Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Football [Print without images]

Saturday, September 24, 2011
Updated: September 28, 2:32 AM ET
Robinson has up and down performance

By Chantel Jennings
WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After three slow starts, the Michigan football team spent all week emphasizing a fast start for its final non-conference game of the season.

And after a first half in which the score easily could have read Denard Robinson 21, San Diego State 0 -- you could say the fleet-footed quarterback took that message to heart.

Robinson rushed for 200 yards in 21 carries and scored three touchdowns, leading the Wolverines to a 28-7 win over the Aztecs.

The quarterback's first touchdown came on a 5-yard designed run less than five minutes into the game, but it only got more impressive from there as he notched two more scores and 139 yards before the end of the half.

But he only completed five passes in the first half for just 40 yards.

"He ran the ball pretty doggone well," coach Brady Hoke said. "He makes some things up as he goes. I wish I could do that. Sometimes I do, though. He really did a great job running the football."
Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson stands where almost all of Michigan's red-zone drives have ended so far this season -- the end zone.
Hoke also was impressed with Robinson's ability to control the Michigan offense, especially against a San Diego State defense that gave the Wolverines plenty of looks early in the game.

But it was later in the game that the troubles started to surface for Robinson. The first two possessions of the second half ended in interceptions, one of which led to the Aztecs' only scoring drive.

The 14-point lead didn't seem as comfortable for a team whose quarterback completed just three passes in the second half.

Robinson admitted that he might have forced a few passes into a defense that seemed to fly all over the field.

"I should've just taken my time to do what coach taught me," he said.

But Hoke didn't place the blame solely on Robinson.

"We had enough from the turnover standpoint, and then blocking the line of scrimmage, I don't think we did it as well in the second half. And that's disturbing, because championship teams have a way of improving during the course of the game and finishing games," Hoke said. "And we didn't do that."

Hoke said he only saw Robinson make one bad decision, but Hoke wants to see the game film to compare that to how many plays Robinson was able to get the offense into.

Even in what appeared to be a shaky second-half performance, Robinson was able to jump a few spots in several of the Michigan record books.

His 17 passing attempts moved him to No. 11 overall in career attempts (394). And his three touchdowns moved his career touchdown count to 29, surpassing John Wangler and taking complete control of the No. 10 spot. It also tied him for 15th with Lawrence Ricks and Tim Biakabutuka for rushing touchdowns (24).

Robinson also jumped from 16th to 13th overall in career rushing yards (2,605), moving past Ron Johnson, Russell Davis and Ricky Powers.

But possibly the most impressive record is that, less than halfway into his junior year, the quarterback now sits in sixth place for the most career offense, with 5,987 yards. Saturday's performance moved him past both Todd Collins and Jim Harbaugh.

Robinson, who was surprised to hear that his team had more than 400 yards of offense, probably won't pay much attention to the records and focus more on this year's team. But even with the two interceptions and the 8-for-17 passing game, Robinson said he would try and not feel frustrated with his performance.

"I'm not too mad at myself, because my teammates keep telling me I'm gonna be alright," Robinson said. "They've got my back, and I know they do."

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