable and take down the Buckeyes at the Horseshoe in the final week of the regular season.

Not so fast, my friend.  Here are the three factors that could keep Robinson from punching his plane ticket to New York City:

1.  Ohio State:  Just as this game could catapult Robinson to center stage of the Heisman race, this game could also be catastrophic.  Since his arrival at OSU, Jim Tressel has owned the Wolverines, going 8-1 in this rivalry game.  Of this success, there has been one constant–defense.  Tressel has consistently produced top 10 defenses since coming to Columbus, and the 2010 version could be his best yet.  Also, considering this game is at the Horseshoe, it could be a rough finale to the regular season for Robinson.

2.  Michigan’s Final Record:  Unless Michigan can find a dominant defense in the next two weeks, they will inevitably lose some games this season, and despite the 3-0 start, they have quite a task if they want to finish out the season with 7-8 wins.  Although it is not a requirement that you win your conference to take home the Heisman, the numbers are telling.  Six out of the last seven Heisman winners played on teams that won their respective conference.  Robinson would likely have to “buck” that trend (no pun intended).

3.  Robinson Must Stay Healthy:  At 6’0″ and 188 lbs., Robinson is not the biggest, most physical QB in the Big Ten.  His style of play and the number of carries as he gets into the thick of conference play in the Big Ten could prove to be a difficult task.  If he can stay healthy and continue to get the number of carries he has managed to this point, the stats will be there.  One big hit, however, could be the difference maker in whether or not he continues to light up the scoreboard like he has so far this season.

2010 Heisman Race: Entering Week 3

In the preseason, College FootBlog put a list together of Heisman candidates and five Heisman Dark Horses.  Just two weeks into the 2010 season, a couple of those players have lost a lot of momentum, and as is the case every season, there are others who have played their way onto the Watch List. 

In this edition of College FootBlog, we take a look at five players who have increased their stock and five more who could be on the outside looking in, based on where things stand after week 2.

Who’s Hot?

Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State):  Pryor had a big week against Miami last weekend, and that may have him as the candidate to beat.  He will still have a couple of big tests against Iowa and Wisconsin.  Solid performances in those two games could easily seal the deal for the junior QB.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson leads the nation in total yards (google images)

Denard Robinson (QB/Michigan):  Many were surprised to see Robinson take the starting job away from Tate Forcier, but after his second huge game last weekend against rival Notre Dame, the sophomore quarterback leads the nation in total offense with a staggering 442 yards per game.  If he can continue to rack up wins for Michigan, and if he can generate big yardage against Ohio State to end the season, he could be the next sophomore to bring home the prestigious award.

Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas):  Mallett has thrown for a little 701 yards and six TDs in the first two games of the season, but his true test(s) will come when he is in the thick of SEC play.  His fourth game of the season against Alabama will likely determine whether or not Mallett stays on this list.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  The Broncos took a week off after the win against Virginia Tech.  Despite leading his team to a fourth quarter comeback victory, Moore’s Heisman hopes and BSU’s hopes for a BCS National Championship took a huge blow when Va Tech lost to James Madison last weekend.  Oregon State’s opening week loss to TCU also hurt Moore’s chance to play in front of a national audience.

John Clay (RB/Wisconsin):  The bruising running back has been solid so far this season, rushing for 260 yards and four TDs.  As we mentioned in our Heisman Dark Horse article, his true test will come in back-to-back weeks, when the Badgers host Ohio State (Oct. 16) and Iowa (Oct. 23). 

Who’s Not?

Mark Ingram (RB/Alabama):  The reigning Heisman winner already had the odds against him before the season started because he shares the backfield with teammate Trent Richardson.  A knee injury later, and Ingram is effectively out of the race because he has been held out of the first two games.

Christian Ponder (QB/Florida State):  We had him listed as a dark horse candidate, but Ponder received a lot of media attention after he was named the ACC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Last weekend was catastrophic to his chances of making the trip to New York, Oklahoma entered the game with something to prove after struggling against Utah State.  Ponder was held to 113 yards passing and two interceptions against the Sooners.

Quizz Rodgers (RB/Oregon State):  Week 1’s loss to TCU hurt the electric running back’s chances, as he only managed 75 yards rushing.  A couple big games could get him back in the hunt because he did not play poorly and managed to find the end zone. 

Dion Lewis (RB/Pitt):  Like Rodgers, Lewis had a rough week one, losing to Utah.  And like Rodgers, Pitt’s explosive back only managed 75 yards and a touchdown in week one.  He will get a couple more shots to throw his hat back in the ring, when Pitt takes on Miami and Notre Dame in the next few weeks, but after the Utah game, he has some catching up to do.

Jake Locker (QB/Washington):  Although his stats have been great (555 yards passing and five TDs through the air and another touchdown on the ground), Locker’s team will have to finish with at least a .500 record for him to get any support from the voters.  The Huskies lost their opener against BYU and must take on Nebraska next, where they are 4 point underdogs.

2010 College Football Big Ten Preview (#6-#11)

With Spring Football officially in the books and summer workouts right around the corner, College FootBlog is taking a conference by conference look at the upcoming 2010 football season.  In last week’s edition, we provided a breakdown and power ranking for each division of the ACC (see links for Atlantic and Coastal).

