Denard Ranked as the #3 Heisman Contender

Submitted by hart20 on June 9th, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Mike Huguenin of Yahoo! Sports put together a top 10 of this season's Heisman contenders and our Denard Robinson checks in at #3.

Here's what he had to say about Denard:


3. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan 
Buzz: This will be the final go-round for one of the most exciting players to ever wear the maize-and-blue. Robinson has 8,160 yards of total offense and has been responsible for 75 TDs in his career. At times last season, he didn't look entirely comfortable in coordinator Al Borges' offense, yet he still was responsible for 36 touchdowns. "Shoelace" is at his best as an improviser, which means he is going to have perhaps the best highlight package of any player in the nation this season.


I'd argue against his characterization as an improviser. Denard has a tendency to force throws when he should take off instead,  leading to a lot of picks. While he may have improved as the season went on, forcing throws isn't exactly a characteristic of improvisation in a QB who has Denard's ability to run. Anyways, if Denard is going to win the Heisman, the key is obviously going to be improving his passing. Hopefully a 2nd year in Borges' offense and no staph infection in his arm will help with that.


The top 10 Heisman contenders:

10. LB Larvis Jones, Georgia

9. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

8. WR De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

7. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma

6. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

5. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

4. QB Geno Smith, West Virgnia

3. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan

2. RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

1. QB Matt Barkley, USC




Davey O'Brien (top quarterback)
1. Matt Barkley, USC 
2. Denard Robinson, Michigan 
3. Geno Smith, West Virginia





June 9th, 2012 at 4:50 PM ^

I like him being ranked 3rd going into the season.  Last year Luck was ranked # 1 and watched like a hawk.  He throws an INT in a crucial game and kissed the heisman goodbye.  Wow would it be unreal to see Denard win it.


June 9th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

he did say Denard was "at his best" as an improviser. If the Nebraska and Ohio games were any indication, then he's right. I certainly hope he tucks it more often this year and improvises rather than forcing his throws, as do most of us, methinks.

Smash Lampjaw

June 10th, 2012 at 6:35 PM ^

If he watched games with Spielman and Meyer as the broadcast team he would have often heard this, along with the assertion that Michigan really ought to roll Denard out as a passer. I hope Meyer studies game films the same way now as the OSU coach. I am not sure he paid attention at all.


June 9th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

Denard won't win the Heisman under this system, even if he deserves it.  He isn't quite good enough to pass for the kind of yardage Barkley will get, and he won't have the opportunity to run for 1,000 yards.  Gaudy stats usually win Heismans, and Denard's stats won't be gaudy enough.

In other words, Denard may be the most valuable player in college football, but he won't get a Heisman for it. The only real chance he has is if Michigan makes the BCS Championship game this year.  If that happens, it will be impossible for the committee to ignore his leadership skills and "it factor."  

Luckily, Denard doesn't seem to care much about individual awards.


June 9th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

Denard put up over 3,300 yards of total offense and 36 TDs last year (Barkley threw 39 TDs).  And that is in year one after learning a dramatically new passing game (not to mention it took a while for the team to find a rythm with Fitz and Denard in the backfield together in the ground game). 

If he just makes the improvement we should all expect based on his continued familiarity with the offense (you may recall a dramatic improvement in his 2nd year in another system), his numbers are going to be just as insane as they've always been, and he'll cut down on his mistakes quite a bit.


June 10th, 2012 at 11:23 PM ^

I was just gonna chime in and say something to the same effect, but the only flaw I see is that the receivers were that much better on paper last year. This isn't to say that Roundtree won't have a resurgence (part 2), but I'm not sure the whole corps is up to the production potential of Heisman support cast.

Frito Bandito

June 9th, 2012 at 6:23 PM ^

Here are some of the latest dual threat QBs to win the Heisman. Denard's #s ring out in case you've been living under a rock. RG3 was not human though. Vince Young also should have won in 2005 but CREAM Reggie Bush took it home.


