Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson accounted for more than 200 yards rushing and passing in last week’s win over Air Force 31 to 25. It marked the second time Robinson had done that it his record-breaking career.
Robinson, who is known for his nickname “Shoelace,” has been given a new label by offensive coordinator Al Borges after last week’s performance. The Wolverine captain was referred to as a “baller’ by Borges, at Tuesday’s press conference at Schembechler Hall. Robinson appreciated the accolade.
“That means a lot if coach Borges called me a baller,” Robinson said. “That’s his first time calling me that. I mean that’s good coming from coach Borges.”
However, Denard quickly acknowledged that there’s improvement to be made. “We’ve got to get back on the right path,” he said. “We’ve still got some things to clean up. This weekend we can take some steps and move forward.”
While Robinson had a huge game last Saturday, junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled. He had eight carries for just seven yards in his first game of the season, after serving a one-game suspension in the opener versus Alabama. And Robinson said Toussaint needs to be patient and his yardage will come.
“He knows that,” Robinson said of Toussaint. “And everybody on the offensive line and the whole offense knows about that. Fitz just knows he got to be patient. Even when you are a running back, you’ve got to be patient when you are running the ball. I mean, it’s going to come. I know it’s going to come. He is a great runner. It’s going to come altogether. We need to keep working.”
Wide Receiver Help
Robinson pointed out that one of their main concerns coming into the season was at the wide receivers position. With the addition of junior Devin Gardner and freshman Devin Funchess to the group, it has made throwing the ball a little more enjoyable.
“I enjoy throwing to those guys,” Robinson said. “Those guys can go get the ball. You know that was a big question coming into this year. Everybody was saying, ‘Oh we don’t know about the receivers.’ But you guys see those guys’ve got potential. We’ve just got to keep working and moving forward.”
This is especially true for Gardner, who was Robinson’s back up last season. At 6-foot-4, 205-pounds, Gardner has the skill set of a big time receiver, and has six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. While the former quarterback is raw at the position, Robinson says he is making the right progressions thus far.
“Devin is a phenomenal athlete and he learns fast,” Robinson explained. “So once he gets out there and gets in space and learns how to get of his breaks and all the other stuff—you can see it very Saturday that he is going to progress and get better. I feel like that’s with everybody at times. You take a lot of time doing something. You are always going to get better.”
Freshman tight end Devin Funchess has impressed early in his Wolverine career. He had four catches for 106 yards including a 30-yard touchdown reception in the win versus Air Force. Robinson said he “wished” Funchess played receiver, but he is okay with having him at tight end cause of the mismatch he creates on offense.
“He is a great athlete,” Robinson said. “Sometimes I wished he played receiver when he is out there. He is so fast. But I love him at tight end, because you get him on a linebacker or safety and those are the guys who can’t cover as well as the cornerback. I enjoy watching him go out there and make guys look bad and run right past them. Because you get deceived by his long legs and how he strides out there and goes and gets the ball and stuff like that.
Another freshman that has stuck out to Robinson has been kick returner Dennis Norfleet. At 5-foot-7, 165-pounds, Norfleet has provided energy in practice and is a tough guy, said Robinson.
And, Denard adds a surprise comment, saying, “He might be a little quicker than me. He is real quick. I mean he is real quick. Every time he hits the hole, he is hitting it real quick. He is making a quick jump or juking somebody out. It’s just fun watching him run the ball.”
“He is one of those guys that is small, but he packs a punch. He is quick on his feet. He’s not scared to take on the block. Whatever it takes he is going to do it.”
To watch the interview with Denard, click play below.