In this week’s two-part article, we take a look at the Big Ten, giving insight and analysis from last season, what we learned from the spring and what the outlook will be for this fall.  In Part I of the Big Ten breakdown, we rank the preseason #6-#11 teams, which will be immediately followed by our top five.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald coaches with the same emotion with which he played (google images)

6:  Northwestern:  Pat Fitzgerald does more with little than any coach in the FBS.  His Wildcats will once again be counted out by most pollsters, but don’t be surprised if they exceed expectations again in 2010 (even in our poll).  NU loses seven wideouts from last year’s team and must also replace quarterback Mike Kafka.  Filling the role of trigger man for the NU offense will be Dan Persa, who had a solid spring and has more running ability than Kafka.  The defense should be decent, led by a couple of senior linebackers, Quentin Davie and Nate Williams.  Regardless of depth and overall talent, Coach Fitzgerald will have his team playing hard and smart, and that should be enough to get them to another bowl game this fall.

7.  Purdue:  The Boilermakers should be an interesting team in 2010.  This year, former Miami Hurricanes’ quarterback Robert Marve is eligible and will get his opportunity to be the starter.  If they are going to keep this power ranking, they must improve on their defense against the run, which gave up more than 170 yards on the ground per game.  The Boilermakers proved to Ohio State last year that they can play well in West Lafayette, and with visits from MinnesotaMichigan and Indiana, Purdue will have a great opportunity to finish above those programs at season’s end. 

8.  Michigan:  Rich Rodriguez is going to be coaching for his job this fall.  After a 4-0 start last season, the Wolverines dropped seven of their last eight games, and the defense was…well…not good, ranking 82nd nationally in a conference that did was not known last season for having explosive offenses.  Tate Forcier is a very exciting player at QB, and Denard Robinson gives defenses a change of pace, but all the offense in the world will not be enough unless the defense improves dramatically this season.

9.  Indiana:  Quarterback Ben Chappell returns for his senior season and despite throwing for nearly 3,000 yards last season, he must improve his TD/Int ratio, which was 17/15 last fall.  The Hoosiers travel to Ohio State and Wisconsin this year and play host to Iowa and Penn State.  Barring a huge upset, they will be 0-4 in those games, and it will be all they can do to escape the cellar of the conference.  IU ranked 88th in total defense last year, and unless something changes in a big way, they will have a similar defense this time around.  A bad defense and an offense that turns the ball over will make it difficult to stay above water in the Big Ten in 2010.

10:  Minnesota:  After a solid 2008 season, quarterback Adam Weber took a step backwards last season, throwing more picks (15) than he did touchdowns (13).  The Gophers sported the Big Ten’s worst offense, and only managed 13 rushing touchdowns all season.  They now have their third offensive coordinator in three years, which makes it hard to believe things will change for the better in 2010.  Defensively, the entire front seven from last year’s middle-of-the-pack defense is gone.  Final verdict–things are not looking good for the 2010 campaign in Minneapolis.

11.  Illinois:  The Ron Zook experiment will likely come to an end this season.  Zook has always been an elite recruiter, but he has once again proven that he cannot put a championship football team together, despite having enough talent to compete with anyone in his conference.  The departure of Arrelious Benn takes away the Illini’s only legitimate playmaker from last year’s team.

Look for our Top 5 Preseason Teams from the Big Ten tomorrow!

Michigan Football: Practice Makes Perfect?

Just two weeks into this college football season, Rich Rodriguez and his Michigan Wolverines have already had their share of highs and lows.  Only days before Michigan’s first game of the 2009 season a couple weeks ago, media outlets reported that former and current players had come forward with allegations that Rodriguez and his staff had blatantly broken several NCAA rules, most of which dealt with the limitations of practice hours for student athletes.

Rodriguez and his coaching staff are making serious headway in 2009

Rodriguez and his coaching staff are making serious headway in 2009

Not only did they win their opening week game against Western Michigan in dominating fashion, the Wolverines took down hated rival Notre Dame this past weekend with an exciting 38-34 victory in front of the packed house at Michigan Stadium.

While the University of Michigan says it is investigating the practice allegations, the controversy seems to have brought the team together, and in his second season at the helm in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines are starting to click.

Like him or hate him, Rodriguez’s success should not be a surprise.  In his first year at West Virginia, he coached the Mountaineers to a feeble 3-8 season, but he led them to a bowl game and a 9-4 record in his second season there.

Starting to sound familiar?  Last season, coaching with players that did not match up with his offensive or defensive schemes, Rodriguez guided Michigan to a 3-9 record.

With last Saturday’s win over the Irish, the Wolverines are 2-0, and have a great opportunity to be 7-0 when they take on Penn State at the Big House on October 24th.  The toughest challenges in the coming weeks for Michigan will be at Michigan State on October 3rd and at Iowa the following weekend.

Michigan State no longer has Javon Ringer to shoulder 45+ carries a game for them, and they fell to Central Michigan at home last Saturday.  Iowa should present a challenge in Iowa City the following weekend, but the Hawkeyes just squeaked by FCS foe, Northern Iowa 17-16 at home.

Besides the NCAA allegations bringing this Michigan team closer together, Rodriguez is getting some great production from some young players who fit his system, and some of the veterans that Rodriguez did not recruit to Ann Arbor are stepping up as well.

Last weekend, senior running back, Brandon Minor gashed the Notre Dame defense for 106 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries.  The story of this offense in early this year, however, has been true freshman quarterback, Tate Forcier, who threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns, and he added another 70 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Fellow freshman QB, Denard Robinson has added 95 yards rushing and a touchdown for Rodriguez’s squad as well, but it is Forcier who leads the Wolverines in total yards rushing on the year, with 107.

It will, indeed, be an interesting year in Ann Arbor this season, but if the first two weeks of the 2009 season are any indication, the Wolverines are going to find themselves right back in the thick of the BCS conversations sooner rather than later.