As we will say over and over and over again before the day’s out, it was just the first of 12 regular season games that will be played by most schools.
And this post involves a team that won their first four games of the 2009 season before falling off the face of the football earth, losing seven of their last eight. But, still, there seemed to be something different about the 2010 Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.
In particular and most shockingly noticeable, it appears Rich Rodriguez has the key, prototypical piece in place for his version of the spread offense, something he’s lacked during his two seasons in Ann Arbor.
Whatever it was, whatever it will be, Michigan’s impressively solid 30-10 win over UConn gave rise to renewed hope that, this time, Rodriguez’s Wolverines are indeed climbing out of their two-year maize malaise. And, if you want to lay that hope at the feet of anyone, toss it many times over in the general direction of Denard Robinson.
If you squinted hard enough at your television set, hard enough to blur away the dreads and turn a “16” on the back of the uniform into a “5”, you would’ve sworn you were witnessing Pat White v2.0 on the Big(ger) House field. Robinson was a mirror image of Rodriguez’s résumé-stuffing weapon while at West Virginia, rushing for 197 yards to set a school record for quarterbacks. 11 of his 29 rushes went for first downs.
As spectacular as he was in the running game, he was equally efficient — and deadly — in the passing game. Out of 22 pass attempts, Robinson completed 19 of them for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps most importantly, and given the -13 turnover differential Michigan had during their ’09 swoon, Robinson either carried or threw the ball 52 times, and had exactly zero turnovers.
Granted, the Wolverines will face stiffer defensive tests than what the Huskies threw out on the field Saturday, but the Huskies aren’t exactly some Div.1-AA creampuff or a Sun Belt school looking for an opening day payday; UConn finished 8-5 last year as a member of a BcS conference and were 45th in rushing defense.
Yep, I can hear you and you’re correct. It’s way, way too early to declare a corner having been turned for anyone, let alone a school that’s been so miserable the past two seasons.
Based on today’s performance and Robinson’s potential, however, that corner is closer than it’s ever been during Rodriguez’s time at Michigan. And, given the hot seat he’s currently squatting on, this latest hope couldn’t have come at a better time for the embattled coach.