Alternate Ending Comment Count

Ace November 17th, 2012 at 4:07 PM


In a way, it was fitting.

Denard Robinson's Michigan Stadium career did not begin according to script. It started with a fumbled snap, then became something magnificent.

It ended with him unable to throw a football, but still very able to take the Big House's collective breath away.

Robinson trotted out onto the field with the starters not as a quarterback, but as a tailback, taking a handoff from understudy Devin Gardner for three yards. Over the course of the game, he'd accumulate 98 rushing yards on 13 carries and add two receptions—the first of his career—for an additional 24 yards, lining up everywhere from quarterback to wingback to receiver in a 42-17 victory. While it wasn't the ending anyone had hoped for, there was at least still a little of the Denard magic left, especially on a 40-yard run to end the first quarter that featured an ankle-breaking juke of Iowa safety Tanner Miller.

Once again, the star was Gardner, who accounted for six touchdowns—coming on Michigan's first six possessions—with three through the air and three on the ground. Iowa's soft zone defense looked helpless in its attempts to stop the Wolverine passing game; Gardner finished 18-of-23 for 314 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, with all three scores meeting little Hawkeye resistance. Jeremy Gallon had a career-high 133 receiving yards on five receptions, while Roy Roundtree turned in a second consecutive stellar performance with five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Al Borges used the threat of Gardner and Robinson to give Iowa's defense fits, perhaps giving a glimpse of what's to come in Columbus next week. A triple(!) reverse to Denard unfortunately was called back due to a hold. The threat of a Denard jet sweep opened up a cavernous hole for a Vincent Smith throwback screen, which the senior back took in for a fitting senior day touchdown. The most interesting wrinkle met a most unfortunate end when Fitzgerald Toussaint suffered a gruesome leg injury after taking an option pitch from Robinson.*

The defense gave up a score on Iowa's second drive before stiffening up, allowing just 221 yards in the final three quarters as an endless array of dumpoffs to tight ends and running backs couldn't sustain any real threat. Greg Davis was Greg Davis, Greg Mattison was Greg Mattison, and that went as expected. With Desmond Morgan out with an undisclosed injury, James Ross may have established himself as the weakside linebacker of the future, finishing with 12 tackles (9 solo) while showing advanced instincts and sideline-to-sideline speed.

Aside from the pregame festivities and quarterback-related dramatics, it was a mundane beating of a hapless Iowa squad. That much, at least, went according to plan. And while Denard Robinson's Big House finale may not have had a fairytale ending, there are worse ways to go out than with a few more virtuoso runs and a resounding victory.

Of course, Robinson's story isn't over yet. In Columbus, the stage is set for one final twist.

*There's no official word on Toussaint's injury except that he's currently undergoing surgery (via Hoke), but the ESPN replays and this photo from Eric—WARNING: GRAPHIC—tell an ugly story. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Fitz.



November 18th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

because of medical complications, another surgery, a position change, and a transfer to USC.  But then you knew that, and you also know I was refering to his tenure at Michigan after he broke his leg playing Wisconsin.  So yeah, I hope things do go better for FT than they did for Justin Fargas.

Troll on dude, troll on.



November 17th, 2012 at 4:18 PM ^

... hopefully he recovers speedily and well, and returns to don the winged helmet next year. Hopefully Morgan also just needs some rest, and Denard's elbow has a pass or two left in it.

Good game. What's next?


November 17th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

I'd like to point out that it appeared that James Ross gave up the two long passes to right ends in the fourth quarter. Other than that, he looked great, but, as a true freshman, he needs to work on his coverage.


November 17th, 2012 at 4:44 PM ^

He also gave up Iowa's first TD when he failed to make the proper drop into coverage. He's kind of like Jake Ryan was as a frosh (although Ryan had the benefit of a redshirt): the potential is definitely there, he is just still learning how to play the game at the college level.


November 17th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

Not sure what he was trying to pull w/ the last onside kick and trying to score again.  I was kind of happy to see our D lay a lick on the QB as he tried to run out of bounds.


November 18th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

I'm OK with having a few starters in if they need the experience, or there is some other legit reason. Coaches know that they risk injury, but sometimes that risk is worth it to gain experience on the field.

In the context of a blowout, what really ought to change is the playcalling. The winning team shouldn't be going the jugular when it is comfortably up. It was wrong when Woody Hayes did it in  1968, and it was wrong when Michigan's Jim Harbaugh did it against USC.


November 17th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

There's a big difference between "as he tried to run out of bounds" and the clear fact that he was already well out of bounds. It was a cheap shot and we should NEVER be happy that it occurred. Imagine how you would feel if that had happened to any of our players.


November 18th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

I remember Tiller was trying to pretty up the score (then, like now, the game was clearly over so there was really no chance to win). Tiller I think scored 2 TDs and recovered 2 onside kicks in the last few minutes after we smoked them all game.


