Commentary

Hard-running Denard delivers victory

Junior quarterback earns accolades for pilling up 5 total TDs and 170 rushing yards

Updated: November 26, 2011, 7:21 PM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Quarterback Denard Robinson has begun spoon-feeding himself air after big plays and touchdowns.

"This program has been starving," he said last week. "It's time to eat."

To say Robinson feasted on the Buckeyes in the Wolverines' 40-34 win would be a bit of an understatement.

The junior was responsible for five touchdowns -- two rushing, three passing -- while racking up 337 yards of total offense.

[+] EnlargeDenard Robinson
Andrew Weber/US PresswireDenard Robinson's teammates took notice of him taking on tacklers and moving piles with his legs.
He became just the third player in the FBS since 2000 to account for at least 150 yards of both rushing and passing offense while also compiling five touchdowns in one game.

"It's apparent how he's matured throughout the season," senior center David Molk said. "He did great. As an offense we did great, we drove down the field. We were always composed. We were always ready for another drive."

Robinson looked composed in producing his most efficient game (when attempting at least 10 passes) since the Wolverines' season opener against Connecticut in 2010. He completed 14 of 17 passes for 167 yards. And it was the third time this season he has had three passing touchdowns.

He also didn't throw an interception -- something he has done only two other times this season. In the first six games of the season, Robinson threw nine interceptions, but in the second half of the season, he has thrown only five. And in the past six games, he hasn't had a game in which he has thrown more than one.

It was Robinson's best rushing performance since the Wolverines' win over San Diego State in September. His two touchdowns and 170 yards mostly came in small bursts, though he did break out for a 41-yard run.

"He played with a lot of energy," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "He played with a toughness. He went after some of those runs, especially in the second half. It just tells you a lot about him and how he feels about his teammates."

His all-around performance suggested that he's finally settling into Hoke's offensive scheme after there were many question marks early on this season.

But Robinson continued to climb spots in the record books. His three touchdown passes moved him up to sixth on the school's all-time list, and his two rushing touchdowns moved him past former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach for fifth in career rushing touchdowns.

"I was just doing what I had to do: playing for the seniors and playing for Michigan," Robinson said.

"You could tell that this game mattered big-time to Denard," redshirt senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen added. "The way he ran that ball -- you have not seen him run that ball the way he did, with the style that he did in a while. ... He was fighting with every breath he had for the upperclassmen."

It was a dramatic finish to Robinson's up-and-down regular season, but with a guaranteed bowl appearance, Hoke wouldn't venture to say it was Robinson's best performance this year.

"Let's the hope the next one is," Hoke said.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or or on Twitter @chanteljennings.

Chantel Jennings | email

Oregon/Pac-12 reporter