ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who aggravated his ulnar nerve on Saturday at Nebraska, is expected to start against Minnesota on Saturday, according to coach Brady Hoke.
The senior can grip a football, which is what he was unable to do against the Huskers.
What the Wolverines don’t appear to have a grip on is how to make a dent offensively without the dual-threat signal-caller. Backup redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy played the entire second half against Nebraska and was 3 of 16 passing with three interceptions. All Michigan could muster was three points in the final 30 minutes as it watched its hopes to reach the Big Ten title game slip away.
While Hoke said he believes Robinson’s injury won’t force him to miss practice this week, he wasn’t positive. And he also noted that he’s a coach who doesn’t believe in playing a quarterback in a game if he didn’t spend the week practicing.
So just to be careful, both backup quarterbacks -- Bellomy and junior Devin Gardner -- will be taking extra snaps at the position this week as Michigan prepares for Minnesota.
Which means, in the absence of Robinson, the Wolverines either will turn to a first-year player who has as many interceptions (four) as completions (four) or a player who hasn’t taken a snap at the QB position this season.
“We’ll do that as a precautionary thing, give him [Gardner] some more snaps, him and Russell both,” Hoke said. “Which means you’ll add a couple more plays to your script that you’re working off of for practice.”
The script will need to be rewritten dramatically. The Huskers turned up the heat with Bellomy in the game, knowing he wasn’t near the threat with his feet that Robinson is. They sacked him twice and had three hurries, and Bellomy never looked comfortable.
Hoke didn’t put all of the blame on Bellomy. He said the offensive line could’ve handled Nebraska’s front four and blitzes better than it did, allowing Bellomy more time in the pocket and the chance to make better decisions.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan said he and the offensive line play the same way whether it’s Robinson, Bellomy or Gardner that they’re protecting.
“I block what I’m supposed to block. Nothing changes at all for me,” Lewan said. “I have 100 percent faith in Russell. … It was a tough situation to go into.”
The result has left Michigan in a tough spot in that it needs help to reach its stated goal of playing for the Big Ten championship. The outlook is much better, though, with a healthy Robinson than without.