Last year Michigan started off red-hot and opened up their season with a record of 4-0. It looked like Rich Rodriguez had the program going in the right direction and it looked like he had his quarterback of the future with Tate Forcier. However, the Wolverines got into Big Ten play and they stumbled down the stretch, winning just one game in their last seven, which was against Delaware State. After a 5-7 finish and a summer of uncertainty, Rich Rodriguez came into this season on the hot seat, not only hoping to turn the program around, but to keep his job.
Right now, his job is safe and he can thank Denard Robinson for that. The one thing that Rich Rod needs more so than anything else to run his spread offense is a dual-threat quarterback like he had with Pat White at West Virginia. It’s safe to say, he has found his man and it is not the guy that led the offense last year. Denard Robinson has captured the nation’s attention with his electrifying runs, his improved passing, and has led Michigan back into the top 25 and a 4-0 start to the season. As the Wolverines head into Big Ten play, the skeptics will say that Robinson’s style won’t work in the Big Ten and Michigan will once again miss out on a bowl bid like they did last year. However, nobody expected Michigan to be 4-0 right now and Denard Robinson is a completely different quarterback. “Shoelace” has been the best player in America in the first four games of the college football season, is the Heisman Trophy front-runner and the last time Rodriguez had a quarterback this good, he led his program to three straight bowl victories, including the Fiesta Bowl in 2007.
Rich Rodriguez joined 1070 the Fan in Indy with Dan Dakich to talk about whether or not Denard Robinson is expected to play this weekend against Indiana, whether or not he is surprised by the success that Robinson has had so far this year, moving past everything that happened at West Virginia, and talks about the differences from last year’s team and this year’s team.
On whether or not Denard Robinson will play this weekend:
“Yeah he’s good to go. He actually practiced yesterday.”
On whether or not he’s surprised by Robinson’s success so far:
“Not really. He’s a first time starter so anytime a young guy goes in there you’re always a little bit nervous, but he had such an outstanding spring and then a really good camp. The nice about it is he’s executing the offense, but he’s taking care of the ball really well and making great decisions for a first time starter.”
On moving past everything that happened at West Virginia:
“We’ve had a lot of stuff happen the last couple of years and it’s been difficult. It started the moment we left West Virginia and all the controversy with that. We just tried to shield ourself from the external things. There’s sometimes I wish I woulda stood up and said this is what’s really going on. Instead of trying to answer everything, we just tried to press forward and surround ourselves with the right people and get this program where everyone wants it. It’s been a slow process, but we certainly think we’re on the way.”
On the differences between this year’s team and last year’s team:
“I think because it’s our third year, they’re in tune a little bit more with what our expectations are, how we go about our business, and practice in meetings and all that. Certainly we think we’re a little more experience offensively. Our quarterbacks were playing last year as true freshmen and now they’re second year players and more experienced up front. Defensively we’re not. We’re less experienced, but sometimes a young guy will get out there, run around, play, and we expect them to get better as the season goes along.”
On whether or not he is informing his team about how tough it will be on the road this weekend in Big Ten play:
“Oh sure I do. Our guys understand in the Big Ten and especially on the road. Every game on the road and at home, but especially on the road is going to be a challenge. Not going to be a lot of folks for ya, they’re going to want you to do poorly, make a lot of noise and distract ya, and so we talked about it quite a bit and we will work on it all during the week. You worry about it with some of the younger guys, but Denard even though he’s a second year player, he has played in some hostile environments, played in some as a freshman, and our guys, we’re gonna have to rely on that experience to get through this one.”