2001 Heisman Crouch - 105/189, 55.6%,1510 yds Passing (7 TDS 10 INTS) !!!!

2001 Crouch Rushing - 203 att, 1115 yds, 5.5 ypc, 18 TDS

2001 Crouch - 2625 total yds, 25 TDS


2006 Heisman Troy Smith - 203/311, 65.3, 2542 yds Passing, 30 TDS 6 INTS

Smith Rushing - 72 ATT, 204 yds, 2.8 ypc, 1 TD

2006 Smith - 2748 total yds, 31 TDS


2011 Robert Griffen III - 291/402 72.4%, 4293 yds Passing, 37 TDS 6 INTS

2011 Robert Griffen III Rushing - 179 att, 699 yds, 3.9 ypc, 10 TD

2011 Robert Griffen III - 4992 total yds, 47 TDS


2010 Denard - 182/291, 62.5%, 2570 yds Passing 18 TDS 11 INTS

2010 Denard Rushing - 256 att, 1702 yds, 6.6 ypc, 14 TD

2010 Denard - 4272 total yds, 32 TDS


2011 Denard - 142/258, 55%, 2173 yds Passing 20 TDS 15 INTS

2011 Denard Rushing - 221 att, 1176 yds, 5.3 ypc, 16 TDS

2011 Denard 3349 total yds, 36 TDS



June 9th, 2012 at 8:20 PM ^

If Denard can get around 60-65% for completions, 2500+ yards, 23-25+ TD's and keep his INT's <10 he should be set passing wise. Throw in another rushing season like last year, the 20/20 club, and it would be his.

It should be a close race between Barkley and Denard, and could come down to whichever team does better recordwise


June 9th, 2012 at 5:06 PM ^

my cheering interests in Michigan as a team supersede any individual player.  I mean, obviously.  

But if Denard Robinson were to actually win the Heisman Trophy, I can be certain that I would literally shed tears of pride and joy.  I honestly feel that as Michigan fans, we have an inordinate amount of  incredible character athletes wear the maize and blue.  In my opinion, Denard Robinson is the most impressive example of that.  I will always love that kid for how he represents himself and the university.  


June 9th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

I don't know how I feel about Montee Ball being up there. It seems like he's only getting mentioned in the discussion like Case Keenum was, i.e the "stats" guy. Plus we'll see how that offense looks next year without Russell Wilson


June 9th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

De'Anthony Thomas is just straight nasty.  He doesn't play a position that typically takes home the Heisman, but he's easily one of the best players and athletes in the nation.  He makes people look stupid on the field in a way that reminds me of Reggie Bush or Barry Sanders; he just leaves them grasping at air.


June 9th, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^


I'd argue against his characterization as an improviser.

Denard is a bit of a contradiction when the designed play breaks down.  There are times, as you cite, that he tends to make poor decisions.  I'd argue that he's not always that good when in tight confines.  The threat he poses, however, is when it appears he has some space ... even a little.  Then defenders have a quandry -- pursue (and leave pass coverage) or hesitate and watch a blue streak go by.


June 9th, 2012 at 5:53 PM ^

I don't think Ball has a chance.  If he couldn't win it with what he did last year I don't think he could win it this year when his stats probably won't be nearly as good.


June 9th, 2012 at 5:55 PM ^

If Denard gets about 200 passing yards, 100 rushing yards, a few touchdowns, and a win against Alabama, then I think it will be his trophy to win.  I still doubt he wins the Heisman though.

no joke its hoke

June 9th, 2012 at 10:39 PM ^

that is possible. But if USC goes out and goes12-0 which is very likely and Barkley will be throwing to the best WR in the nation i just have a feeling he is going to put up crazy numbers. untill Denard cuts his turnovers by half, i think 3rd is about right.

Sten Carlson

June 9th, 2012 at 7:25 PM ^

I think everyone should rewatch the BTN flimroom interview with OC Borges.  If Denard learns to "get into the fight," as Borges terms it, I think it's going to come down to him and Barkley for the trophy.  The difference between the two QB's, IMO, will be Denard's running ability.  I think that this season we're going to see Denard do what RGIII was able to do last season -- completely freeze the down field coverage by staying in his posture while moving up into the pocket, then either throwing or tucking and running. 

Last season, as Borges pointed out, Denard was too quick to "break contain" and improvise.  Unfortunately, this is pretty much exactly what DC's like Narduzzi and the VT DC wanted him to do.  He'd flush right into the waiting trap LB's or throw an "arm-punt."  The game is going to slow down for Denard this season, and with the steady production of Fitz, I think he's going to show marked improvement.

I think he wins the Heisman because he's going to have highlight reel passes AND runs, while Barkley is only going to have passes.

Go Blue!


