Tale of 2 halves: Denard Robinson sets Michigan TD mark, but finishes game on bench
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Denard Robinson has had one of the storied careers in Michigan football, and no one can take that away from him.
But they can take away his playing time.
And with the most important game on the schedule hanging in the balance -- the final regular-season game of his career -- Michigan's career leader in yards and touchdowns found himself on the bench.
Robinson played quarterback and tailback Saturday against Ohio State, but was held off the field for the final two series while the No. 20 Wolverines tries to erase a five-point deficit. They didn't finish the job, falling 26-21.
It was the end to a frustrating day, and frustrating regular season, for the senior.
"We knew we were the reason we lost the game," a tight-lipped Robinson said after the game. "We had three turnovers in the second half, and that's not acceptable to win the game."
Robinson now has missed four consecutive starts at quarterback after sustaining nerve damage in his throwing elbow against Nebraska. He and coaches say he's healthy enough to pass, but didn't attempt one.
Coach Brady Hoke said Robinson was withheld for the final two series because fill-in quarterback Devin Gardner was more capable of making the passes required for a comeback.
Robinson still provided his usual fireworks, highlighted by a spectacular 67-yard touchdown run in the first half on which he shed two would-be tacklers hitting him on either side, then jetted for the end zone one last time in the regular season.
The score was the 91st of Robinson's career, breaking Chad Henne's Michigan record. He also moved into second place all-time in rushing yards by a quarterback, and is 85 yards shy of Pat White's record.
Robinson had 124 yards on six carries in the first half, helping No. 20 Michigan (8-4, 6-2) hold off the No. 4 Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0) for a 21-20 halftime lead.
But it was a tale of two halves for the senior, and the script flipped on the first drive of the third quarter. He was called upon for a fourth-and-2 run and was stuffed, giving Ohio State the ball with good field position.
It turned into a field goal that gave the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish.
Robinson took the blame after the game, saying he was supposed to bounce the run outside but cut upfield too soon.
"We still could have played ball," he said. "One play can’t change the whole game."
Robinson coughed up the ball on the next drive, and finished with minus-2 yards rushing on four carries after halftime. He was least effective under center, when Ohio State keyed against the run -- he has yet to attempt a pass since injuring the elbow -- and easily stuffed him as well as the tailbacks to whom he handed off.
Robinson said he noticed the safeties crowding the box when he was at quarterback, anticipating the run, but Hoke said he didn't think the offense became too predictable.
"Coach calls the play, and we went with it," Robinson said. "Just focus and go play ball. Go with what coach calls."
The final call was for him to stand on the sideline while Michigan tried to mount a comeback without him.
After so many rallies engineered by Robinson over the years, it was an unusual sight -- and a preview of what is to come.