2011 Michigan Wolverines Football

 
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Michigan vs Eastern Michigan Football Preview

 

 

Maybe this week, Michigan can work on a traditional pocket passing game. If there’s ever an opportunity for a young and talented but very raw quarterback to learn the finer points of passing, it’s this weekend for Denard Robinson.

One week after their dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against Notre Dame, the Michigan Wolverines return home to face the in-state rival Eastern Michigan Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

Robinson (who is so much easier to refer to as Denard) was inconsistent, completing just 11 of 24 passes and throwing three interceptions, but he threw four touchdown passes -- two in the final 1:12 -- and racked up 338 yards.  The game-winner was a 16-yard toss to Roy Roundtree with just two seconds left to play.  The Wolverines could have tied the score with a field goal, but head coach Brady Hoke elected to go for the win instead.  Michigan had trailed 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. Robinson also rushed 16 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.



Eastern Michigan is coached by former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English. The Eagles are 2-0 after beating two FCS opponents, Howard and Alabama State.

Running backs Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer have both rushed for 100 yards in each of the Eagles' first two games.  EMU has run for an average of 331 yards per game. The Michigan defense gave up a staggering 513 yards last week against Notre Dame, so Eastern Michigan has a chance to show what it can do on offense. The Eagles will have a terribly difficult time containing Denard, so if they’re going to make a run at the Wolverines and create at least a small pocket of drama at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’ll have to ring up at least 28 points, very probably 35 as a minimum number.

Last week against Alabama State, the Eagles held the Hornets to negative 13 yards rushing, including eight sacks for 61 yards. Michigan running backs combined for just ten yards on eight carries, and one fumble, against Notre Dame. Make no mistake – Michigan will not run for only 10 yards in this game, but if the Wolverines can’t fully flex their muscles, Hoke and the rest of the UM braintrust will be scratching their heads.  In order to improve the Wolverines' offensive consistency, offensive coordinator Al Borges plans to put Robinson under center more this week to spark the Wolverines' tailbacks. Yet, for all of the deficiencies in the ground game, the other need for UM in this contest is to make Denard a better passer.

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The big challenge for Michigan this season is to allow Denard to continue to make improvisational plays even while polishing his passing from the pocket. Denard is not a traditional dropback passer; he’s far more of a scrambler and open-field playmaker. Against Eastern Michigan, Denard will be able to sit back in the pocket and survey the field. He can’t be restrained by Borges every week, but this contest offers quarterback and coordinator the opportunity to learn how to work together on a much deeper level. If Denard Robinson and Al Borges are able to mesh as a result of this game, and if Borges can find ways to unlock Denard’s talents within the pro-style framework Brady Hoke wants, this game could possess considerable value for UM in the very near future.

 

By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer