Mailbag! Also Entirely About Denard Robinson! Comment Count

Brian September 17th, 2010 at 11:49 AM


Hi Brian,

I'm sure that you have been over this a million times as well, but what exactly is the redshirt rule?  I mean is it "time played" related or is it snap related?  Or is it something completely different?  Sorry this may be a very stupid question, but I figured id go to the man to find out the correct answer.


This confusion is largely my fault for repeated suggestions that I'd still like to see Gardner redshirt despite his presence on three Michigan snaps thus far. The rule is: if you play at all, no redshirt. There is an exception for players who get hurt. If you are hurt in the first 30% of the season (rounded up, so the first four games) and are then injured, you can get an redshirt. Junior Hemingway got one, Mike Jones will get one, Brandin Hawthorne got one… etc.

So if Devin Gardner was to come down with tendinitis or something after the BG game, he could get an injury redshirt. I'm not sure about this but I think it's not uncommon for a player to get "injured" after a few games. I don't think that's going to happen with Rodriguez going all out to win games this season and apparently believes Devin Gardner is his second-best quarterback. Maybe next year? I'm still crushing on the idea of fifth year senior Devin Gardner being the starting QB in 2014.

Meanwhile in Devin Gardner's potential relevance


I  I’ve been having a heated debate between some friends about Denard’s durability. I’m worried that opponents are going to take away the running backs in the run game, cover all the receivers and then let Denard run, therefore giving the defense an opportunity to pound and pound him again to see how durable he is. While I’ve been given all the “well, you can’t hit what you can’t catch” retorts, I am worried that against a very disciplined and physical defense, let’s say Iowa, that they’re going to let Denard run in the first half on purpose just so they can keep hitting him so he wears down in the second half. I feel like ND tried to do this and it didn’t work out too well for them, but they did manage to get some hits on him. I appreciate that Denard is taking what the defense is giving but at some point, I feel that a defense will let him run so much because they just want to hit him over and over again.

Am I being paranoid and there’s already a response in place (i.e. the plays where he runs and then throws to wide open receivers like Roundtree and T. Robinson) or is this a legit concern?


Keep up the great work.

Jin Shi

This probably stems from Fred Jackson's comments after the ND game asserting that Notre Dame was responsible for Robinson running so much by their formations and alignment and defenses and whatnot. That sounds implausible on its face and didn't seem like it was happening when I UFRed the game. Michigan's zone read metric was 5-2=3, and about half of those were handoffs. Notre Dame may have encouraged Robinson runs by hauling ass after those flare screens and giving an occasional keep read on the ZR, but that was the difference between 28 carries and maybe 22.


  • Robinson's going to run a lot on plays without even a read anyway.
  • Any defense that tries to get Robinson to keep the ball when he does have a read is insane, and…
  • Will probably only give themselves a few extra chances to hit Robinson at the expense of first downs.

I guess you could try it but since the chances of actually hitting the guy hard enough to impact his performance on any individual carry are very low, that's a gameplan that only the truly stupid would adopt.

Meanwhile in dilithium studies

intrigued by the raw speed we witnessed on Denard's scamper in South Bend (not to mention the unbelievable blocks --Omameh sledding Teo 7 yards through a safety AND throwing him down five-star-pancake-style! Roundtree blasting his dude! etc.) I felt compelled to apply some simple math to break down how quickly Robinson covered the 93 yards.

logic:  Denard starts the play in the shotgun standing on the left hash of the 7 yard line

he receives the snap and darts off the right tackle with a jab step in/out of the hole, proceeds to the edge of the numbers at the 20 yard line, then sets his sights for the tuba on the other end of the field. 

my simple math approximates a 27.295 yard hypotenuse from the snap to the twenty yard line (using sportsknowhow's ncaa field dimensions).  add the remaining 80 yards and it's 107.295 yards or 98.11 meters. 

I've run a stopwatch on this a few times and average 12.11 seconds which calculates to a 12.34 100 meter with pads, pigskin, jukes, and dreads.  that's dilithium.

enjoying the ride,
--entirely reasonable

so there you go.

Meanwhile in other paranoias

Hey Brian –

I am wondering what your thoughts are on the recent comments from incoming NCAA President Mark Emmert about him being in favor of handing out more harsh penalties for NCAA rule offenders. And if this in any way, shape or form could impact how the NCAA punishes Michigan?

There was an article on that referenced Michigan and other high profile programs that are currently under NCAA scrutiny as the NCAA enters the penalty phase for Mich. and other schools.

I am slightly concerned about this. While our offenses are IMO, are much less egregious than what transpired at USC or what's currently going on at UNC, and do not involve allegations of receiving improper benefits or dealings with agents, how would you gauge the likelihood that they [the NCAA] might be looking to make a "punishment statement" with Michigan and really hit us with more harsh penalties than we might be anticipating?

Thanks in advance for your input / insights on this.

Go Blue!

RJ Gerard

I think the level of concern expressed—slight—is about right. The NCAA has obviously stepped up its investigations, but nothing they've done so far is out of line with historical precedent. Marcus Ray missed half the '98 season because of contact with an agent, so holding out AJ Green or Marcell Dareus or everyone on UNC's defense doesn't represent a move to Xtreme Nforcement. It just seems like more of it. USC's penalty didn't seem harsh to me, it seemed just right. Meanwhile USC's basketball should have been obliterated and was not.

Michigan, meanwhile, has had some minor overages in a well-established category of offense and has proposed the same punishment everyone does: 2-for-1 giveback, restrictions on the number or abilities of coaches who did bad things. The NCAA might add a year of probation or something else comparatively minor, but that should be it, and then we can all move on.

Meanwhile in road games

FYI, U-M partnered with Zimride to provide an easy and convenient way to share a ride to away games.  It's a private site or U-M and requires a university email address to post.  Filling our cars = filling the rival's stadium with blue and maize!

It's free to use, check it out.


That is all.

Meanwhile in crazy hybrids

Hi Brian,

Ideally speaking, What kind of a quarterback do you think Rich Rodriguez wants for his offense? Denard Robinson, Terrelle Pryor, Pat White, Vince Young, Michael Vick, etc. Thanks!

Hudson, OH
LSA '00

Aren't those all kind of the same guy? I mean, Pryor and Young are taller, Robinson shorter, but all of them are kinda sorta the same guy. I think ideally Rodriguez would like a 6'4" or 6'5" guy who can stand in the pocket if he has to, but he'd also ideally like a guy with the explosive ability of Vick or Robinson. Problem is those guys essentially never come in the same package. The offense works either way, as Young, Vick, White, and Robinson have shown. And now I do something stupid and pick:

  1. Michael Vick
  2. Vince Young
  3. Denard Robinson
  4. Pat White
  5. Terrelle Pryor

Robinson's already a far more accurate passer than White ever was and seems about Pryor's equal (Pryor is more erratic but has more throws in his toolbox); he's more dynamic on the ground than both. Young was eventually an all-around passer while still maintaining that terrifying glide speed; Vick was probably the most dynamic quarterback in the history of the spread 'n' shred. Disclaimer: we have way more info on the four non-Robinson QBs here and he's liable to move down (or up!) based on future performance.

Michigan seems to be moving more in the Pryor/Young direction with Gardner and Kevin Sousa, both strapping lads in the 6'4"-6'5" range, but if Robinson 2.0 comes along Rodriguez will recruit that guy, too.



September 17th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

actually wants a true dual-threat QB with some size.  DG is a good example of a true dual-threat QB.  He very much prefer a QB who can do both to have balanced offense and keep the defense guessing on what he's going to call on any given day.  Woody Dantzler was a good QB for RR because the balance is there for RR which is why Dantzler became the first(or the second) player in NCAA history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards.


Brian, you may want to forget about the fantasy of DG staying for 5th year.  If he's as good as advertised and I suspect he is.  He won't stay until his senior year.


September 17th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

Size is important. Not as much for durability, but for being able to see the field and not have passes batted down at the line. Being 6'4'' or 6'5'' doesn't necessarily mean your passes will never be batted (see John Navarre), but it certainly helps. Finding ridiculously quick, tall, rocket-armed quarterbacks isn't an easy task, but if Rich Rod stays and Denard continues to progress (as well as Devin), Michigan could become a dual-threat quarterback factory.


September 17th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

when a mobile QB scrambles or run for a 1st down when the defense need a stop the most.  It feels so nice to be on that side instead of the receiving end of it like in LC's year.  It infuritates me to no end whenever I see a QB like Armanti Edwards, Troy Smith and to name a few make a cruical play when the defense had them right where they want them.


September 17th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

To the reader calculating the speed of the 87-yard run...  

If you look closely at the replay, Denard doesn't run the 80-yards in a straight line but starts running on a diagonal towards the middle of the field around our own 45 yard line.  A rough estimate of between 5 and 10 yards of lateral change actually puts him anywhere from a 12.32 to 12.24 100m time.  Not that much of a difference in the end and still insanely impressive!


