Monday, November 14, 2011 Updated: November 15, 1:11 PM ET
Denard Robinson expected to play
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan has tried to keep Denard Robinson healthier by asking him run less and hand off more, and it has worked to some extent.
The speedy quarterback just keeps getting banged up. In Saturday's win at Illinois, Robinson sprained his right wrist in the third quarter and didn't return, in part because backup Devin Gardner has matured enough to manage the game and make plays.
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"He could've went back in the game, but Devin was playing well at the time so we just went with him," tight end Kevin Koger said Monday.
The Wolverines (No. 18 BCS, No. 20 AP) will host Nebraska (No. 16 BCS, No. 17 AP) this week in a matchup of eight-win teams with 4-2 records in the Big Ten. They are tied for second place behind Michigan State (No. 15 BCS, No. 12 AP) in the Legends Division.
Coach Brady Hoke said he expects Robinson to practice without limitations and to play against the Cornhuskers after watching him pass an initial test Sunday during practice.
"He threw the ball very well," Hoke said. "He just got a little sprain on his wrist, and he's in good shape."
The Cornhuskers have had problems with mobile quarterbacks and Robinson is perhaps the most elusive player taking snaps in college football. Coach Bo Pelini was asked about the problems Robinson presents for a defense.
"You got about an hour?" Pelini quipped. "He can beat you and do a lot of different things. This guy, you watch him on film, he's fun to watch. I won't get a lot of sleep this week. There are times he'll make three, four, five guys miss on a play."
Pelini, though, said his program is not the only one that has a tough time containing running QBs.
"That's the nature of the beast," Pelini said. "If you ever tell me a mobile quarterback doesn't put more stress on your defense, (you) probably don't know what they're talking about. It's a whole other dimension. That's why people are doing it."
Robinson has struggled in the passing game this season and his running has not been as prolific in a new system that combines spread and pro-style offenses under offensive coordinator Al Borges. The junior has barely completed more than half his passes and has as many interceptions (13) as touchdowns. He has also had a problem with fumbles lately.
"He's got to do a better job as far as ball security issues," Hoke said.
Hoke said he's fortunate to have depth at quarterback, unlike some other positions on the team. He said both players are getting better every time they're on the field.
Gardner threw a touchdown pass -- his first this season, second of his career -- to Martavious Odoms to give the Wolverines a 24-7 lead over Illinois en route to a 31-14 win. He completed 2 of 5 passes for 47 yards and ran twice for 9 yards.
"Devin did a good job managing the game, and Al did a nice job, in calling the game," Hoke said, adding the performance gave him more confidence to play Gardner if Robinson has turnover problems.
Game notes Michigan will close the regular season against rival Ohio State on Nov. 26 at noon, a kickoff that was announced Monday. ... Wolverines DE Ryan Van Bergen was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week for a career-high 2.5 sack, seven-tackle performance at Illinois.