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Thursday, November 15, 2012
WolverineNation roundtable

By Michael Rothstein

Kenny Demens
Kenny Demens has been a steadying force in the middle of the Michigan defense.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It is senior day at Michigan on Saturday and for many of the Wolverines out of eligibility, that signifies the beginning of the end of their football careers.

With that in mind, the WolverineNation staff looks back at Denard Robinson, ahead to which seniors will be missed the most and also to Ohio State in this week’s roundtable.

1) It is senior day for Michigan on Saturday. Which of the Wolverines' seniors does Michigan end up missing the most next season?

Michael Rothstein: First, a caveat. While Taylor Lewan does have one year of eligibility left, he is a senior so if he does not return, he makes the most sense considering the inexperience on the offensive line next season. Of the guys who are definitely leaving, I am going to go a different route and say Kenny Demens. It might sound odd, especially with Joe Bolden primed to take his place, but Demens has played extremely well this season and his ability to handle the middle of the field has allowed Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan to make a lot of plays. It might take Bolden a little bit of time to do that next season.

Chantel Jennings: Denard Robinson. It's not necessarily from a production standpoint because I think the Wolverines will be fine with Devin Gardner at quarterback (yes, I believe Gardner will be quarterback). But for the past few seasons Robinson has posed a threat to any and all teams. Michigan doesn't have a playmaker like that for next season. They won't be able to field a guy who has scored that many touchdowns or torn apart teams for 500 yards. For Michigan, he has kind of been that monster under the bed that little kids are terrified of. He might or might not come out, but the threat of it is enough to keep you from getting out of bed.

Tom VanHaaren: The popular answer is obviously Robinson, so to be different I'm going to say Jordan Kovacs. There is no need to rehash what he did to walk on to the program and how hard he worked to get where he's at. That drive, motivation and leadership has gained him the respect of his teammates and that's an intangible element that will be missed next season. He always seems to be in the right spot, seems to make a play and is reliable. You never want to lose a guy like Kovacs.

2) Denard Robinson has had a lot of big time moments in his career. Which one stands out the most?

Rothstein: There have been a lot through the years, but the way he led Michigan down the field at the end of the 2011 Notre Dame game for the game-winning score to Roy Roundtree would probably stand out the most. He made plays when he needed to -- and this after three erratic quarters. That game probably encapsulates Robinson’s career.

Jennings: What stands out to me is Robinson off the field. This is going to sound funny considering I just compared him to a monster, because he's 180 degrees the opposite. Through all the fame and stories and TV spots and everything that Robinson has gone through at Michigan he has been about as normal as they come. I always joke about people's "default faces," which is more or less how their face settles when they're not thinking about it. His default face is a smile. He's always smiling. Always. That stands out to me. People always say, "He's a good player but a better person." I don't always believe that. But for Robinson, I do.

VanHaaren: I think most people would remember his first-ever play against Western Michigan when he fumbled the ball, picked it up and ran for a touchdown. That kind of started his legacy and Michigan fan's hopes for his future. I'll go with that one just because it started it all.

3) What is the one area of the game Saturday you need to see the most improvement from heading into Ohio State?

Rothstein: Offensive line play. No matter who the quarterback is, Michigan is going to need a major performance up front to spring Robinson or any of the Wolverines’ running backs along with giving Gardner time to pass if he is the quarterback. The offensive line has been erratic at best this season, so they need to find something to focus on against Iowa to carry into Ohio State.

Jennings: The offensive line needs to pull it together. Michigan doesn't have a hope against Ohio State if the O-line doesn't give both the passing and rushing game a chance to be effective. From the beginning of the season until now I think it's the part of Michigan's game that has progressed the least.

VanHaaren: Run defense. Michigan is ranked No. 1 in pass defense, but No. 59 in run defense. Obviously the pass defense ranking is skewed by what teams they have played, but the disparity between is noticeable. Michigan will need to contain Braxton Miller to win in the Horseshoe.