Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Take Two: Denard vs. Braxton
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
Today's Take Two topic is this: Which quarterback is more indispensable to his team right now, Michigan's Denard Robinson or Ohio State's Braxton Miller?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
You can't really go wrong with either guy, and we all know what Robinson means to Michigan. But if the question is who's more indispensable right now, then I have to go with Miller. If you've watched Ohio State through these first two weeks, you know that the sophomore quarterback is basically the entire Buckeyes' offense. Miller leads the Big Ten in rushing and likely must continue to do so for a team that's missing Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde because of injuries. Miller carried the ball 27 times on Saturday against UCF, a number that's way too high but illustrates just how much he is needed. He just doesn't have a lot of help right now. Michigan relied on Robinson to a ridiculous degree against Air Force, but I think the Wolverines could get by with Devin Gardner or Russell Bellomy at quarterback and Fitz Toussaint at running back whenever he shakes off the rust. No offense to Kenny Guiton, but he's not the same level of athlete as Miller and the Ohio State offense would take a nosedive without its star. Eventually, Urban Meyer will have more pieces on his offensive chessboard. But as of right now, he's all in with Braxton Miller.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
I love what Miller is doing in Urban Meyer's offense right now, but I'm going with Robinson. The biggest reason: he knows what it's like to be indispensable, and he embraces the role. He carried Michigan during the 2010 season and was the main reason why a team with the worst defense in program history scratched its way to a bowl. Without Robinson, Michigan endures a third consecutive losing season. Although he had a better supporting cast in 2011 both on offense and defense, he hasn't been surrounded by the wealth of weapons that most Michigan quarterbacks enjoy. Robinson's talents as a playmaker are known around the country. Few quarterbacks boast his combination of speed and vision. Give him a crease and he's gone. It's why he owns two of the top three rushing performances by a Big Ten quarterback in league history -- and six of the top 11. While Robinson gets knocked as a passer -- somewhat justifiably -- he's a very good thrower on the move and would be even better in a pure spread offense. Need more evidence? Michigan would be 0-2 this season without Robinson's efforts Saturday against Air Force, when he accounted for 101 percent of the team's offensive production, becoming the first player in major college football to record three performances of 200 rush yards and 200 pass yards. The Wolverines aren't flush with top-end running backs, and they lack many proven wide receivers. At times, Michigan needs Robinson to be its offense. Perhaps no player in the country is more comfortable with that role.