September 17th, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

Curious where McNabb would fit in the list.  I'd think fairly high as he was a pretty damn good passer and runner.

Other pros that would have been great fits - Randall Cunningham, John Elway, Steve Young - any of these would have been amazing and helped put to bed the often repeated idea that a spread QB can't suceed in the NFL.


September 17th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

Thank you for including Pryor and toolbox in the same sentence.

I think a 6'4" or 6'5" guy who can stand in the pocket, but still has explosive ability is exactly what we all hope Gardner becomes. He has the explosive ability and it seems as though the pocket presence and polished passing ability are coming along.


September 17th, 2010 at 12:46 PM ^

so? Physically it seems it would be more difficult for the taller guy to do so, with perhaps the longer legs and more muscle. Apart from the speed, it's Denard's quickness and dartiness that makes him so successful; I know physical 'freaks' happen, but I would rather have a smaller guy like Shoelace with his attributes than I would a larger guy who has the straightline speed but lacks the agility. I think agility and quickness trumps the batted balls.

Blue boy johnson

September 17th, 2010 at 12:49 PM ^

Denard possibly leaving after next season? At the pace Denard is going, he may have nothing to prove after his junior season. Wouldn't that be bittersweet. I think it is unlikely but far less unlikely than 2 weeks ago


September 17th, 2010 at 1:13 PM ^

Denard's skill set is perfect for where he is, and doesn't fit into the current NFL paradigm.  Besides, Denard, unlike TP for example, is at Michigan to play for Michigan, and the team comes first.  I think Denard is having too much fun at Michigan to risk being a slot reciever/kick returner in the NFL.  Even if Drew Brees is able to convince NFL talent evaluators that short is OK for QB, Denard still has to improve his touch on passes that have an arc on them. 

As for what Denard has to "prove" at Michigan, I don't think he would leave without a National Championship trophy, and I am just naive enough to believe that he would want to come back to attempt a repeat if Michigan wins it all next year. 

Besides, I know the sample is small, but I am beginning to believe that RR's offense works better with someone Denard's size than someone bigger.  The bigger guys are fast, but the smaller guys can change direction a lot more quickly.  I think RR will believe this after a full year of Denard, and I think Denard will realize that he is in the perfect place at the perfect time.


September 17th, 2010 at 1:17 PM ^

I don't see it happening.  No matter how explosive he is, it's unlikely any NFL team would use him as a QB, except in a quasi-wildcat situation.  He'll probably convert to a WR in the NFL, like Antwaan Randall El.  But unless Denard converts to WR in college, I doubt he'd go in the first round of the NFL draft because he wouldn't have proven he can play WR at a high level going into the draft.  So that's less incentive to jump early.

Plus, dude seems like a likable, grounded guy.  Graduating is probably important to him.

Blue Blue Blue

September 17th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

Denard has plenty of arm strength, plenty of talent, a great work ethic, great coaching (yes, I said it) and WRs who are themselves talented and dedicated.

Why shouldnt he become a great passer?  Sit back in that zone and he can run 10 yards while you blink.  Stack the box, or assign a defender to key on him, and WRs run free.

we are seeing sophmore Denard, with 2 real games of experience.   Know his passing will be better each year.


September 17th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

What if it works out that Denard puts up the best numbers in the history of the spread?  I think it's fully possible that the prototypical QB for RR's offense may end up being under six feet instead of over.  If that is so, Michigan will have the market cornered for awhile until others figure out what is going on.

At any rate, Michigan has the market on Denard cornered for the next three seasons.  That's a great start.

Tha Quiet Storm

September 17th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

Mark Emmert doesn't become head of the NCAA until November 1st, so assuming the NCAA's ruling on UM comes down sometime in October, he probably won't have any influence on it.  If November comes around and we haven't heard anything, however, I might start to get a little more worried.


September 17th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

Just looking at the game clock, DR covered the last 50 yards in 5 seconds.  I have a great urge to make the Roadrunner "Beep, beep" sound whenever he takes off.

Greg McMurtry

September 17th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

Tommie Frazier into the mix.  I think he would've been a great spread option QB, since he ran the traditonal option in the 90's.  His completion % was a bit low, but he was still a great college QB.  I grew up watching as many college football games as I could and Frazier was always exciting to watch.  He was also a tough runner who could break tackles in traffic.


September 17th, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

As much as I want Gardener to redshirt, I'm a believer in RR and Calvin, and if both of them feel he gives us the second best chance to win games and they have to play him after the 4th game then so be it.  The only plays Devin has played this year we haven't been able to get a beat on what he has to bring to the table, this weekend we will and it should be fun to watch.