Michigan's Denard Robinson says he can rebound, but now he's got to prove it
ANN ARBOR -- When it comes to Denard Robinson, no one inside the Michigan football locker room is ready to give up.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges insist Robinson has gotten back to the basics of playing quarterback, and say they have to do a better job of putting him in the right positions during games.
Teammates say there's no one else they'd rather play with, or follow behind as a leader than Robinson, despite the fact that he turned the ball over five times two weeks ago at Notre Dame.
Even opponents aren't buying Robinson's struggles as anything more than a small bump in the road -- he's still the same guy that can turn nothing into an 80-yard touchdown.
"(Robinson's) stats, they're skewed a llitte bit against him (because) of the quality of competition," said Purdue coach Danny Hope, who will have to defend Robinson on Saturday (4 p.m., BTN) "Their offense, they do a lot of things. They can feature a two-back offense, the play-action pass. Some offense that's designed on decision-making with run-pass options, which is huge for Denard."
The talk, from both sides, is certainly behind Robinson.
But in the end, can he rebound from the worst performance of his college career, or will constant fits with poor decision-making and struggles against the blitz just mean more of the same for the rest of the season?
"When you turn the ball over like we did, it’s hard to say (we're improving in the pass game)," Borges said earlier this week. "But by the same token there wasn’t any problem finding some good plays in that game. He threw a couple really good balls. He threw a beautiful comeback -- a couple comebacks.
"He had some good passes, he did some nice things, but it’s always going to be blurred by the fact that there were too many turnovers.”
The coaching staff insists Robinson has the tools to be an effective passer, and the bulk of his interception issue has always come back to poor decisions.
Not throwing the ball away, or running, when there's nowhere to throw. Taking something short instead of trying to fit something deep. Taking a sack once in a while rather than forcing something, and not being deathly afraid to punt the football if a series breaks down.
The coaching staff says it can fix all of that.
And through four games, despite all the turnovers and struggles to move the ball through the air, Michigan isn't giving up on Denard Robinson.
“You can’t ever think (he's hit his ceiling in our system)," Borges said. "I can’t ever think that. If I think that you might as well get somebody else to coach. I don’t believe that. You have to coach with the intent that you can make the kid better in every way, shape, or form, and I believe the kid can get better. He’s not the first guy to throw four interceptions. We’re going to continue to work on decision-making and footwork and those kinds of things, because going into that game, we had a couple of deals, but nothing you could say, ‘Oh my god, that’s a step backwards,’ you know.
"Until this game, we just -- we looked like we were making some headway, but we’ll get back to it. ”
All the talk seems in the right place.
Now it's time to find out if it's true.