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.
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.