November 17th, 2012 at 4:48 PM ^

I very much liked what I saw from Michigan's offense today.  I think the combination of Gardner playing like this with Robinson in the backfield is something that will give OSU's defensive coordinator some cold chills. 

Gardner showed some very, very, very nice poise in the pocket.

I worry a lot less about 2013 than I did.

With respect to Fitz's injury ... ouch.  Holy crap, ouch.




November 17th, 2012 at 4:58 PM ^

Boop Boop Boop Boop Boop Boop


…..and now, let’s throw it out to Sally with a report from Ann Arbor.   

Hello, this a Sally with DNN, the Devine News Network, coming to you live from a game of sport in the northern part of the United States.  Here, once again, the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God has struck, but this time it was not another in a long string of Hawkeyes to feel this god’s wrath.  The unfortunate target in this game was a well loved and respected Michigan running back.  However, this is not the first time he has decided to branch out.

As many of you know, the AIRBHG, as he has been come to know by those that both loath and fear him did not always turn his attention to football.  In his younger years, he was a much lower ranked deity given the task to simply aggravate people in his given areas of responsibility.  The AIRBHT was the god of clogged cutlery drawers, misplaced keys, and soup cans that have been left abandoned on a grocery store shelf.  It was his innovative techniques that caught the attention of the major deities which allowed for his meteoric rise to the position he holds today.  Clearly not satisfied with his current position, and possessing the drive and ambition to continue to move up the divine mountain, the AIRBHG has shown just what he is capable of.

When I spoke with the coach of the Wolverines, he told me that he understood the threat and he shared his concerns with his players, especially the former quarterback who today was to undergo a position switch.  Denard told us that he only wanted to do his best to be a good team mate, to work hard as a Michigan Man, and do what his coaches asked him to do.  It was all for the team, I mean, his offensive line was going to block, Devin was going to throw, and he was going to run if that is what the coaches wanted to help get a win for his team.  Hoke followed up that he did try to appease the god with a virgin, as is the old fashion custom.  Not to kill, mind you, just well, who knows what the higher up gods want them for.  Hoke was unwilling to use a student at Ann Arbor so he instead turned to East Lansing.  Unfortunately, none could be found. 

We here at DNN are interested in the carrier of the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, but our best wishes and prayers go out to this kind, well liked, unfortunate young Wolverine.  May he have a speedy recovery. 


Back to you…



November 17th, 2012 at 5:11 PM ^

As crazy as that play looked, I'm pretty sure it was just a regular old double reverse.

It starts out as a sweep to the left with Smith. Smith then piches to Gallon for what would be a reverse. Gallon then pitches to Robinson for the double reverse.

Michigan used to do this all the time. The reverses and the QB throwback screen were about all the fun things the offense would do in the Lloyd years. The team would run a single-reverse in just about every game, and then usually once a year they'd mix it up and go with the double reverse.

I remember this happening specifically against Wisconsin in the Ron Dayne game. We'd been running the reverse with David Terrell all year, and in that game we started Marcus Knight on the reverse and he pitched it to Terrell who took it in for a TD.


November 18th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

I agree. I really hate it when announcers call an end around a reverse or a regular reverse a double reverse. Just cause there were two handoffs doesn't make it a double reverse. Maybe if the QB starts with sweep motion, but just handing off to a back like this play doesn't make it a single reverse.


November 17th, 2012 at 5:40 PM ^

I wish they would have held off on the fake reverse and throwback...thats a great play and no doubt would end up getting them six in columbus.  Still, itll be fun to see what the offense does next week.

Willis Ward

November 18th, 2012 at 9:01 AM ^

I would be shocked if what we saw today was anything more than a set up for next week.  It is kitchen sink time.  I was excited about the "Fritz" package last year but Devin wasn't ready.  Now that he is fully baked, a backfield with him and Denard is deadly.

Also, how fun is it going to be to watch Boren try to cover Funchess?



November 17th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

Dear Brian,

Can you front-page the video of Denard's first snap so I can get nostalgic and the room can get all dusty?


I'll Miss You Shoelace


November 17th, 2012 at 5:57 PM ^

With a play like that, the trick is now obvious. It wasn't necessary to show it -- run the jet sweep right, and then hit the throwback next week, when it will likely matter more. I don't mind running the other formations with Denard at positions other than QB, because you can still run wrinkles off of those. With the throwback though, you've shown it.

Hopefully there's more up the sleeve, and it doesn't end up being like 2011 Minnesota.


November 17th, 2012 at 7:18 PM ^

I had no clue it was his leg. At the game they showed one replay and it looked like he got hit in the head and I thought it was a concussion. That break looks awful, hopefully he gets better!