June 9th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

Last years Heisman winnder Robert Griffin had improved EXPONENTIALLY in the passing game from the previous season. He was similar to Denard in the sense that he had always been an explosive and dangerous athlete. However, his passing accuracy was not great. And the year before last Baylor was 7-6 I believe. His passing skills improved and Baylor had one of their best seasons in school history last year. I think we should all be reasonably optimistic that this same thing is possible for Denard. If you add the facts that he is in his second year in a new offense, offensive coordinator Al Borges is an elite offensive mind, Denard has great work ethic, and Denard has better talent around him than RG3...I think it's very reasonable to say that he will seriously compete for the Heisman. And even if he doesn't win it he will still have a hell of a season. Hail. 

Sten Carlson

June 9th, 2012 at 9:54 PM ^

I wouldn't go so far as to say that RGIII improved exponentially, but he did improve.  Although I drew the comparison between RGIII and Denard, the offenses are so different that it's not the best comparison in all honesty.

In 2010 and 2011 RGIII had 856 passing attempts, while in those same two seasons Denard only attempted 549 passes -- Baylor was a "pass happy" offense to say the least.  On the rushing side of the column, in 2010 and 2011 Denard had 477 rushing attempts for 2,878 yards and 30 TD's, while RGIII only had 310 for 1,334 yards and 18 TD's.  Denard is averaging 5.9 yrds/carry while RGIII averaged only 4.3 yrds/carry.  Denard has almost as many carries in two seasons as RGIII had in his career (510) and close to the RGIII career rushing yards (2,199) in 2010 alone.  RGIII was a passer with a threat to run, while Denard is more of a runner that has the threat to pass.

What we all want is for Denard's running gamr and his passing game to even out, for him to become a passing threat that will run and when he does, he will hurt you.  I actually think that Denard could match his 2010 rushing stats with far fewer carries, if, and ONLY if, he becomes a legitimate passing threat.

I think he'll do it, but I believe in the kid more than most.


June 9th, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

Denard is gonna make that jump.  I just remember watching the minnesota/nebraska/osu games this year and thinking, this is the monster that borges meant to create.  We should see that in every game this year w/the exception of alabama. 


PS. cant wait to see bwc make the same jump on defense!


June 9th, 2012 at 11:50 PM ^

That defense is really intimidating and the Denard does get fidgety w/aggressive defenses (i.e. msu).  I hope he's ready to handle it but I'd bet that if we beat them, it won't be because denard lights them up.

Sten Carlson

June 10th, 2012 at 12:06 AM ^

If Michigan beats Alabama, IMO, it will be BECAUSE Denard "lights them up."

I think we're going to see a very different Denard in Dallas on Sept. 1st.  We're going to see the QB that we saw vs. Ohio and Nebraska, with more short passing to loosen up the defense, and for the entire game.

What you have to understand about what we saw for much of last season is that Denard was learning on the job.  He was fighting his instincts -- which Borges spoke about -- to break contain and run when he felt pressure.  "Normal" QB's, pure drop-back passers don't do this because they cannot -- they move up in the pocket with their eyes downfield and go through their progressions.  This fidety nature, as you call it, will be gone and his running ability will be even more of a weapon because when he decides to run he'll be in his profile and thus forcing the LB's spying him to stay in coverage. 

He's won't be "learning" anymore, he's going to reacting.

Man what I wouldn't give to go back in time and convince RR to redshirt Denard. 



June 10th, 2012 at 12:25 AM ^

If Denard leads us to a victory over AL and has a great game running and passing he may jump up to lead the way!

I think he will have a great year and if Michigan can win most of their games he will have a good chance of winning the Heisman!

Perkis-Size Me

June 10th, 2012 at 12:47 AM ^

If Denard wants to win the Heisman, UM almost has to beat Alabama. He will have to play out of his mind, and beat them in the passing game. Nick Sabans defenses have stuffed every dual threat qb they have played with the exception of Cam Newton, but he was forced to beat them with his arm. They stopped his rushing attempts all night.

It's good that we play them in week one when their D may not have fully gelled yet, but still, Denard will have to show the type of game he played against Neb and OSU to have any Chance to win and jump in the Heisman front seat.


June 10th, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

'Weeeeellll' the writer of this article probably doesn't watch every snap with bated breath like each of us...or dvr the games and read UFR's. Watching Denard highlights i.e. 1st td throw to JR in Sugar Bowl, would lead someone to classify a running QB like Denard an improvisor.