It took absolutely zero numbers to know that Denard was very very good against UConn Saturday. We could easily just leave the conversation there, but then I wouldn’t get to use my handy database this week, and really, what fun would that be.
First games are very hard to put into perspective right away. We really have no idea if we played against the future Big East Champions or a mediocre team from a mediocre conference. To solve this, I took two independent approaches. The first was to just strip out the strength of opponent factor and compare it to other performances regardless of opponent. The second way is to add the games from this weekend into the database as if they were a part of last season and use the 2009 adjustment factor.
Not to spoil all the fun but if you don’t want to read on, I’ll make this real easy. Those of you who follow me on twitter already saw that Saturday was the best performance by Michigan quarterback that I have on record, which is almost every game since 2003.
On The Ground: +12 PAN
Without adjusting for competition for anyone, Robinson’s day on the ground was the best rushing game by a Michigan player in my database. It was .01, basically tied with, ahead of Mike Hart’s 2004 game against Illinois when we went for 231 yards on 39 carries.
It was the third best rushing performance of anyone under Rodriguez as a head coach. Only Pat White’s +14 against Pitt in 2005 and Kay-Jay Harris’s +16 against East Carolina in 2004 were better.
It was the third best ground performance by a Big Ten player, the 27th best of any quarterback and the 90th best overall, including many performances against teams much weaker than UConn.
Through The Air: +9 PAN
+9 through the air is a very good day by itself, even without the spectacular +12 on the ground. In fact, the unadjusted +9 is 15th among Michigan passers. Ahead of him are 10 Henne games, 2 Navarre games and Forcier’s first two games of last year.
In his three years under Rodriguez, Pat White had four +9 performances, as did Rasheed Marshall.
Putting it All Together: +21 PAN
Looking at the total performance, Dernard cracks the top 200 performances list that is dominated by heavy passers. When accounting for competition, Denard still comes up 7/11 PAN (7 passing, 11 rushing). Only three BCS conference players had ever done that before Denard on Saturday. Brad Smith and Jake Locker each did it once while Vince Young managed the feat three times.
Getting First Downs
Maybe the most impressive thing about Denard’s day was his ability to get first downs, especially on third down. Excluding the final run out the clock drive, Robinson was good for 12 first downs rushing. Only two QB’s since 2003 have ever topped that and 12 is good for top 50 including running backs.
On third down, Robinson’s seven rushing conversions were the fourth most since 2003. His 11 overall conversions were top 20.